Just call him an Eagle
Wide receiver Bam Childress has a moniker a coach can remember.
A few times yesterday at the NovaCare Complex, David Culley, the Eagles' wide-receivers coach, didn't see precisely what he wanted.
Sometimes a cut wasn't crisp enough. Sometimes a player's eyes weren't turned back on the ball. Sometimes one of the men in Culley's charge - a youthful stable of aspiring Eagles receivers - just didn't sell the pattern.
Culley would step forward to speak. But sometimes, the name of the man beneath the helmet would elude him.
Such is life at the Eagles' minicamp for rookies and selected veterans: make a name for yourself or pack your bags.
While wide receiver Bam Childress is still trying to prove he belongs, the one thing he doesn't worry about is Culley forgetting his name.
"I think Bam is his favorite word," Childress said.
When Culley demonstrates how to run a route, he'll tell the guys to plant their outside foot and - Bam! - change direction. He'll show them at what point to bring their eyes back to the ball and - Bam! - their hands up.
"I always think he's talking to me," Childress said, "but he's just explaining something."
Childress, whose given name is Brandon, earned the nickname "Bam" from his parents because of his knack for misbehaving after episodes of The Flintstones.
The Eagles signed the speedy 5-foot-10 Childress to a two-year contract on Feb. 22. Childress, who is listed as a wide receiver but has also played cornerback, spent his first three seasons with New England. He was undrafted out of Ohio State, and the Patriots signed him as a rookie free agent in 2005.
He spent the majority of his first two seasons and the entire 2007 season on the Patriots' practice squad.
Each NFL team is allowed eight practice players. Those players don't count against the 53-man roster and earn a minimum of $4,200 a week for 17 weeks. Any team in the league can - based on need and injuries throughout a season - sign to its 53-man roster a practice player from any other team.
Players are eligible as practice players for only three seasons.
Wide receiver Michael Gasperson spent the last three seasons on the Eagles' practice squad. If he doesn't make the Eagles' or any other team's 53-man roster, he cannot be a practice player.
"You're a part of the team, but you just don't travel," Gasperson said. "You're not playing on Sundays. Basically, during the week you're just running all the scout-team plays."
"It's tough not having stability," Gasperson added. "At any time you could get picked up by any team. That's the interesting thing about it."
Childress said his time in New England was a great learning experience, but he is more interested in making plays on Sunday.
"I could have came back to the Patriots right after the Super Bowl, but my agent was telling me a couple teams were interested," Childress said.
Childress asked, "Who's the most interested?"
"He told me the Eagles were the most interested, that they wanted me to play in the slot, make plays," Childress said.
After going back and forth between returning to the Patriots or taking a shot with the Eagles, Childress said he believed his best chance to make a roster was in Philadelphia.
In the first of the three NFL games in which he has appeared, on Jan. 1, 2006, against the Miami Dolphins, Childress had three receptions as a wide receiver and five tackles as a cornerback. He became the first player since Deion Sanders to record that many catches and tackles in the same game.
Childress said he hoped that versatility would help him snag a spot with the Eagles.
"The thing that I liked the most was [the Eagles] were saying I could play anywhere: inside, outside, return man," Childress said. "I don't want to just play one position. I want to play everywhere: return man, in the slot - wherever - offense, defense. It doesn't matter."
At the end of yesterday's session, Childress snagged a few booming end-over-end kickoffs as the Eagles practiced special teams. Thirty minutes later, he stood in front of his locker, at the top of which was his nameplate. It read, Brandon Childress.
When asked why it didn't say Bam, Childress laughed.
"I don't know," he said. "I'm going to get them for that one."
Sampy has surgery. Wide receiver Bill Sampy, who fractured and dislocated his left ankle during Tuesday's practice, underwent successful surgery yesterday, the team said. The surgery was performed by Steve Raikin, a specialist at the Rothman Institute at Jefferson Hospital. Sampy spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons on the Eagles' practice squad. The Eagles re-signed Sampy on Jan. 2.