When the Eagles convene this afternoon for their final round of organized team activities before training camp, Brian Stewart will officially be on board as "special assistant to the defense," working with the secondary. According to the Eagles' Web site, Stewart was around for rookie camp last week, but at that point, he hadn't officially been hired.

The Eagles addressed that detail yesterday. The former Dallas defensive coordinator joined a staff currently working without coordinator Jim Johnson, who is taking a leave of absence while being treated for metastasized melanoma. Secondary coach Sean McDermott is filling in for Johnson, leaving an opening for Stewart in the defensive backfield.

It will be at least mildly interesting to see whether one of Stewart's new pupils, veteran corner Sheldon Brown, shows up for the 2 weeks of optional workouts. Brown is unhappy with his contract and has asked to be traded. Brown attended the mandatory, postdraft minicamp - he could have been fined if he hadn't shown - but often, disaffected players stay away from optional camps. If Brown doesn't want to attend this time, he cannot be fined, though, of course, the team could factor his absence into the equation when evaluating whether to make Brown or newcomer Ellis Hobbs the starter opposite Asante Samuel. Neither Brown nor agent Jason Chayut responded to messages asking for comment yesterday.

Stewart, 44, was fired when the Cowboys missed the playoffs because of their crushing, 44-6 loss to the host Eagles in the season finale. Whether Stewart had been scapegoated by head coach Wade Phillips was a big topic in Dallas after that move.

"Brian Stewart brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our football club," Eagles coach Andy Reid said in the statement announcing Stewart's hiring. Reid was offensive line coach at Northern Arizona in 1986, when Stewart was a cornerback there. "He especially has a good understanding of the NFC East acquired during his time with the Cowboys. He'll be a nice addition to our coaching staff."

The Eagles will work out this afternoon and tomorrow morning, then participate in the Eagles Youth Partnership's annual playground build at Potter-Thomas Elementary School on North 6th Street. They will practice again Thursday and Friday, and next Monday through Thursday, then will break until rookie and select vets report to training camp at Lehigh, July 26. *

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.