After making tough cuts and a couple of trades over the weekend, Andy Reid is ready for the regular season. Reid truly hates letting players go, especially guys who have helped the team in the past. "It's a little bit of a rough time of the year when you go through the last couple of days. We had to release some players we respect and have done a great job here," said Reid.
So, what about the regular season? It all starts with the %%MATCH_10%% , who Reid thinks are vastly improved. "We have had a chance to look at a lot of film on them and they're a very aggressive football team, offensively, defensively and special teams," remarked Reid. "They've got a new coaching staff in there. They got the first pick of the draft in there [DE Mario Williams and they were 3-1 in the preseason, and they play very good football. So, it will be a big challenge for us and we look forward to going down there and playing against a good football team."
Williams was somewhat of a controversial pick as the number one choice in the draft over %%MATCH_6%% but fans in %%MATCH_11%% are beginning to think that the team might have gone in the right direction. Reid has seen film on Williams and realizes that he won't be easy to handle. "I think he's a heck of a player. He's able to play both outside and inside and they've moved him all over. They can move him to the right side, the left side, both defensive ends and both defensive tackle positions. So, he's a big, powerful guy that has a lot of athletic ability and I have to believe they're happy with what they've seen. I think he's done a fine job for them there."
Reid also thinks that the fact the Texans have a new coaching staff only adds to the challenge of playing them in Week One. "You do what you do. You study the film that you have. Again, they're a new staff, so anything's possible. But, you gameplan for what you've seen and some things you anticipate."
As for his team, Reid thinks that the Eagles are ready and are pretty healthy, although %%MATCH_9%% didn't practice on Monday. "We'll see how he does come Wednesday. If we can get him out there to do a little work, we'll do that." If Mahe can't start, Lito Shappard and Brian Westbrook would be options to return punts in Mahe's absence. The Eagles had Jerome McDougle and %%MATCH_5%% back on the practice field on Monday. Westbrook seems pretty healthy and Reid says that the Eagles won't baby him. "Yeah, he's getting there. I'm not going to get into all of the percentages, but he's getting in there and he's feeling more comfortable. I think he's ready to go and I'm not too worried about that," said Reid. "To make the decision that we made with keeping him, I think you've got to go in with that [mindset], just saying, 'Hey, he's healed up and he's ready to go, and it's time to play.' So, that's how we're going to approach it. I'm going to put him in every situation we would have put him in whether he would have been hurt or not hurt. That's not going to change our approach for the gameplan."
Reid said that Donte Stallworth recently acquired from New Orleans, has been picking up the offense well and will start Sunday in Houston.
What else Andy Reid had to say...
On the fact that the team is 2-5 in season openers since his time here and if they are doing anything differently to prevent a slow start:
"No, not necessarily. We prepare like we always prepare and we're not going to change anything."
On his expectations of the evolution of the Eagles wide receiving corps:
"It's a young group that we feel catches the ball very well and they run routes very well. We obviously look forward to getting them in there. I think, especially from the younger guys, you'll see constant improvement all the way through the season. We're fortunate to have a couple of veteran players thrown in there, one of which is new [WR Donte Stallworth], but somewhat familiar with the offense. He's been spending double time here the last few days getting everything down, so I think he'll be fine in there."
On whether the #4 and #5 receivers will play more of a role in this offense than they have in past offenses:
"Normally the guys that are active play and have a chance to contribute. Normally that third and fourth guy are at different positions. They move around a little bit, so we'll keep that same philosophy. The guys that are dressed there, whether it's four or five, are all going to have an opportunity to play and contribute."
On whether it's important for the younger receivers to get time in early so they can gain momentum for the latter part of the season:
"The bottom line is there are going to be some young guys that play. That's just what's on the roster and obviously we feel very good about them. The important thing is that they continue to improve and then what you're saying is, 'Down the road they'll be better.' Yeah, they will be. They're going to have an opportunity to get in there and do what they've been doing. They've been running good routes and they've been catching the football and that's what we need."
On whether Stallworth is going to start and what his learning curve is:
"Stallworth will start at the X position and he's been picking it up fine. It's a crash course. Now, I think I mentioned this before, there's a positive with starting the season. The gameplan is cut down, so he doesn't need to know every route that we were running during training camp. We can narrow it down a bit for each game and kind of pick and choose what we put in during camp."
On whether Stallworth will be in more packages later on in the season than now:
"We're going to throw him in there and let him go. He'll be in all the different packages and we expect him to learn it and go forward. Now, he has had most of the routes that we run and he has heard the terminology before, so it's not completely foreign to him."
On whether he's confident that these are the 53 guys they will have for the rest of the week:
"This is an unsettled time. It always is, the first couple of weeks. So, I can't sit up here and tell you that things won't change, but right now I'm happy with the guys I have. I'd be foolish to sit up here and say that something couldn't happen."
On whether he has faith in his rookie offensive linemen as backups, especially C %%MATCH_8%% and T Pat McCoy, from what he saw in the preseason:
"That's what you base it on. We saw improvement there and we switched a couple of guys from their college positions and asked them to learn new positions. The two you mentioned, [McCoy] went from left tackle to right tackle, and [Cole] went from guard to center. So, they came out and did a nice job and we have confidence that if there is an injury they can step in play. That's something they built through their consistent play."
On his impressions of Texans RB %%MATCH_7%%:
"He's a local guy from this area. We had a chance
to meet him before the draft. He came by and said hello and he seems like a heck
of a player. I know he's a really good player, a very versatile player from
On what RB Correll Buckhalter's role will be:
"He'll work into the game and play. He'll be in
there working with [RB] Brian [Westbrook]. On certain plays he'll have an
opportunity to get in there and spot Brian, so that's why we kept him here. We
felt coming out of the
On the fact that the Eagles could be flying under the radar with low expectations from national media:
"To be honest with you, when there were the high expectations, I looked at it the same way as I'm looking at it now. I don't get too far out of the box. I understand that you have to take it one game at a time, one play at a time, and I focus in on that, as redundant as that is. I try not to listen to too many things or read into too many things outside of that that's going to disrupt us and our philosophy there. So, I haven't changed. I don't care if they have us first or last. It doesn't matter. We're going to go play our hardest and our best."
On the fact that he used Nick Cole as a blocking back in a goal line situation in the Jets game and whether players like the new wrinkles the coaching staff throws into the offensive and defensive schemes:
"We feel comfortable with it. Nick, we had been working in there with that. I had talked to [assistant head coach/offensive coordinator] Marty [Mornhinweg] about doing something like that well before when we were at Lehigh. To be honest with you, I hesitated putting him in there and doing a live period with him because I didn't want one of our guys getting smacked up like what happened the other night. And so, we held off on the live periods with him back there, but he's a pretty explosive guy and he's not too far off the ground and he can run a little bit."
On whether there is a value for veterans in putting new wrinkles into the offensive and defensive schemes:
"They feed off of that. Anytime you put a big guy back there or you throw a big guy a ball, it's pretty simple. Everybody gets excited. But, he has to do it well also and Nick has a little ability in there. So yeah, that's a good thing. The dime package [we did new things with], that's a good thing. We moved [FS %%MATCH_4%%] inside, which he hadn't been since we'd been here, and he's done a nice job of that. I think he's excited about that."