Coach Andy Reid said there are many unknowns heading into the start of training camp tomorrow, adding perhaps a little more juice to the practices he has led for more than a decade now.
"There’s a little bit of unknown, which I kind of like. I like that, I think it's a great challenge," Reid said on the eve of his first training camp without Donovan McNabb. "There's some big name players that have been proven players on this football team that aren’t here, and so it’s important that the young guys step up and they go, and that to me is exciting."
Reid said he was eager to see how all the team's draft picks on defense adapt to difficult practices day after hot day.
"I can’t wait to see those guys go here and hit and be able to sustain. I think they’ll do real good the first day, but I want to see after the third day, fourth day, when the body is sore and the mind’s tired and it’s hard to get out of bed. I want to see how they react to that," Reid said.
With rookies competing at defensive end, strong side linebacker, cornerback and safety, their performances will be critical for a successful season.
On offense, Reid mentioned seeing LeSean McCoy as he becomes the team's top runner, Jeremy Maclin as he looks to improve on his rookie season, and, of course, Kevin Kolb, the quarterback Reid has tabbed to replace the best passer in team history.
"I’m curious to see how it all works out," Reid said, sounding for a moment like the many Eagles fans wondering if their new look team can measure up to their recent standards.
Kolb, for his part, was his usual self: low key, confident and deflecting attention, his sunglasses dangling from a white T-shirt as he pulled up to his dorm in a Chevrolet pick up with Texas license plates.
It was the reaction to him that was different. Cameramen and reporters with all manner of recorders swarmed Kolb for a chance to hear his early thoughts a day before rookies and selected veterans begin the team's 2010 training camp at Lehigh University.
Kolb took his new status as a focal point in stride.
"I try not to get too caught up in (the attention) and just focus on the game and focus on practice tomorrow," Kolb said.
"I don’t want to get too caught up in trying to fill Donovan’s shoes or being the quarterback of the Eagles. I just want to play the game that I know how and distribute the ball to the athletes that are around me," he said.
Kolb was one of just a few selected veterans who reported to work today. For the most part it was a day for rookies arriving at their first NFL training camp, toting pillows and duffel bags and big hopes. Kurt Coleman, a seventh round draft pick, wore a Nike shirt that played off the sneaker company's World Cup ad campaign: "Write the Future" it said.
That's what a new generation of Eagles will begin doing here tomorrow.