Watching the Eagles fly at practice

Sports ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone of­fers a few thoughts on his ex­per­i­ence at Eagles Train­ing Camp at Le­high Uni­versity in Beth­le­hem.

Wide re­ciev­er Mar­vin McNutt at the Eagles Train­ing Camp at Le­high Uni­versity, Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 1, 2012, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Five thoughts from be­ing up-close and per­son­al at Eagles train­ing camp:

1) Des­pite early in­jur­ies to the de­fens­ive line, the Eagles’ front sev­en looks vastly im­proved from a year ago. With new ac­quis­i­tion De­Meco Ry­ans en­trenched at middle line­back­er and first-round pick Fletch­er Cox join­ing Jason Babin and Trent Cole on the D-line, the Birds should be much bet­ter on de­fense in 2012. 

2) With a hefty long-term con­tract ex­ten­sion signed, De­Sean Jack­son looks like a new man com­pared to a year ago. Look­ing loose and happy in­stead of dis­gruntled, Jack­son ap­pears poised to re­turn to be­ing the big threat Eagles fans be­came ac­cus­tomed to in his first two years in the league.

3) Quar­ter­back Mi­chael Vick looks to be in the best shape of his ca­reer, phys­ic­ally and men­tally. The new­ly­wed sig­nal-caller is hop­ing to bounce back from a poor 2011 sea­son that fea­tured too many crit­ic­al turnovers. Eagles fans should ex­pect to see the Vick they hoped they were get­ting when he signed a $100 mil­lion con­tract ex­ten­sion be­fore last sea­son.

4) The biggest con­cern for the Eagles and their fans is pro­tect­ing Vick, who is prone to pun­ish­ing hits when he takes off down­field. A stout, vaunted of­fens­ive line will provide plenty of pro­tec­tion, even without star left guard Jason Peters, who will miss the sea­son with a torn Achilles. Todd Her­re­mans is a rock, Evan Math­is and Danny Watkins should be much bet­ter in year two with the Birds, and Jason Kelce is already one of the best cen­ters in the league after his rook­ie sea­son. But ser­i­ously, Jason, what’s with that crazy beard? Kelce hasn’t shaved since Feb­ru­ary and vows to keep it that way un­til the sea­son ends…hope­fully in Feb­ru­ary.

5) This team is not a le­git­im­ate Su­per Bowl threat…yet. All of last year’s hype ended in dis­ap­point­ment, something the team seems to want to avoid by keep­ing a lower pro­file this sum­mer. In prac­tice, they look to be among the best in the NFC. On the field? We’ll soon find out. ••

Sports ed­it­or Ed Mor­rone can be reached at 215-354-3035 or em­or­

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