Injuries provide an opportunity
BETHLEHEM As the injuries continue to pile up for the Philadelphia Eagles at Lehigh University, there are some positives to consider it gives other players a chance to step and step up.
On Thursday morning, before the Flight Night practice at Lincoln Financial Field Thursday night, wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson, along with running back Mike Bell, weren't running plays with the rest of the team. Jackson and Bell were doing light workouts on the side, while Maclin was running indoors, according to head coach Andy Reid.
Meanwhile, the door was wide open for rookie fifth-round pick out of Floriday, Riley Cooper, who is already becoming a fan favorite at camp, catching everything thrown his way.
"Riley was one of those guys that we really liked going into the draft and then we got to a point where we're going, 'I can't believe he's here on the board,'" Reid said Thursday morning. "So, he was the best player on the board, in our opinion at that particular time for how we had it stacked, so Howie (Roseman) and I made the decision to take him and he's come out here and played very well."
Cooper should make the team as a fourth or fifth receiver behind Jackson, Maclin, Jason Avant and possibly Hank Baskett. While he's opening eyes, rookies rarely make a huge impact at the position, DeSean Jackson aside, but Reid sees all the skills Cooper possesses.
"Now, we expected him to do [come out and play well]," Reid said. "I wouldn't say by draft round, that shows that, but we expected him to be very effective in the National Football League. He's big, fast and strong, strong with the ball and he has a pretty good feel for the game."
Free agent wideout from Baltimore Kelley Washington, as well as rookie Chad Hall, were also getting wide receiver reps with the first team. Washington will most likely have to battle Baskett for a spot on the team, and that means excelling at not only the receiver position, but also special teams.
"The more you can do," Washington said. "Playing receiver is good, but when you can play special teams, as well as receiver, it's just the more you can do. I understand that and that's how it's going to be for the rest of my career. I like that role."
Taking snaps at running back for Bell were newly acquired J.J. Arrington, rookie free agent Martell Mallett and Eldra Buckley, who made the team last year after being released by San Diego. But when all is said and done, Reid is hoping to have his whole first team back, and it looks like it could be sooner rather than later.
"DeSean Jackson and Asante [Samuel], you saw them out running [Thursday], so they'll continue on with that," Reid said. "I don't think they're too far away here. Jeremy Maclin actually feels pretty good. He's feeling remarkably well. Just keeping tabs on him here and see how he does. I don't think it will be very long. Mike Bell is getting better."
"I'm blessed and I'm thankful that it didn't turn out as bad as it could have," Maclin said Thursday. "I'm happy. It is what it is. I wish I was out there competing, but now I can get better and get out there as soon as I can."
NEST NOTES ... Quarterback Kevin Kolb continued to look sharp in drills, so far showing that his dubbing of being a more accurate passer is true ... Kolb, while the second and third teams were running live, could be seen throwing passes on the side to Avant and tight end Brent Celek ... Michael Vick, who fumbled a snap and threw an interception, took second team snaps while Mike Kafka, a rookie out of Northwestern, ran the third team ... After Thursday night's Flight Night in Philly, the team was back at Lehigh Friday afternoon before resuming a normal two-a-day schedule ... Hall, a rookie out of Air Force listed at just 5-8, could at least make the practice squad because of his punt returning skills ... It was funny to watch some of the linemen do a drill on a side field where they caught punts from a machine.