Most days last season, Jeremy Bloom's practices as an Eagle were a lot like his practices as an Olympic skier.
Bloom was accustomed to being isolated while working on his craft.
But after spending his rookie season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, Bloom is excited to be joining teammates in practice again.
The former Colorado wide receiver has been waiting since 2003 to play in a football game.
"That's what I'm most anxious for," said Bloom, who is 5-foot-9, 180 pounds. "You can only tell so much out here [at minicamp]. I'm kind of sick of talking about it. I want to do it and test myself out there."
After being drafted in the fifth round in 2006, Bloom pulled a hamstring muscle in training camp. He tried to rush back from the injury and played in one preseason game, during which he returned two kickoffs for 45 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.
Bloom suffered a setback that landed him on IR for the season. That meant being all alone in the Eagles' indoor facility - "the bubble" - listening to a recording of the playbook on headphones and acting out the plays on the turf.
Bloom said he tried to make the most of the experience - and the Eagles' state-of-the-art facilities - during that time.
"It was disappointing at first," he said. "I went through a 24-hour period where I was really upset I couldn't compete. After that, I realized what the opportunity was. They were allowing me to do everything with the team, study the game, have access to the systems here where we can watch any team, any defense, with just the click of a button.
"It was such a great opportunity to have that year, and I'm pleased with the progression."
With as many receivers as the Eagles have, Bloom's best bet is making it as a special-teams player. The 25-year-old is expected to be a return man, an area where he excelled in college.
In two seasons at Colorado, Bloom posted two punt returns and a kick return of 75 yards or longer. In 25 career games, he caught 24 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns. He added 93 yards on 15 carries.
The Eagles have tried a variety of returners over the last few years, but none has panned out.
In March, the Eagles signed veteran return man Bethel Johnson, but Johnson missed the first off-season minicamp with a stress fracture in his leg.
After playing college football - and being ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of his skiing endorsements - Bloom competed in the Winter Olympics in 2004.
He learned to ski as a small child and has been competing since he was 10, going on to become a two-time Olympian and three-time freestyle world champion.
Bloom became an in-demand celebrity, modeling for Tommy Hilfiger and hosting an MTV show.
Working in the bubble was quite a different experience.
"It's been a great year outside of the hectic media schedule of an Olympic year," he said. "I've been competing in something since I was 10 years old. It's been great to get away from that and maximize myself for training."
Right now, Bloom's Web site has only one thing missing from it. There are videos and photographs of him catching passes with Colorado, running back punts, soaring off moguls on his skis, even shots of him modeling.
There are no images of him making plays in an Eagles uniform. Wanting to change that, he sought advice from an NFL receiver he admires.
When the Carolina Panthers played at Lincoln Financial Field in December, Bloom made it a point to meet Steve Smith by way of an introduction from Eagles running back Reno Mahe.
"He's become a great mentor of mine," Bloom said.
Now Bloom is just waiting to get on the field for more than practice.
"It's been a long time," he said. "At the same time, it's flown by."
Two rookies sign on. The Eagles signed a pair of rookies to four-year contracts yesterday: tight end Brent Celek, a fifth-round draft pick out of Cincinnati, and cornerback Rashad Barksdale, a sixth-round pick out of Albany.
In his Bearcats career, Celek caught 91 passes for 1,135 yards and 14 touchdowns. Barksdale, a baseball player at Albany, played only one football season there after making the team as a walk-on.
Contact staff writer Shannon Ryan at 215-854-5503 or firstname.lastname@example.org.