Joe Mays first got the attention of Eagles fans during the preseason last year.
A sixth-round pick out of North Dakota State, he was flying around the field, trying to make an impression on the coaches and earn a roster spot.
This year, the scenario is a little different. The roster spot is his. And by all accounts, a starting spot is his also. Mays has been taking all the reps with the first team at middle linebacker in the Eagles' base defense. It's been Omar Gaither on the field when the team goes to its nickel package.
While his role is different, Mays said today his mindset is not.
"No. It's still the same," he said. "Come in hungry, come in like I want to play, come in like I want to make the team. Those are the only three things that I'm worried about right now and I just let everything else fall into place."
I asked Mays what the most challenging thing has been for him since he took over for an injured Stewart Bradley. His answer was surprising.
"Nothing's been challenging," he said. "It's been something that I've been looking forward to, something that I have to do. It hasn't been challenging at all. I'm just waiting 'til the season comes so I'll be able to go out there and just play."
It wasn't a cocky answer. It was a confident one from a guy who has to be sure of himself, for the Eagles' sake.
Of course, saying it and showing it are two different things. We won't know just how capable Mays is until the real games begin.
But a lot of eyes will be on No. 51 Thursday when the Birds open the preseason at home against the Patriots.
A different year, a different role, but the mentality is still the same.
Some other notes:
** Back in Philly. It was a great run at Lehigh. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read, e-mail, comment, Tweet or whatever. I enjoyed providing coverage, and we got off to a good start on the '09 season.
** And also thanks to Danny Abelson. He was the guy shooting and editing the video, typing up blog posts if I was on the field, and pretty much helping the operation run smoothly in every way possible. Remember the name. You'll be hearing back from this guy once he gets through four years at Syracuse.
** Probably the biggest compliment MTC has received was from my buddy Lemur, who said he noticed a printed out version of the blog on the floor of the bathroom stall where he works. Really the greatest level of praise for a blogger, I must say.
** I'll be chatting Eagles Wednesday at 1 p.m. so be sure to join me. I'll answer whatever questions are on your mind.
** The ESPN crew was at camp today. That included Chris Mortensen and his huge bus. But more importantly, it included ESPN.com's NFC East blogger Matt Mosley, who agreed to link to MTC more in his Beastlines. OK, not really, but he was a nice guy nonetheless and it was a pleasure to meet him.
** Below is today's video report. I asked the Inquirer's Bob Brookover to name his biggest positive and negative from training camp.