BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- The idea is for the Eagles new-look defense to create confusion. And that was certainly the case Friday, the first day the teams celebrated free agents were able to take part in training-camp drills.
Everyones talking to me, it seems, in the middle of the play: Youre doing this, said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, the most decorated of the newcomers. I have to figure it all out.
The four-time Pro Bowler initially lined up at right cornerback with the first-string defense, with holdover Asante Samuel on the left. But Asomugha moved around a lot. Sometimes he was in the slot, with Samuel and another newly arrived corner, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, on the outside. Sometimes he was part of a dime package. Sometimes he was even aligned on the tight end (No more tight ends killing us, said Joselio Hanson, now fourth on the cornerback pecking order).
The Birds can obviously use Asomugha a lot of ways, and are interested in exploring every option. Kind of left his head spinning, though.
It makes it a little more difficult, said Asomugha, who signed a five-year, 60 million contract with the team last Friday. But they put that on me, because they know and I know I can get it down. Ive got to get in my book and figure that out.
Samuel said it was definitely great to have the entire complement of defensive backs on the field, and was unbothered by any problems they might have encountered.
If its new players out there, its going to be a lot of communicating errors in the beginning anyway, he said. Thats why youre out there, practicing and getting reps, so we can get everybody on one page.
But in most peoples minds there is plenty of reason for optimism.
We get out there with all that speed, Hanson said, and youre not going to have any windows to throw the ball (through).
And, he said, We get up two touchdowns, its going to be a tough way to come back (by throwing).
But as Samuel said, Its just on paper now, so well have to wait and see until the action comes up, and see how we do.
Not to mention whos doing it. Samuel has been the subject of trade speculation, the thinking being that he is no longer needed with Asomugha around. Nor is it clear how Samuel feels about being the second-best corner (not to mention the second-highest-paid corner) on his own team.
He wouldnt say last week whether he had asked to be dealt, though he did say, I want to be where Im wanted.
On Friday he was asked if he felt any better about the situation.
Im out here every day to work hard and just do what I do, he said. They pay me to come here and come to work every day, so thats what Im going to do.
Another question: Has he received any assurances from the team that he will be here all season?
They pay me to come here and go to work every day, he said.
In order, that would be name, rank and serial number.
Anyway, someone finally asked him if there was any talk about restructuring his contract.
Thats it, he said. Ill see you guys later.
Asomugha said it was a relief to finally see the field. He intercepted Vince Young during one drill -- That felt good, he said -- and added that in general it was good to get out there and get the movements down again.
But in another drill he was beaten on a double-move by Sinorice Moss, who gathered in a pass from Michael Vick for a long gain. And theres all that learning to do, too.
You never know whats going to come at you, Asomugha said. You dont even know if you still have your techniques down. Im just trying to learn the coverages. I messed up so many times out there in what we were running. It was good to do that and make those mistakes, so I dont have to make them in the future.
For more from Gordie, check out his blog