Lurie: Cowboys underrated; Banner a 'star'

I got out to Jeffrey Lurie's state-of-the-franchise address a little late today since I was getting the post on Brian Westbrook's rehab up on the blog.

But I made it in time to hear him call the Dallas Cowboys underrated.

"I think the team that is probably the most underrated in football is the Dallas Cowboys, because they entered last year with, by far, the most Pro Bowl players and sometimes it takes an extra year to really elevate and reach that," he said. "I look back on last year and I see Felix [Jones] and Marion Barber having some injuries and [Tashard] Choice did a good job."

Just struck me as an odd topic to come up at this thing, but this is my first time hearing Lurie's annual address so what do I know?

Lurie was also asked about team president Joe Banner, who was on the sidelines at practice today.

As you'd probably expect, he had nothing but great things to say.

“I see nothing but positive with Joe [Banner]. He is one of the best executives in sports," Lurie said. "Sometimes what’s written has no reflection of reality. He is one of the hardest working and best hearted people you could ever come across. I pay no attention to inappropriate headlines or anecdotal conversations or anything like that. We are talking about a star in the NFL and a star in sports. He does a great, great job.”

Funny moment during this morning's practice when Lurie was observing. Asante Samuel, talkative as usual, ran off the field and found the man paying him over $57 million.

"Hey Lurie, I know if you was a football player, you'd be on the defense, right?"

What followed was pure comedy. Lurie nodded his head, and the two men shared about as awkward a fist-pound as you'll see.

It's times like those I really enjoy being here.

Some other observations from today:

** Remember how L.J. Smith had the L tattoed on the back of his left arm and the J on the right? That style hasn't completely left Lehigh. Joe Mays has Joe on the left and Mays on the right.

** We got a glimpse of what the Eagles' field-goal unit will look like if players 30 and over didn't play in games. Jason Avant holding, and Ken Parrish kicking. Yikes.

** I'll tell you the one under-the-radar rookie who made an impression today: linebacker and seventh-round pick Moise Fokou. He knocked the wind out of Brent Celek on one play.

** I've said it over and over again, but DeSean Jackson has been far and away the best receiver and probably the best player at camp. A few more bombs from Donovan McNabb today. I have a theory on this that I'll share later tonighit or tomorrow.

** Jackson and Samuel go at it all day at practice. Once, when Jackson was out, Samuel found him one-on-one with a charging Leonard Weaver. He kind of just shooed the big fullback to the side, which drew a laugh from Jackson who was looking on.

** Max Jean-Gilles was called for a false start, which prompted Andy Reid to tell him to head to the sidelines. The problem? The player who came in, Mike McGlynn, was called for holding on the ensuing play. And just like that, MJG was back in.

** The one-on-one blocking drills are by far the most fun to watch at camp. Basically a running back or tight end has to pick up a blitzing defensive player. At one point, Chris Gocong got the best of a backup. The next time Gocong was up, Reid stopped and called on Leonard Weaver to give it a shot. Much fairer battle. Weaver has rarely been beaten on blocking assignments this camp, if at all.

** Lurie was talking to Mays on the sidelines during the morning practice. I wonder if Joe was hearing anything other than "cha-ching" in his head. Fill in nicely for Stewart Bradley and who knows what the future holds?

** New LB Matt Wilhelm got some reps with the second team in the middle. Reid said after practice that he'll be given a shot like anyone else, but reading between the lines, it didn't sound like he thought Wilhelm was an option to start there.

“He’ll be given an opportunity like everybody else but I’m comfortable with Omar and Mays until it’s proven different," he said. "I’m also going to say that if the kid comes in here and does a great job, I’m going to play the best guys.”

** I'll be in the studio from 5:30 to 6:30 tonight on 1470 The Fox. Listen online if you want more Eagles talk.

** And we've posted a ton today, including a live chat so click on the blog front to get to all of it. Below is our video report with Les Bowen.