BETHLEHEM -- Today's morning session was hot, hot, hot. We don't have those fancy National Weather Service stats here at Eagletarian, but our gauge, which measures the extent to which the polo shirt sticks to our back, indicates that this was the warmest day of camp, the adhesion level rising up from the kidneys, through the middle of the back and well into the shoulder blades.
Tempers flared a bit, as well. The catalyst, as has often been the case, was new weakside linebacker Ernie Sims, who caught running back Eldra Buckley as Buckley reached for a high Kevin Kolb screen pass. It wasn't really a live tackling drill, and Sims didn't really tackle Buckley, as much as he tried to remove his head from his shoulders.
Offensive teammates, most notably left tackle Jason Peters and center Mike McGlynn, came over for a friendly chat with Sims, while corner Asante Samuel chirped something about "putting on white (defensive) jerseys if they didn't like it." (If you're wearing a defensive jersey, you get to hit Ernie Sims? How would that work, exactly?)
Sims has made a habit of this sort of thing, and is something of a Lehigh fan favorite because of it. Of course, in the regular season, after refs mark off 15 yards a couple times, that might be less the case. (In fact, this is exactly the sort of hit that is now going to be penalized, the way the traveling refs explained it at camp last week.)
"It is what it is, I guess ... It's part of practice. Everybody's fired up. But when something like that happens, you've got to stand up for your guys," McGlynn said. "They'd do the same thing if we did that to one of theirs."
Given a little more media nudging, McGlynn revealed more of what he really thought.
"When a guy's defenseless like that (long pause), there's not much more I can say," said McGlynn.
Sims didn't see it that way.
"It was hot today. It was a rough day mentally and physically. You had to go out there and fight the heat ... the play where I made the hit, I just made a good read. It was a screen; I saw the tackle and the guard come out. Just playing football, pretty much. I saw Buckley go up in the air," Sims said. "I didn't try to go all through him, but I took a little shot at him, and he kind of hit the ground. It was a good play, though."
Reminded that this was not a universal opinion on the field, Sims said his way of handling such disputes was to "play football."
"If they don't like it, it is what it is," he said. "At the end of the day, when it comes gametime, they know that I'm going to step up to the plate. That type of stuff is going to happen; I expect offensive players to step up for their teammate. At the same time, my defensive players are going to step up for me. That's the way a team works. But on gameday, we all work for each other."
Buckley, applauded the day before when he bounced off a Samuel hit to gain extra yardage, has never complained about any of the shots he has taken, and he didn't start.
'That's the kind of player he is, he's flying to the ball, just trying to make contact," Buckley said. "I gotta respect that, because I'm the same kind of player. If I get in the open field, I'm gonna lower my shoulder. I just gotta respect his game, and hopefully, he'll respect mine ... Whatever it takes for him to get better, he's got to do it."
Buckley said he felt his teammates' reaction stemmed from the fact that this wasn't a live period. As Eagles coach Andy Reid joked, "he missed it by one play," Sims delivering the hit on the final snap of a passing drill, before a live session.
But Reid sat Sims out a while after a big hit in a similar situation last week.
"His first reaction is, he wants to take your head off, and I appreciate that, I think that's contagious," Reid said. "I like that attitude ... When the ball's in the air, on a screen-type pass, he's kind of going for ball and player all at the same time. Sometimes a collision will take place. I didn't see anything that was extremely bad, but at the same time, you don't want to do anything to hurt your teammates."
*Austin Howard, the undrafted rookie tackle, did a good job of picking up Dimitri Patterson on a corner blitz.
*Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson both practiced and seemed back in full stride, both connecting on long balls with Kevin Kolb.
*Stewart Bradley got good coverage over the middle on Brent Celek and swatted away a Kolb pass.
*Eldra Buckley, getting extra reps with LeSean McCoy battling heat problems and Mike Bell (hamstring) and J.J. Arrington (foot) also sidelined, broke clean up the middle on a draw.
*Kolb checked down to Jackson in the teeth of a blitz, but Djax was surprised by the ball and it whizzed past untouched.
Reid's update of the injury situation included a Hank Baskett MCL strain that kept the veteran wideout off the field. TE Cornelius Ingram was a partial participant with swelling in his calf that Reid said migrated down from Ingram's twice-repaired left knee.
Martin Rucker got one day of healthy practice in, returning from his hamstring pull just in time to not get an injury settlement when he was cut. The Birds added TE Nate Lawrie, who has been a Buc, a Bengal and a Saint since his 2004 training camp with the Eagles, as a rookie out of Yale.