Lorenzo Booker said he thinks he's the No. 2 running back on the Eagles.
While the Eagles probably like that kind of optimism from a veteran fighting for a spot, it doesn't exactly square with other recent signals regarding rookie LeSean McCoy, who was picked in the second round of April's draft.
Coach Andy Reid said in a radio interview earlier in May that McCoy was the backup to Brian Westbrook. Reid was not available yesterday.
The depth chart on the Eagles' Web site yesterday listed McCoy ahead of Booker.
Signals or not, Booker said he's ready for the challenge.
"For me to start sweating, you've got to take my job," Booker said. "Come take my job. If you can take it, then take it. We'll see. That's what the whole point of camp and all that is."
Booker, 24, was at the NovaCare Complex yesterday for the Eagles' voluntary organized team activities for rookies and veterans who chose to attend. Booker did not have to be there.
Last year at this time, after the Eagles had acquired Booker from the Dolphins for a fourth-round pick, the Florida State product dazzled. But he fizzled when they went to full gear and nearly disappeared once the games started.
He was inactive for the loss to Arizona in the NFC championship game.
"I think last year, for me, was more of a redshirt year," said Booker, who had 20 carries for 53 yards last season. "I don't think coming in Coach Reid's intentions were to just throw me out there. He didn't have to. Again, you have Brian and you have Correll" Buckhalter in 2008.
Booker suggested that the Eagles didn't need to use him in 2008 but knew Buckhalter, who signed with Denver, would not be back for 2009.
"I don't have any complaints because I would always ask if there was something that I needed to be doing," Booker said. "They always told me I was doing fine. That further let me know that 'Listen, just learn as much as you can in practice, and your time will come.' "
As of last month, the Eagles were at least publicly saying that his time could come.
"For whatever reason, it didn't work out great for him last year," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said in April. "But we think he can still play. It's tough to say he's going to be our No. 2 guy just because he didn't get a lot of opportunities last year and didn't play much for us. But we do like him."
But that was before the Eagles drafted McCoy. Booker said he applauded the selection of the 20-year-old Pittsburgh product, noting the team needs more depth in the backfield. But he isn't worried about McCoy being handed the No. 2 job.
"Had they drafted a running back in the first round that's a whole 'nother commitment," Booker said. "That means the back doesn't really have to work for his job. He's given the job. That's anybody in the first round. When you make that kind of investment in a person, you're going to see what you can get out of them."
McCoy, a Harrisburg native, was the 53d pick overall. When McCoy talked about learning the Eagles' offense he spoke as if he is the presumptive backup.
"They're trying to make me fit in to this offense because it's a tough offense. It's not easy," he said. "But they're drilling me into an every-down running back. It helps that I have one of the best running backs [Westbrook] in the NFL ahead of me."
Naturally, McCoy still has a lot to grasp. For example, he has to block upright instead of using the chop-blocking technique employed at Pitt. He was a good receiver in college, but in the Eagles' scheme, he has to learn to split out wide.
Westbrook, who might attend next week's team workout, is coming off knee surgery and will be eased into a full return. He also turns 30 before the season opener, so there should be plenty of opportunity for the similarly sized McCoy (5-foot-10, 198 pounds) and Booker (5-10, 191) to slug it out for the second team.