BETHLEHEM — Ol’ Nick Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he. Then the Eagles training staff called for him to leave.
The starting center was sluggish running from field-to-field during this morning’s full-pads practice. Trainers intercepted Cole and advised him to head for the locker room early with the swollen knee that has bothered him for several days.
Cole was favoring his left knee, walking back to the fieldhouse on his own. You got the impression Cole was trying to fight through the pain and stick it out. After practice, Cole said as much, and that he'd be fine, but it’s up to the trainers to determine when he’ll return to practice.
So, Mike McGlynn, come on down. The reshuffling of the offensive line continued with McGlynn taking first-team reps at center and Dallas Reynolds bumping into the No. 2 slot. Center A.Q. Shipley (ankle) also returned to practice but later was back rehabbing on the far field.
McGlynn played right tackle for four years at Pitt and has spent most of his Eagles career at guard, also practicing at center, more toward the end of last season after Jamaal Jackson went down with an ACL tear. So, for now, it appears he’ll be the first-team center until Cole returns, not that it’s bothering McGlynn, who just wants a job.
“Obviously my goal was to always be a starter in the NFL,” he said. “Only five guys get to do it, and it’s tough, but that’s my goal. I wanna be a starting center, guard, wherever in the NFL.”
The loss of Cole, along with the slow return of left guard Todd Herremans (PUP, foot), leaves more uncertainty with an offensive line that really hasn’t proven much. Typically, the unit is one that takes longer to gel, and a juggling act up front could disrupt the development of the offense.
“The more and more you play together, obviously the better guys are gonna get as a unit,” McGlynn said. “But we’re paid to play the position. You’re expected to get in there and don’t lose a step.”
Right tackle Winston Justice dismissed the notion the group wouldn’t be as cohesive with a revolving door of linemen on the first-team, because the backups aren’t new to offensive line coach Juan Castillo’s system.
“We always have a main group of guys there,” Justice said. “We just need to roll with the people we have. The people we have have played before, so that’s the good thing about it.
“It’s not like we just picked up new people for this year.”
The new people the Eagles have picked up this year — such as the Riley Coopers and the Kelley Washingtons — are getting chances to impress at the wide receiver position with Jeremy Maclin still on the mend. Maclin spent the morning in shorts with cornerback Asante Samuel doing rehab work.
For Hank Baskett, competing with Cooper for that No. 4 receiver spot, another year, same story.
“You never want an opportunity to come because someone gets hurt,” Baskett said. “That’s been my role the past couple seasons I’ve been here; someone gets tired or unfortunately injured, [coaches] trust that I can go in there help make plays. I get to go out here and reassure the coaches that I know what I’m doing.”
Running backs LeSean McCoy and Mike Bell were taking direct snaps in a Wildcat look before warmups. Michael Vick figures to be the main operator of that formation, but lining up McCoy in a pistol-look adds another wrinkle to the offense.
Bell started warmups in full pads, then joined the rehab crew during practice. Tight end Martin Rucker (hamstring) returned to practice.
Also, Larry O’Rourke, longtime Eagles beat writer for The Allentown Morning Call made an appearance at training camp today and was strong enough to fire a couple questions at Reid’s press conference. O’Rourke has been fighting ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) for almost three years, and the disease has confined him to a wheelchair and greatly reduced his speaking ability.
Read about Larry’s story here.