Where is the Big Kid?
The biggest of all problems at the moment is the mysterious absence of two-time Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews. Andrews has not reported to Lehigh up to this point, and it is unclear how much longer he will be out, due to what the team is calling a "personal situation." It is unlikely that the Eagles first-round pick in the 2004 draft is holding out because of an issue with his contract, because doing so would cost him about $15,000 a day, and he also just signed a seven-year contract extension with the team in 2006. The fact that the team is so focused on keeping the issue private right now and that they will not even say if they are fining him for missing practice are good indications that the situation might not even be related to football.
Andrews' agent, Rich Moran, met with his client over the weekend, but he declined to elaborate on the meeting or the situation, and he could not say if Andrews would be in camp soon.
Third-year guard Max Jean-Gilles has filled in on the right side with the first-team offense in practice, and although he is a promising young player, Andrews' presence will be sorely missed if this situation continues to linger.
Samuel on the Mend
While people continue to speculate about why Andrews is not in camp, Asante Samuel is not on the practice field because of what the team is calling a mild hamstring strain. The Eagles' prize of the free agent crop, Samuel was hurt during a 7-on-7 drill in the first full-pad practice on Saturday.
This injury comes only about a month after he suffered a similar ailment in one the team's preseason mini-camps, but defensive coordinator Jim Johnson sounded confident about Samuel's understanding of the Eagles' scheme.
"Of course you're concerned about anybody getting an injury," Johnson said. "He's staying in the meetings and from what I saw this camp, earlier, before he got injured, I saw him really learn the defense. I think he's comfortable with the defense."
Even if he is doing a good job of integrating with Philadelphia's defense, the Eagles did not sign Samuel to a six-year, $57 million contract to watch him learn from the sidelines. The team is expecting big things from the ex-Patriot, who recorded 16 interception over the last two years, and the sooner he is back on the field, the sooner the Eagle's organization can relax a little about their investment.
Lito Sheppard, who is filling in for Samuel at the left cornerback spot, is still unhappy about his contract situation, but he has not reached the point of a hold out. Sheppard's all-too-familiar new agent, Drew Rosenhaus paid a visit to the Eagles training camp to meet with Reid and team president Joe Banner, and Reid said that the meeting was positive.
"They were able to express their feelings and we were able to do the same," Reid said. "It was good, open communication."
Banner made things more clear, saying that the team was not changing its stance about trading Sheppard or redoing his contract.
Brian Westbrook is also in a contract dispute with the Eagles, and he said that he has not held out of camp up to this point because he is "optimistic" that the two sides can work something out.
Westbrook recently hired a new agent, Todd France, to work out a deal with the team.
"I'm trying to get my agent the opportunity to talk to Joe and try to work things out, and hopefully that happens soon," Westbrook said. "I'm optimistic. I'm here. If I wasn't optimistic, I wouldn't have come. But I was optimistic that things will get worked out, and hopefully they will."
After leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage last season, the former Villanova star feels he should be paid like the top running back in the NFL. Team officials don't exactly disagree with this notion, but they have little cap room to work with and with Westbrook turning 29 this season, the Eagles might be hesitant to give him an extension with a lot of bonus money.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at email@example.com