Eckel signs with Eagles

The Eagles apparently do need a real fullback after all.

Epsicopal Academy product Kyle Eckel is coming home. The Birds signed Eckel this afternoon and released safety J.R. Reed.

How long will it take for Eckel, who has no background in the West Coast offense, to get ready?

“Hopefully, quick,” Eckel said, when asked to estimate a time frame for learning what he needs to know to be effective. “I’m going to work hard ... I’ll be 100 percent dedicated to learning it.”

The Eagles released Tony Hunt last week and had previously moved Dan Klecko back to fullback. Now the possibility exists that Klecko could return to defense once Eckel has learned enough to get in the lineup.

Eckel, also a graduate of the Naval Academy, spent the 2007 season with the New England Patriots. After being promoted from their practice squad on Oct. 1, he played in 12 regular-season games and two postseason games. He gained 90 yards and 2 touchdowns on 33 carries and notched 12 special teams tackles.

Eckel (5-11, 237) was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent in 2005, but was released following training camp that year. He was claimed off waivers by Miami, but spent the parts of two seasons on the reserve/military list with the Dolphins.

While at the Naval Academy, Eckel became the third player in school history to post two 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his career as he finished with 2,906 yards and 25 touchdowns.

The Eagles released fullback Jed Collins from the practice squad and signed guard Nevin McCaskill.

McCaskill was originally signed as an undrafted free agent from Hampton by Buffalo in 2007 and spent his entire rookie season on the practice squad.