Mudd: From Practicing Retirement to Practicing

Howard Mudd said the Eagles' o-line was right where it needed to be. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

The Eagles opened their final three days of workouts Tuesday before they adjourn, to then reassemble next month at Lehigh for training camp.  This is the mandatory minicamp, even for 71-year-old offensive line coach Howard Mudd, who made his first onfield appearance of the spring. Assistant Eugene Chung has been running the o-line at practices, with Mudd direction from afar.

"I told him to go practice retirement," Eagles coach Andy Reid joked. Reid lured Mudd out of retirement last year. "He wasn't very good at it last time -- if I was able to talk him out of it, he wasn't very good at it ... He's 71 years old, he came off a major hip surgery during the season, battled through that. He's got all kind of energy. Give him a little bit of time to get himself together and get back out here, and he's gung-ho. Actually, after about the third day that he went home, he was ready to come back."

Mudd, who said he spent the time in Arizona and Seattle, said: "Coaches coach with their brains. My brain still works. Well, my wife says she's concerned about it, but no, I'm good. I really am.

"You don't have the same energy when you're older. You just don't. I think it's important (to be able to get away during noncritical times). I gotta be honest, I feel very rejuvenated. I feel vital. I was sitting with Eugene this morning watching some of the video of the past practices, and I said, 'do you realize how much I like this?' And he laughed ... I feel very fortunate that Andy let me do what I did, because there's still some gas in the tank. I want to drive fast, too, and I want to go a long way."

This was the first time Mudd had seen new left tackle Demetress Bell in a practice setting (though the Birds still aren't hitting or even wearing pads, and won't be until Lehigh).

"He's really very athletic. He's exactly what I thought we were going to get when we signed him," in the wake of Jason Peters' Achilles injury, Mudd said. "He has a very good spirit about him. Very tough-minded. Wants to learn it. Not satisfied until he learns it, all that.

"Jason is kind of one of a kind. I've only coached one other guy like that in my whole coaching career, that's that physical -- Walter Jones [in Seattle], they're very much alike. But the truth of the matter is, I think Demetress has an unusual amount of athleticism, which we like here in our upfront stuff. We can do a lot with that, and the mental toughness and eagerness to get the thing right. I'm really, really delighted that we have him. Is it hard to replace [Peters]? I don't even think about that. I just think this guy will help us win games."

Overall, Mudd said he told second-year center Jason Kelce he thought the o-line was right where it needed to be, wrapping up spring drills.

Mudd said he told Kelce, "I feel like we're right where we left off last year, except you and Danny [Watkins, the other 2011 rookie starter] are even further along."


Everybody made it to this mandatory camp, except first-round rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Andy Reid said Cox was excused after a cousin died in an auto accident. Cox might return for Tuesday's workout, Reid said.