Shawn Andrews might not be here for some mysterious reason and neither Brian Westbrook nor Lito Sheppard is particularly thrilled about their current contracts, but Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie sees good things ahead for his football team.
"I'm very pumped for this season," Lurie said during his annual state-of-the-team address at Lehigh Univeristy. "There are very high expectations for this team: Healthy quarterback. He looks great. Very fast defense, much more athletic on offense and I'm very excited about a lot of things."
Lurie sounded convinced that the Eagles will be a Super Bowl contender in 2008 even though they are in the same division with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, who are the NFC favorite to reach the Super Bowl this year.
"Part of the reason I'm really pumped up about this season is we have a real healthy Donovan McNabb who looks great out there," Lurie said. "We're very used to succeeding on significant level and it is disappointing when we don't or can't. We approach every season with very high expectations. This isn't about rebuilding or retooling. This is going for it. That's our approach. It's pedal to the medal. That's what every move is based on."
The owner indicated that last year's 8-8 last-place finish had more to do with injuries than personnel and coaching.
"It's a collision sport, what can I say," Lurie said. "You think you put together an outstanding team that's going to go very far, but sometimes you have to understand that you're not going to have the players on the field that you expect to be on the field. That happens in this sport."
Asked about Westbrook's contract situation, Lurie agreed with the running back that he has outperformed his contract.
"My philosophy and I think the organization's philosophy is just to try to always be fair," Lurie said. "We're the distribution mechanism for these 53 players. You try to be fair and do contracts when they make sense for the team and you're trying to spread it out the best you can so you can have the best possible roster. At the same time, you want to be fair to every single player. I just think there's a sense of fairness we try to uphold, but you can't always succeed at it."
Asked about agent Drew Rosenhaus' recent plea for Lito Sheppard to get a new deal, Lurie said he didn't want to comment on it.
"I try to be positive about every single player on the roster and I don't get involved in the press about agents nor do I deal directly with agents, so I'm not even going to address that," Lurie said. "I will say I hope Lito has a terrific season and shows us and the league that he's back to the old Lito and healthy with great playmaking ability and ... I think that's what he's going to do."
As for Andrews, Lurie admitted he was disappointed his two-time Pro Bowl guard wasn't in attendance.
"Other players get reps and improve and that's the game of football," Lurie said. "We've got to prepare. He's been hurt before, so we've had to prepare any way. I'm hopeful Shawn will have a terrific season and things will work themselves out."
NO MORE CONTACT
With the Eagles' first preseason game scheduled for Friday, coach Andy Reid conducted his final full contact practice of training camp today.
"We've had two days of two live periods ... so there has been a lot of banging on the guys," Reid said. "The schedule has us backing off tomorrow and Wednesday."
IT'S A GOOD SIGN IF ...
_You're Donovan McNabb and throwing lasers right into the chest of Kevin Curtis 25 yards down field.
_You're Trent Cole and you're stopping Lorenzo Booker for a three-yard loss during a red-zone defensive period.
_You're Stewart Bradley and you flatten Booker for no gain.
IT'S NOT A GOOD SIGN IF ...
_You're Max Jean Gilles and you let defensive tackle Dan Klecko blast by you for a sack of McNabb.
_You're Matt Schobel and you let linebacker Akeem Jordan strip the football after a completion.
_You're fullback Luke Lawton and you're flagged for a false start.