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Eagles happy to be back at Lehigh

Published July 27. 2011 05:02PM

Now that the NFL lockout is over, teams are now able to function as normal in preparation for the upcoming 2011 NFL season.

Training camps are just around the corner, and the Philadelphia Eagles will report to Lehigh University for their 16th straight training camp.

Eagles Chief Operating Officer Don Smolenski announced at a press conference on Tuesday at Starters Bar and Grille, that the team will report to Lehigh on Wednesday afternoon, and the first practice open to the public will be held on Saturday, July 30, at 8:15 a.m.

"We're very pleased to be back at Lehigh University for our 16th training camp ," said Smolenski. "We were always hopeful that we would be able to come to Lehigh.

"We thought it would be appropriate to come up here today [Tuesday] and start it and kind of kick things off. We're excited. We can't wait to get up here."

Smolenski was accompanied by Joe Sterrett, the Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics at Lehigh University and John Callahan, Mayor of Bethlehem.

The Eagles have been attending training camp at Lehigh University since 1996 and Mayor Callahan spoke of the excitement of having the Birds back in the Bethlehem area for another training camp session.

"We're very proud to be the host community and the home to the Eagles preseason camp," said Callahan. "It's probably one of the most successful, if not the most successful preseason camp in all the NFL.

Callahan went on to speak of the economic impacts the area will benefit from with the Eagles calling Lehigh University home for the next two and a half weeks.

Restaurants, bars and shops will all benefit from the training camp at Lehigh, which is just a few miles from downtown Bethlehem.

Callahan mentioned the Sands Casino that was recently constructed as well as Bethlehem's annual Musikfest festival that is held around the beginning of August.

"And Musikfest is going on in Bethlehem as well over that same period of time. I think as people experience camp over and over they're beginning to realize that there is certainly a couple days worth of things to do while you're here."

"I can't thank Lehigh enough for working behind the scenes and making sure they could pull this off in such short order because time is certainly of the essence," said Callahan.

In making the decision of Lehigh over the NovaCare Complex for their site of training camp this season, Smolenski talked of the decision of joining Lehigh rather than staying in Philadelphia.

"Coach [Reid], this is his 13th season [and] he likes coming up here," said Smolenski. "He likes the experience with the fans and he also enjoys the camaraderie amongst the players and the staff."

Mayor Callahan added, "In part of the decision to come to camp rather than the NovaCare Center, was that the NovaCare Center doesn't allow fans."

"I would say that this summer has been a great lesson in the importance of quality relationships in degrees of uncertainty and stress and that lies well beyond the effects of football and training camp," said Sterrett.

Sterret went on to state, "When things get difficult or unknown it's really important to lean on the quality of relationships that you have and the trust that has been built over a period of time. I'm really pleased that this relationship has reached that point."

As a part of the new collective bargaining agreement, teams can no longer hold two full-contact practices in a day. Only one of the sessions can include full contact, while the other must be a walk-through session without helmets.

The Eagles will have their first practice on Saturday with sessions at 8:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. and the rest of the scheduled practices will be posted on the Philadelphia Eagles official website.

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