BETHLEHEM -- DeSean Jackson is the fastest Eagle, so it was appropriate that he was in the group that led the charge off the field at Lehigh for the last time today, as the Birds prepared to head home.
"Bye, bye, Lehigh," Jackson said, running past a gaggle of reporters en route to the field house.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said the extra-long stay was needed, given the youth of the team, which in cludes 13 drafted rookies, who reported back on July 26, and a new starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb. Reid said the Eagles logged about 200 more plays than last year at Lehigh, partly because the weather was better, and they hit more than usual.
Reid said the hard work "builds a foundation, particularly with a young group. They need to be introduced to what the National Football League is all about."
Reid said he was "impressed with the energy and work level." As he spoke, in a tent outside the field house, a player was yelling "Whooooo!!!" on his way insde.
"They're an energetic bunch," Reid said, not missing a beat.
Reid said Kolb will play the first half Friday night at Cincinnati. Michael Vick will take the third quarter and Mike Kafka the fourth. Reid said the starters on offense and defense will play about as much as Kolb.
Not participating will be left guard Todd Herremans, still working back in from foot problems, corner David Pender, who is ill, center Nick Cole (knee), center Jamaal Jackson (knee) and of course, defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who is on the physically unable to perform list as he comes back from microfracture surgery.
Reid said corner Asante Samuel, who did not practice today because of a hamstring problem, is questionable.
Running back Mike Bell (calf) practiced today but also is questionable for Friday, Reid said.
Observers were relieved to find that corner Ellis Hobbs appearently has recovered from his bout with "bad cereal."
The team is expected to return to Lehigh for camp in 2011, general manager Howie Roseman told the Daily News. Of course, the NFL labor situation could interfere with that.
The Eagles have been at Lehigh each summer since 1996. The team trained at West Chester from 1980-1995, Widener from 1973-79 and also trained at Hershey in the 1950s and '60s.