When the Eagles included safety Quintin Demps among the handful of veterans asked to show for the rookie camp that started today at NovaCare, it wasn't because they liked his play last season so much that they just had to see more of him.
Demps began the 2009 offseason as the presumed heir to Brian Dawkins at free safety. He ended it having played in nine games, none of them as a starter. The brash aggressiveness that had helped Demps get on the field the previous season as a rookie did not wear well in year two; it came off as unearned arrogance. Demps was hobbled by hamstring and ankle injuries, but even when he was healthy, new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott didn't seem to have much use for him, in a season that saw the Eagles struggle mightily at free safety.
So far, the 2010 Demps seems much more humble; he talks of wanting to show how he has grown up. But the Eagles drafted South Florida safety Nate Allen in the second round last month, after signing the Colts' Marlin Jackson as a free agent. Allen will be given every chance to start as a rookie. Coming off back-to-back knee surgeries, Jackson seems slated more for safety than corner once he fully recuperates. (Jackson was noticeably gimpy today.) Meanwhile, Macho Harris, who started eight games at safety as a fifth-round rookie last year, is now playing cornerback.
So, it's possible Demps will regain the chance he fumbled away a year ago, but it is far from a sure thing. He is here right now, it would seem, because he is on the fringes of the roster, along with other such former pet projects as linebacker Joe Mays.
"Whatever's on my plate, man, I'm going to eat it and ask for dessert," Demps said.
Earlier this week he graduated from Texas-El Paso with his degree in general studies. He went back to finish his schoolwork "to set a good example for my (2) kids," he said. "I can't be telling my kids to go to college and graduate, and I don't have a degree."
Demps, who got married during the season, went to Haiti this offseason with offensive tackle Winston Justice, to help with earthquake relief efforts at an orphanage.
"Just growin' up, man, maturing. Becoming a real professional. That's what it's all about," said Demps, who turns 25 next month. "I'm just humble and hopeful."
A source close to the situation said the Eagles have no interest in 35-year-old corner Shawn Springs, who reportedly failed a physical before being released by New England.
Eagles 2008 third-round defensive end Bryan Smith suffered an ACL tear in his first workout with Jacksonville this week and presumably will miss the season.