Howard Mudd couldnt sit around any longer.
After spending the team's OTAs at home, a deal he worked out with Andy Reid, the offensive line coach was back at Eagles practice on the first day of minicamp Tuesday.
I told him to go practice retirement, Reid quipped. He wasnt very good at it the last time, if I was able to talk him out of it. About the third day he went home he was ready to come back.
It was the first time since the players returned to the field this spring that Mudd saw the team in action. His impression on the Birds progress?
I feel like were right where we left off last year, he said. Except Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins are even further along.
One glaring change from a year ago is at left tackle. Demetress Bell will likely start at the position for the injured Jason Peters this season.
Tuesdays session marked the first time Mudd saw Bell live in practice, though he did see him workout before the Eagles signed him.
Hes exactly what I thought we were gonna get when we signed him, he said. Hes got a very good spirit about him, very tough-minded, wants to learn.
Bell will be taking over for All-Pro left tackle Peters, who is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles tendon. But Mudd isnt concerned about the oversized shoes Bell has been asked to fill.
Jason is one of a kind, he said. I dont even think about that. I think Bell will help us win games.
Mudd's being back should help the Eagles win games, too, or at the very least keep Michael Vick a bit safer. Under his tutelage, the Eagles improved from allowing 49 sacks in 2010, to just 32 in 2011, his first year with the team.
Though Reid said Eugene Chung, who assumed Mudds duties while he was away, did a nice job, he was glad to see the 70-year-old coach back on the field directing drills.
Its good to have Howard back in there, Reid said. Not that Eugene didnt do a good job. But Howard, youre talking about the finest offensive line coach who has coached the game. Thats how hes respected in this league, so for him to be back is a good thing.
And now that hes back, Mudd doesnt think hell be taking any more hiatuses. Though a full NFL season can sometimes be as grueling on the coaches as it is on the players, Mudd believes hell be fine.
Coaches coach with their brains, so my brain works fine, he said. My wife says shes concerned about it, but Im good.
And that 16-game schedule?
Well, I wasnt thinking of the 16, he said. I was thinking more of those 19. I like that idea a lot.
This and that
Offensive play of the day: Michael Vick threw a quick out to DeSean Jackson and Jackson did the rest. He burned the defense down the sideline and took it to the house. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans was the closest but he had no shot.
Offensive play of the day II: Brent Celek made a nice jumping catch over Casey Matthews on a toss from Vick.
Defensive play of the day: Cullen Jenkins got his big ol hands in the way of a Vick pass coming across the middle. Jenkins didnt really bat the pass. It was more like he swallowed it in his arms for an interception.
Quote of the day: Its all good. Im going to prove myself and get myself back in the top 20 next year. Vick on being ranked 70th on the NFL Networks list of the top 100 players in the league.
Stupid observation of the day: Sometimes Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie does a little dance while running back to the line of scrimmage. Its like a shuffle or a salsa dance. Hes a trip.
Most important thing: no injuries reported by Andy Reid.
Fletcher Cox was the only Eagle not in attendance on Tuesday. His absence was excused because of a death in his family. Reid said Coxs cousin was in a car accident. Cox will be back in town Tuesday night and if hes able to, will be on the field Wednesday.
Three players are trying out: linebacker Ryan Rau out of Portland State, defensive end Frank Trotter (no relation to Jeremiah) out of Memphis, and wide receiver Raymond Webber out of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
There are two more days of this minicamp. Its the last time the whole team will be together before training camp, which starts in late July at Lehigh University.
Reid addressed the team switching the format of training camp. Now, the walkthrough is in the morning and the more intense practice is in the afternoon.
With the change with the afternoon practice, I met with head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and we talked about recovery time, he said. Weve been presented with these new rules, so were doing our walk-through in the morning in this camp. In the afternoon, itll allow the players to be hydrated coming into practice along with getting two meals under their belt. Hopefully, that and the ability to allow them to walk around, get their lift in, and stretching, and so on, then they will come out and have a productive practice and limit the injuries and perform at a high speed.