There’s no question Andy Reid’s return to training camp inspired the players. “I continue to learn more and more about him every day,” said safety Kurt Coleman. “His character is so strong.”
Reid’s return Wednesday also settled the uncertainty of whether he’d be leading the team tomorrow against Pittsburgh. And that shift has allowed the players to focus on the game.
“Playing a game is something big,” said LeSean McCoy, “but playing for [Reid] and his family actually motivates us a little bit more.”
Eagles like McCoy and Coleman can recall last year’s preseason game against Pittsburgh and don’t want to see a repeat. The Steelers’ first-team offense ran over the Eagles, collecting 71 yards on 14 carries in the game’s first two drives. Pittsburgh raced to a 21-0 halftime lead en route to a 24-14 win.
“It’s a totally different mind-set this year,” said Coleman. “Our focus is top-notch.”
Newcomer DeMeco Ryans is eager for his first game action as an Eagle. “I’m excited to step into the Linc for the first time to see the fans, the atmosphere, everything,” he said. “When the lights are on, that’s when you can really cut it loose as a player and have fun.”
Another new face, rookie Fletcher Cox, is glad to have new bodies to battle after weeks of training camp practice.
“It’s always exciting not to go against your own teammates,” Cox said. “We’re just going to go out and really compete.”
Though it’s only the first preseason game, McCoy says the team is determined to work on improving last season’s weaknesses.
“We need to convert on third down, look sharp, pick up blitzes,” McCoy said. “Those are the biggest things. Keeping turnovers down, that’s something we struggled with last year so we’re looking forward to taking care of that this year.”
For rookie quarterback Nick Foles, last season as a star at Arizona is a world away from where he is now as third-teamer with the Eagles. And, he says, where he is now is far from where he was even at the beginning of training camp.
Each of the four quarterbacks will play a quarter, with Michael Vick in the first, Mike Kafka in the second, Foles in the third and Trent Edwards in the fourth. Foles is confident he’s ready.
“Every day I’m picking up more and more and understanding what the coaches want,” Foles said. “I definitely feel I’ve learned a lot in training camp.”