The Axeman Cometh

       The Eagles left the practice field Thursday afternoon for the last time until rookies and select vets report to Lehigh, July 21. As Eagles coach Andy Reid was careful to point out, there are very few conclusions to be drawn from a couple weeks of running around in short pants, with no contact. These sessions are mainly to acclimate newcomers to the offense and the defense.

    Obviously, though, some decisions are made -- the Dan Klecko fullback experiment was quickly abandoned, leaving Klecko a longshot to make the team as a 5-11, 275-pound defensive tackle (who really looks a little shorter and lighter than that). Winston Justice got a look at right guard, and Reid indicated there will be coaching staff discussions about whether to give him some reps there in camp. Kevin Kolb, given exra reps at quarterback because of Donovan McNabb's shoulder tendinitis, ran the first team well enough to reinforce the decison to make him the No. 2 QB going into camp..

   And even though Reid wouldn't give any specific hints yesterday, even more has been decided. Because teams no longer get six NFL Europe roster exemptions for training camp, the Birds' roster is going to have to go from 88 to 80 by Lehigh; the team has eight draftees to sign and no roster space, right now. All indications are that those decisions will be made sooner rather than later, so the draftees signings can continue. Don't be surprised if the Eagles trim eight players by the weekend.

     Reid indicated again that he expects McNabb and hamstring sufferers Asante Samuel and DeSean Jackson to be just fine for Lehigh. Another team source insisted McNabb would have never even taken any time off if this were the regular season, that his shoulder soreness is of no consequence.

    Reid said he got a sense of improved team speed in these drills, which he wants to see maintained throughout the hitting and the inevitable bruises and bumps of training camp. He indicated he didn't see hints of improved quickness carried over into camp last year.

     Asked one more time about unhappy cornerback Lito Sheppard, Reid said: "I expect him at training camp." Sheppard skipped this voluntary series of workouts.