BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Though temperatures cooled Saturday at Lehigh, the players blood still boiled when full-contact drills commenced at 9 a.m.
Frustration tends to mount when 300-pound men scratch and claw at each other for days and days on hot playing fields, especially after an extended lockout kept them caged for so long.
The result was two altercations that turned into full-on mles before you could blink. The first involved the entire first-team offensive and defensive lines during full-team drills. The fight started between Derek Landry and A.Q. Shipley, but defensive end Daniel TeoNesheim caught the worst of it, ending up under the mass of bodies that piled on top of each other.
The second developed from enraged rookie guard Danny Watkins shoving linebacker Moise Fokou to the ground after the end-of-play whistle. Linemates rushed in to protect their own as pushing and a whole lot of trash talk ensued before coaches broke up the tussle.
Afterward, defensive end Darryl Tapp attempted to find an explanation for the sudden bout of feistiness.
Were in the dog days. We dont have anything really to look forward to right now. The game is still a week away, so it got a little testy out there, he said.
Wed rather be hitting another team instead of hitting our own guys, tight end Brent Celek said. It gets old.
Watkins wasnt as willing to discuss his first training camp fight.
What happens on the field stays on the field, he said. Its behind us so its done and over with.
The rookie out of Baylor added that the tussles were a positive sign because it reflects the energy level at camp.
Youre kind of starting to see that glow, he said. Weve got our first game coming up on Thursday, so its good to see guys are getting excited and charged up for that.
Rookie safety Jaiquawn Jarrett caught an interception after Chad Hall tipped a Michael Vick pass during full-team drills.
Later,Vick gunned a long completion to No. 2 tight end Clay Harbor down theleft sideline, perfectly placed over the head of linebacker CaseyMatthews and inside of safety Kurt Coleman.
After Jason Avantbeat Nnamdi Asomugha by a couple steps on a deep post, Vicks passsailed over Asomughas head but behind Avant. The receiver spun back tohis right and hauled in the bullet with one arm, drawing an ovationfrom the crowd.
Receiverreturn man Johnnie Lee Higgins showedoff his speed, sprinting past Asante Samuel on a fly route and divingto catch a Vick pass before Jarrett couldcome over to help.
Colemandelivered the biggest hit of the day on tight end Cornelius Ingram,lowering his shoulder on Ingram to break up a pass over the middle.
VinceYoung struggled with his accuracy, but his best throw of the day cameon a fly down the right sidelineto training camps breakout widereceiver, Sinorice Moss, who beat rookie corner Curtis Marsh. Younglofted a tight spiral that dropped right into Moss' hands.
During 7 on 7s, linebacker Akeem Jordan undercut the tight ends route to intercept a Mike Kafka pass for a pick-6.
Play of the day
Darryl Tapps pick-6. On the last full-team play of the day, defensiveend Darryl Tapp batted Kafkas pass into the air, then ran it down foran interception. The 270-pounder sprinted the other way with the balland appeared to have a free path to the end zone. That was until Vick,who wasnt even participating in the play, sprinted from the sidelineand tracked down Tapp.
The biggest thing was getting off on theball. Thats something that coach Jim Washburn and coach JuanCastillo have been preaching to the defensive line consistentlythroughout camp, Tapp said afterward. I was able to get a greatget-off, saw the ball coming out high because of the blitz, got my handon it, saw the ball, made a play on it and took off.
And on being chased down by the NFLs fastest quarterback, Tapp added with a laugh: That guys pretty fast.
Player of the day
Defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove. Hargrove, a six-year veteran signedon Wednesday,took advantage of his opportunity to get first-team repswith Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws and Antonio Dixon out, clogging up andbursting through the middle on numerous plays throughout full-team and7-on-7 drills.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder made his presence felteven more before and after plays, screaming words of encouragement andpumping up his defensive teammates throughout the morning practice. Hewas both a leader and an instigator, as his activity and constant talkmay have contributed to the tussles that occurred between the defensiveand offensive linemen. Among his many entertaining highlights: Pressurefrom Hargrove and his linemates forced Vick to throw away a screen passto the sideline. Still upset after jumping offsides on the previousplay, Hargrove sprinted to grab the rolling ball and picked it up,yelling ball, ball, ball!" along the way.
Asante the entertainer
Whether Asante Samuel will stay or go remains one of training campsbiggest questions. But that will be settled off the field. On thefield, Samuel appears to be having the most fun of anyone at camp.
Theanimated cornerback even managed to turn routine defensive back vs.wide receiver drills into perhaps the most entertaining scene of theday. Before and after plays, Samuel pranced around the field, wavinghis arms to pump up the crowd. When Jason Avant tipped and bobbled along pass before the ball finally fell to the ground, Samuel ran overand played referee, waving his arms side to side to signal for anincompletion.
The show continued during full-team drills. Aftersome offensive miscommunication on one play, Samuel stepped in from thesidelines to yell, Back em up five yards, illegal formation! Onanother, Vick checked the ball down to Ingram after he couldnt find anopening downfield. Samuel made sure to let his QB know that the defensewon that play. That was a zero yard gain! he screamed. That was awaste of a play!
Henery tries his foot in new role
Facedwith the unenviable task of replacing fan favorite David Akers, rookiekicker Alex Henery has enough on his plate heading into his rookieseason. But added to the pressure and expectations is the newresponsibility of handling the Eagles kickoff duties.
Henerysaid the Nebraska teams he played for had kickoff specialists, so hestuck strictly to kicking field goals. Saturday morning, though, helooked more than ready for his new role. Most of Henerys kickoffsduring special teams drills went into the end zone, and some evensailed out of the end zone. He also made 5 of 7 field goals of between40 and 52 yards.
I feel comfortable doing it, Henery said of kicking off. Thats what I worked on a lot in the off-season.
Apunter for two of his four years with the Cornhuskers, Henery is alsoserving as the Eagles backup at that spot. All while a billboardpurchased by Akers as a thank you to the fans hangs in Philadelphia.
Withsuch a large workload on the field, Henery said he tries not to worryabout the scrutiny that comes with replacing Akers. Plus, hes beenthrough a similar process before, having followed in the footsteps ofNebraska kickers Josh and Kris Brown, both of whom have had successfulNFL careers.
Newcomer starts at RT
Recently signed offensive tackle Ryan Harris took snaps with the first team.
Afterpractice, Harris said he'll play "wherever the coaches decide I suitbest," but added that "they're looking for someone" to fill thestarting right tackle spot with Winston Justice still out.
Harrisis slimmer than Justice at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, but may be a betterfit in offensive line coach Howard Mudd's scheme. Harris, a Notre Dameproduct, said he already thinks Mudd has helped improve his game afterjust two days of practice.
"Hes just go so much experience. It makes it interesting atthis point in my career to learn from a new offensive line coach," Harris said, adding that the new scheme is "definitelydifferent" from the one he ran in Denver, including changed snap counts and positioning.