Eagles training camp starts Tuesday.
OK, technically camp began last Wednesday, and the Eagles have practiced five times since then. But in a way, those don’t count.
Because on Tuesday the pads go on. And everything changes.
This first week of camp, some players have looked good and some haven’t looked so good, but one universal truth about the NFL is that coaches never start making real judgments and drawing real conclusions until players are fully padded, practice includes live full-contact periods and the hitting begins.
That’s when you start to find out who wants to play football.
“We get to do a little bit of hitting without pads, but it just gets one step more physical with the pads,” Dallas Goedert said. “So (we’ll see) where everybody is at when we put pads on because it turns into a little bit different kind of game.”
Trainings camps have changed a tremendous amount over the years.
In the 1980s, camp was 6 ½ weeks long, there were two padded practices a day, practices could go on for three hours and there were no league-mandated days off.
As recently as 2001, Andy Reid opened camp with three straight days of double sessions that were both fully padded with several live full-contact periods.
True two-a-days were abolished the next summer following the death of 27-year-old Korey Stringer from heat stroke at Vikings camp in Mankato, Minn.
After that, the afternoon practices became either walkthroughs or special teams sessions. Eventually, they were limited to only walkthroughs with no pads, shells or helmets.
These days, everything is regulated by the CBA, and the rules now prohibit teams from practicing in pads for the first five days of training camp. After that acclimation period and after a mandated day off – for the Eagles that was Sunday – teams can practice in full pads for three straight days, but that stretch must be followed by at least three unpadded days.
Based on their schedule and their days off, the maximum number of padded practices the Eagles will be able to hold at camp this summer is nine.
All padded practices are capped at 2 ½ hours and including an afternoon walkthrough teams can’t be on the field more than four hours a day. Violating any of these rules could result in hefty fines or even in the loss of draft picks.
But there is still room in the NFL for hitting, and for the Eagles it begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
“Can’t wait to get the pads on,” Jordan Mailata said. “Sick of the defense pulling our jerseys trying to throw us out of the park like they’re wrestlers. It’s crazy. I feel like at the end of every session my shirt’s ripped or something because of all the jersey grabbing. I’m kind of sick of that and over it. When it’s time to put the pads on it will be a nice battle between the offense and defense.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: