Eagles eager to start two-a-days in July
Michael Vick has something to prove. So does Andy Reid.
These Philadelphia Eagles aren't the talk of the NFL the way they were last summer. After failing miserably to live up to enormous expectations and their own ''Dream Team'' label, the Eagles know they have to earn respect.
The team completed its three-day minicamp Thursday and anxiously awaits the start of training camp next month.
Momentum from that four-game winning streak to close out last season at 8-8 seems to have carried over into all the offseason workouts. Players and coaches are all optimistic they've got the right group to make a Super Bowl run.
Time will tell.
''I love the energy and mindset right now,'' Reid said. ''For nine weeks, these guys have been coming in here and grinding it. I want that to carry over to training camp. This is going to be a tough training camp for them. I've talked to the team about that. It's going to be a demanding training camp, and from now until we get up there, they need to keep themselves in the shape that they're in right now.''
Reid enters his 14th season as head coach. He's led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. But he's under the microscope more than ever. Two days after last season ended, owner Jeffrey Lurie admitted he gave serious thought to firing Reid before explaining in detail his reasons for retaining him.
That means Reid has to win now or else. The pressure doesn't appear to bother him. He was in a friendlier mood this week, smiling more often and even joking around with reporters.
''I always have fun. I don't always show you that I'm having fun, but I'm having fun,'' Reid said. ''I love every day that I have a chance to do this, even this right here (with the media). I'm enjoying the personality of this team right now and I like how they've approached things. We have a ton to work on.''
Some insiders say the departure of Joe Banner, who stepped down as president last week, has contributed significantly to Reid's pleasant demeanor. Though Lurie insisted that Banner, his longtime close friend, chose to leave to pursue other opportunities, speculation about a power struggle with Reid persisted.
Regardless, Reid and the Eagles have to win now, especially after the 4-8 start last year.
''I think we've been so close to having a lot of success,'' wide receiver DeSean Jackson said. ''I think it's at our fingertips now. We just want to all be able to start early, not even just right now, but before when we came here in April and May, training down to June. You don't win Super Bowls in February, you win them in the offseason and that's something we're realizing and that we know.
''So, we're all just putting in the work.''
Vick is coming off a subpar year after going to the Pro Bowl in 2010. The dynamic quarterback ranked 70th in the NFL Network's Top 100 players list, and he noticed.
''I'm going to prove myself and get myself back in the top 20 next year,'' he said. ''Obviously, I pay attention to it, but I'm a competitor. I feel like I'm one of the best at what I do. It's somebody else's opinion, and I have to prove them wrong and make them say otherwise.''
Rob Maaddi can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/RobMaaddi