Amid the fuss over whether Lito Sheppard, the once and not-so-future starting left cornerback of the Eagles, shows up today for the start of the voluntary Organized Team Activity camp at the NovaCare Complex, is the fact that the front office and coaching staff don't care all that much.

Oh, they would probably prefer that he did, that Sheppard would come in and say all the right things, so Andy Reid could temporarily push aside those pesky questions about the situation. But from Reid's perspective, that merely means the pesky questions would shift to some other topic - the quality of the wide receivers, the egregiously underpaid Brian Westbrook, something.

Like the good offensive lineman he was, Reid views each media session as a trench war in which he must hold his ground and provide protection. After nearly a decade of this, you have to admit he's a tough man to get around.

Therefore, if Lito is there or not, if the questions are easy or hard, Reid will do what he does, the Eagles will work through another endless session of no-pads practices, and the coming season will grind just a little bit closer.

Sheppard is under contract for four more years. If he serves out the duration of that contract - which he signed of his own free will - he will make an additional $13 million. That's on top of the $11 million he has already made on the 2004 deal, including a tidy $8.7 million signing bonus that must have looked nice in his Christmas stocking.

The Eagles are firmly in control of the situation, and know it. If a nice trade scenario arises - the Browns are looking to replace injured corner Daven Holly, for instance - then Sheppard will be dealt away. If it doesn't, he will be the third cornerback in a defense that has three corners on the field 60-70 percent of the time. Where's the rub?

From Sheppard's perspective, the rub is less about losing the "starting" position than it is about the contract given Asante Samuel, his replacement. Samuel will make $23 million if he plays 2008 and 2009 with the team and $14 million if he lasts only one season.

Sheppard doesn't have to like it - and there's no doubt he doesn't - but he does have to live with it. The Eagles have played hardball with their players before and have never minded doing so.

If it is a cold world on the field, it is also chilly in the upstairs offices at the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles still haven't acknowledged that Jason Licht is no longer the vice president of player personnel. His name was simply deleted from the organizational directory on the team's Web site, the way leaders who fell out of favor behind the Iron Curtain were once Photoshopped out of existence. Nothing to see here. Move along.

The other cleat dropped when Howie Roseman, a salary-cap-crunching protege of team president Joe Banner, was promoted from the administrative side of the staff to the player personnel side, taking Licht's vacant title. Former football player out, lawyer in.

Veteran readers of the organization's murky tea leaves saw this as a win for Banner and a loss for general manager Tom Heckert in some vague internal wrangling, but the Eagles then papered that over by extending Heckert's contract through 2011.

It's all speculation since Reid, Banner, Heckert and owner Jeff Lurie have remained quiet on the transition. Reid would probably rather chat about Sheppard for hours.

Offices are odd environments, and all employees are not always happy. Over at CBS3 - now there's an office - the FBI allegedly believes anchor Larry Mendte surreptitiously studied Alycia Lane's private Yahoo account. With the possible exception of Rich Eisen, Lane probably doesn't want any strange men peeking at her Yahoo. So, they've got a little public-relations problem over there.

By comparison, the Eagles have a pretty tame workplace. The employees are expected to come to work when required and be as productive as possible. If office politics cost someone a job, those are handled quietly.

The case of Lito Sheppard is just another bit of mortar in that stone wall. He will either show up or not, and the team will roll on regardless. If Sheppard does arrive and is given a pass route or two to run as a distraction - as one rumor had it last week - that will do nothing to change the overall situation or Sheppard's apparent discontent with his contract. It will mean only that Reid will have easier answers to distribute.

Easy or hard, it doesn't matter. This is how it works and the former left cornerback understands that, if nothing else.

Whether he comes to work today - technically, on a day off - will have no long-term effect. Business is business.

Bob Ford:


If Lito Sheppard shows up, he may play offense.