Eagles spend their last locked-out days in gym
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP)
Clay Harbor finished a grueling leg workout and headed out to catch some passes in triple-digit temperatures.
He wasn't alone.
As the end of the NFL lockout seemingly draws near, several members of the Philadelphia Eagles spent their last days of pre-training camp freedom doing the same thing they did most of the summer. They worked out at Power Train Institute.
Harbor, a second-year tight end, was among a large group of players who worked with training guru Steve Saunders the past few months. Saunders said he's trained about 35 Eagles during this unusual offseason in which players haven't been able to use their team's facilities.
When the league finally resumes and camps open, the defending NFC East champions may not be too far behind their normal pace.
''It's been a really good group,'' Saunders said. ''It's a testament to the Eagles guys how many have stayed around and worked hard. These guys talk about going to a Super Bowl. The work they put in without coaches' supervision speaks to that. Nobody would know if they took off the whole offseason but these guys were in here working hard.''
Other players may have spent most of their free time relaxing at a tropical resort, playing golf or enjoying various activities.
Not Harbor. Not many of his teammates.
''Some people might take it as extra vacation, but I saw it as a chance to improve and bring myself up from where I was and get to a higher level,'' Harbor said. ''I tried to work hard physically and mentally and I feel I'm in the best shape of my life and that's without offseason camps.''
Several Eagles can make similar statements.
''I'm super impressed with Jamar Chaney,'' Saunders said. ''That guy has been in here every day busting his tail. He's a big, strong, fast cat. I motivate him every day saying (Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker) James Harrison does this better or works this harder and Jamar wants to be that guy.
''Trevor Laws is another one. He's a big, strong freak right now. Jamaal Jackson is another. He's in the best shape I've seen him in three years. He hasn't missed anything and it would be easy for him to punch it in at his age but he's been here every day.''
Veterans David Akers, Todd Herremans, Brent Celek, Winston Justice and Victor Abiamiri were among the regulars at Power Train this summer. Even Michael Vick tried it out. So did rookie Danny Watkins, a first-round pick who is projected to start on the offensive line.
''He's a hard-working, good kid,'' Saunders said. ''I can really see him fitting in with those guys.''
Watkins is eager to get to camp. He had a late start on football, and, at age 26, became the oldest player selected in the first round since 1980.
''I want to contribute right away,'' he said. ''The second that phone rings, I'm going to be driving down to that facility and getting rolling.''
The Eagles, who lost in the NFC playoffs at home to eventual Super Bowl-champion Green Bay in the wild-card round, have high expectations this season. The extra work they put in at the gym in the summer could pay off in January.
''Everyone is giving 110 percent and everyone knows what we have at stake this year,'' tackle Austin Howard said. ''We want to win the Super Bowl and everybody realizes that and is out there working hard to make sure we have a good season.''