Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Watkins and Eagles await end of lockout

When I originally planned on heading over to PowerTrain Sports in Cherry Hill, where a number of Eagles have worked out this off-season, the intention was to get reaction from the players a day after they voted in favor of the proposed collective bargaining agreement.

Watkins and Eagles await end of lockout

Danny Watkins was the Eagles´ first-round pick in April´s NFL draft. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Danny Watkins was the Eagles' first-round pick in April's NFL draft. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

When I originally planned on heading over to PowerTrain Sports in Cherry Hill, where a number of Eagles have worked out this off-season, the intention was to get reaction from the players a day after they voted in favor of the proposed collective bargaining agreement.

Oops.

The players, after meeting in Washington on Wednesday, decided to not vote even though the owners appeared set to ratify the new CBA Thursday in Atlanta. Instead, they remained locked out and NFL fans remain left in the lurch with the latest deadline nearly gone.

(Colleague Jonathan Tamari has the latest from the NFL owners' meetings in Atlanta and the continued haggling over an agreement.)

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So the reaction from some of the Eagles remained the same as it's been for the last four months of the work stoppage.

“Until I totally see it said, “It’s done,” I’m going under the assumption that it’s still a lockout,” said kicker David Akers said. “Obviously, we want to get back going.”

Akers, of course, is likely no longer an Eagle. More on that later. But I did manage to get some updates on the players that will be on the roster for the coming season.

Danny Watkins

The Eagles' No. 1 draft pick returned to Philadelphia yesterday to move into his new home, but also to be nearby in case the lockout ends and coach Andy Reid calls the rookies to the NovaCare Complex for a mini minicamp before training camp.

Watkins said that the second the phone rings with news that the lockout is over he was going to call Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd.

"I'll be asking him to meet me somewhere at the facility or wherever," Watkins said. "I'm chomping at the bit, itching, wanting to learn. I got to learn the techniques and the offense and I want to contribute right away."

Watkins needs a contract before he can report, though. The Eagles' last two No. 1 picks -- receiver Jeremy Maclin and defensive end Brandon Graham -- missed part of training camp in holdouts. But with the new rookie salary structure there shouldn't be as much haggling between team and agent.

Watkins, who is penciled in as the Eagles' starting right guard, said he doesn't anticipate missing any time.

"I'm already so far behind the eight ball, the last thing I want to be doing is not being there and not getting ready to roll," Watkins said.

The 26-year-old Baylor product said he received a playbook from the Eagles following the draft, but that there wasn't much in it for offensive linemen other than basic pass protections.

Trevor Laws

Laws has been PowerSports trainer Steve Saunders' prized pupil this off-season.

"I've been killing it this whole off-season," the defensive tackle said. "I think this is probably my 94th workout of the off-season."

Laws, who is entering his fourth season, said that he is as strong as he's even been -- setting a personal mark in the bench press -- and that he's added 10 pounds of muscle and now weighs 311 pounds.

"A lot of that is in my butt," he said.

Laws improved last season, but was used mostly on only passing downs. He said his goal is to be a three-down tackle. He'll have competition from veterans Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley and Antonio Dixon, who was starting by the end of the season.

Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has been linked to the Eagles because of the former Titans All-Pro's relationship with new defensive line coach Jim Washburn. But Haynesworth remains under contract even though Washington wants to unload the 30-year old.

"I've seen him play and he's a killer," Laws said. "Who knows? I've heard a bunch of things about him off the field. I never met the guy myself so I can't say anything about that. But just seeing some of the things that he's done and if Washburn can motivate him to play ... having a guy like that on our d-line would be tough to stop."

Clay Harbor

Harbor returned to Philly about two weeks ago after spending most of the off-season in Missouri. The tight end has spent some of the last few weeks catching passes from Eagles quarterback Mike Kakfa. They threw Thursday in Marlton with wide receiver Jason Avant.

Harbor has also bulked up and said he weighs 256 pounds, ten more than his average weight last season. He said some players have taken advantage of the lockout and the likelihood that others haven't been as diligent.

"I feel like I'm going to work harder than the next guy and that's going to give me a leg up on the competition," Harbor said. "Some guys may look at it as an extended vacation and I didn't look at it that way."

Trevard Lindley

Lindley, entering his second season, could compete for the right cornerback spot if the Eagles don't acquire a starter before camp. Most expect the Eagles to either sign a free agent cornerback or trade for one, but Lindley still wants a shot.

"If they give me the chance I think I can step in and do the job," Lindley said. "I got a little playing time last year and I think I showed the coaches what I can do."

David Akers

Akers' days with the Eagles are likely over, but he's still listed on their official roster. The Eagles offered Akers their transition tender before the lockout, but the kicker did not sign it. The team went on to draft kicker Alex Henery, signaling the end of the Akers era.

But can Akers sign the transition tender -- expected to be around $3 million -- once the new CBA is in place and thus force the Eagles to make a decision?

"I don't know if the tag's even going to be valid," Akers said. "I'm pretty sure it's not."

Akers is likely headed to free agency. He has no idea where he may land.

"Employment's just nice now," Akers said.

Some have speculated that he may sign with the Cowboys or Redskins, two NFC East teams in need of a kicker. Could Akers latch on with one of the Eagles' bitter rivals?

"I've played for other teams before I played for the Eagles," Akers said. "I want to have a job. I want to play. I've stated it so many times I wanted to be an Eagle and retire as an Eagle. Sometimes you just can't get what you want."

While some of PowerTrain's regular Eagles clients -- tackle Todd Herremans, tight end Brent Celek and linebacker Jamar Chaney, to name a few -- were missing Thursday, linebacker Keenan Clayton, defensive end Victor Abiamiri, tackle Austin Howard and running back Eldra Buckley were on site working out.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
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