There were more reporters than players on hand for the Eagles' first training camp workout this morning, with only rookies, a sprinkling of vets coming off injuries, and the quarterbacks taking part. But Donovan McNabb seemed to be throwing the ball easily, with no lingering effects from the shoulder tendinitis that cropped up during minicamps.
McNabb said after practice that he expects to see Brian Westbrook when the remaining vets report on Thursday, and he doesn't expect the franchise running back's contract situation to get in the way of a successful season. "Westbrook will be here," McNabb said. "He's going to be the same guy we know."
It would have been more reassuring if McNabb's information had been a little better sourced, though.
"I haven't talked to him, I just feel like he'll be here," said McNabb, who added that Westbrook's attempts to revise his five-year $25 million contract, binding through 2010, are "none of my business."
Asked if it was important for Westbrook to be happy here, McNabb said: "I think we all want to be happy."
Cue Bobby McFerrin.
Meanwhile, the team and most observers began the day thinking Westbrook was in the process of hiring agent J.R. Rickert to replace Fletcher Smith, McNabb's agent, whom Westbrook fired last week. No puff of white smoke has so far been sighted coming out of the chmneys of Westbrook's Maryland horse farm, however, and the sense Tuesday afternoon was that Westbrook was still deciding between Rickert, a South Jersey native now living near Albany, N.Y., and Georgia-based Todd France. Rickert's clients include Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter. France represents Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither.
The Pro Football Talk Web site reported that Westbrook had hired France. When contacted by your Eagletarian, France said he was aware of the report but could not comment. He said he expected to know more on Wednesday. The NFL Players' Association Web site still does not list an agent for Westbrook, and an NFLPA spokesman has not returned calls or e-mails seeking comment.
Whichever lucky fellow finally gets the nod, he ought to expect to hit the ground running. The Eagles would very much like to put this headache behind them, and they are expected to move quickly to reopen talks on a revised deal, which were underway when Westbrook fired Smith.
In other news, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said linebackers Stewart Bradley and Omar Gaither will be designated to wear the NFL's new defensive helmet headsets, to communicate with the sidelines. That's because at least one or the other should be on the field at all times, Johnson figures, despite situational substitutions.
Johnson said he anticipates playing nickel 50 to 60 percent of the time, which might ease the crowded cornerback situation, where Asante Samuel, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown all are accustomed to starting