With star running back Brian Westbrook scheduled for surgery in Baltimore today, all eyes were focused on his backups at yesterday's full-team voluntary workouts.
Lorenzo Booker, who touched the ball 26 times in 10 games last season, seemed comfortable getting the lion's share of snaps with the first unit during voluntary organized team activities.
"I'm not trying to learn anything now," said Booker, entering his third season in the NFL and his second with the Eagles. "I'm trying to fine-tune what I already know."
That's not true for rookie second-rounder LeSean McCoy. Understandably, McCoy seemed lost at times, operating at perhaps 70 percent of full speed as he tried to implement what he has learned since he was drafted in April.
"My head's spinning with this offense," McCoy said.
Neither expects Westbrook to miss a regular-season game during the upcoming season after Dr. Mark Myerson cleans out Westbrook's right ankle, which he sprained in Week 3 last season.
Even with some big-name veterans unsigned - Edgerrin James, J.J. Arrington, Warrick Dunn - Booker said with his knowledge of the offense, he feared none of them would be able to take what he considers to be his job until Westbrook returns.
He also acknowledged that Westbrook's absence, especially since it likely will cost Westbrook preseason action, would afford Booker a chance to further show Eagles coaches his value, despite his size (he's generously listed at 5-10, 191 pounds).
Both Booker and McCoy stressed that they had no designs on Westbrook's job.
Eagles coach Andy Reid told the Daily News the team would await news of the surgery before deciding on a course of action, but that he isn't that concerned about it.
"It's not like he tore his ACL," Booker said. "I called him. He said he's going to be fine. I don't see him missing significant time."
Between now and the opener Sept. 13, little of significance happens for a player of Westbrook's caliber and experience.
"He'll miss the things he can afford to miss," Booker said. "What can he possibly learn from OTAs?"
It isn't what he can learn; it's what he can teach.
Like Booker did last year, McCoy has leaned on Westbrook for pointers and corrections.
"He was always giving me tips," said McCoy, whose sure hands as a receiver and shifty running style - both Westbrook traits - led the Eagles to draft him. "He helped me see things through his eyes. How he simplifies the offense for himself."
Yesterday, McCoy got lots of input.
After almost every play, especially the plays on which he ran a route, one of the offensive coaches had a comment for him.
He appeared to miss a blitz-pickup assignment and was immediately counseled by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, then running backs coach Ted Williams. He lined up incorrectly after the team broke the huddle and was corrected by quarterback A.J. Feeley. It took him three moves to shed linebacker Tracy White in one-on-one drills.
The day for McCoy was not all struggles.
He snagged a bullet from Donovan McNabb in the middle and elicited this comment from receivers coach David Culley: "Ah! Nice hands!"
Earlier, snaring a screen pass, McCoy darted downfield behind two blockers. Reid awaited him 30 yards downfield, called him over, and congratulated him on correctly turning upfield immediately, a fix from an error made earlier in camp.
If Westbrook were healthy, McCoy said, he might not have such an accelerated learning curve.
"You make an error on the field, you can correct it on the field," McCoy said.
Andy Reid learned that Zordich was interested in coaching and hired him in what appears to be an open-ended trial with the Eagles. *
The team has hired former Eagles and Penn State safety Mike Zordich as a coaching intern to work with the defensive backfield. Zordich spent 12 seasons in the NFL, the last five with the Eagles, retiring after the 1998 season. He returned to his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, where, for the last decade, he ran a business, coached at the high school level and raised his three sons before accepting a position at Youngstown State as a safeties coach in February.