THIS COMING WEEK will be different for the Eagles' rookies.
They'll still be running around in short pants and helmets on the NovaCare fields, they'll still be more than 6 weeks away from reporting to training camp. But when the veterans arrive and "organized team activity" resumes on Tuesday, the pace picks up.
"It's going to shoot up high," second-round rookie wideout DeSean Jackson said yesterday, as the Birds' rookies and select vets wrapped up 2 weeks of slower-paced learning. "I feel like I just have to stick my nose in the playbook, and I'll be all right."
The other second-round rookie, defensive tackle Trevor Laws, said the rookie sessions made him much more confident in his grasp of the Eagles' defense.
"I know 10 times as much, probably" as he did coming out of the first, full-team minicamp, Laws said. "I haven't messed up one time on the field yet, mentally. Physically, plenty of times."
Laws said defensive line coach Pete Jenkins is teaching him more of an aggressive, one-gap technique, rather than the read-and-react, two-gap technique favored by Notre Dame.
Fourth-round rookie safety Quintin Demps, who yesterday became the first of the Eagles' 10 draftees to sign, agreeing to a 4-year contract, acknowledged he was struggling to learn the defense, even at rookie camp pace.
"Ain't nothing slow about the league, man," Demps said. "Everything's fast. You've got to be full-speed, everything you do, mentally and physically."
Lorenzo Booker isn't a rookie - he's the second-year running back the Eagles acquired from Miami on draft day. Booker has been in rookie camp, though, learning the West Coast offense. In fact, he stayed around NovaCare between minicamps, hoping to jump-start the process.
Booker said the slower pace "has allowed me to kind of spoon-feed myself - I'm not being overwhelmed."
Fourth-round rookie guard and center Mike McGlynn said the toughest thing has been learning the blocking calls the center has to make. He looks forward to seeing how the veterans do it, but he doesn't expect a lot of tutoring from, say, starting center Jamaal Jackson.
"You're looking for somebody's job, they want to play as much as you want to play," McGlynn said. "They want to feed their family as much as you want to feed your family."
Sixth-round rookie Andy Studebaker was a defensive end at tiny Wheaton College who has been learning to be a linebacker for the Eagles. Obviously, this has been a valuable time for him.
"I think I'm a little more comfortable dropping into zones," Studebaker said. "I'm not perfect at it yet. But I kind of know what I'm looking for now, a little more . . . overall comfort with the language of the defense [is better]. Now, when they make checks, I at least know what they mean. So that's nice.
"When the veterans come back, there's going to be less reps. When you get out there, you've got to do it right, show them you've learned over the last few weeks. I don't think they'll expect perfection out of everybody, but they're going to expect close, I think."
Roseman replaces Licht
The Eagles still haven't announced the departure of player personnel vice president Jason Licht, but they gave his title away yesterday to Howie Roseman, the team's former vice president of football administration.
As the Daily News reported last week, a bitter falling-out with Roseman is believed to have led to Licht's dismissal.
Yesterday's move is interesting for several reasons.
Roseman, originally team president Joe Banner's protégé, is taking a scouting job, without a lot of scouting in his background. Licht was perceived to be close to general manager Tom Heckert, who hired him from the Patriots in 2003. Meanwhile, Eagles pro personnel director Scott Cohen, who also works for Heckert, is leaving the Eagles for an assistant GM job with the New York Jets.
Those moves would seem to further speculation that arose when the Eagles more or less openly encouraged Heckert to apply for the GM's job in Atlanta last January, a post he did not get. The media perception that Heckert might no longer be an ascending star in the organization might have led to yesterday's other announcement, that the team has extended Heckert's contract to 2011.
The Eagles declined to make Roseman, Heckert or head coach Andy Reid, who has final say in personnel matters, available to reporters, rather issuing a statement from Reid.
"I feel we have strengthened our personnel staff today by extending Tom's contract and by promoting Howie Roseman," Reid said. "Tom's leadership and work ethic has continued to impress me over the years. Tom has also done a great job of nurturing and incorporating Howie's talent into the personnel side of the organization. Howie has demonstrated a sharp eye for talent evaluation along with a knack for creative draft and free agent strategies. Both Tom and I feel Howie will be an excellent addition to the Philadelphia Eagles personnel staff."
Roseman, 33, joined the team in 2000 as salary cap/staff counsel. He became director of football administration in 2003 and vice president of football administration in 2006.
Licht, 37, first worked with Heckert in 1995-96 in Miami. When the Trenton Times broke the story that he was leaving, speculation held that the team was holding off announcing his departure until he had another job. So far, that hasn't happened.
Cohen, 39, is a Philadelphia native who grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J. He handled much of the team's advance scouting. *