BETHLEHEM, Pa. - More evidence that NFL training camps have changed was presented yesterday as the Eagles' remaining veterans checked into their dorm rooms at Lehigh University.
Once upon a time, it was a common sight to see players lift television sets, music boxes and video games out of their luxury cars and shiny SUVs.
Yesterday, two players - running back Brian Westbrook and safety Brian Dawkins - went beyond that, showing up with their hyperbaric chambers.
"I started using it last year," Westbrook said. "You just get in and it helps your body recover a little bit faster. You need it, especially in training camp because your body gets really sore. With all the hitting and contact here, your body definitely needs it to recover . . . and, hopefully, it'll help me out."
Westbrook said he would be more than willing to let his teammates share his hyperbaric chamber, a good sign of team unity.
"I don't have any problem sharing it with them," Westbrook said. "Only offensive guys, though."
If one of the defensive players needs a handy, dandy hyperbaric chamber, he'll just have to consult Dawkins, who showed up 45 minutes after Westbrook and unloaded an identical model to the one owned by the Eagles' star running back.
"I started using it about two years ago," said Dawkins, who said former Eagles linebacker Mark Simoneau recommended the contraption. "The recovery time is ridiculous as far as bringing you back and helping you get through some of the aches that you probably wouldn't be able to get through naturally. This is the first year I brought it to camp."
While Westbrook and Dawkins couldn't leave home without the comfort of their hyperbaric chambers, new linebacker Takeo Spikes talked about a far more conventional and a far less expensive had-to-have item at training camp. It's something he has been using his whole life, but there will be no sharing of this item.
"Toilet tissue - preferably Charmin," Spikes said. "You have to have at least 300 or better thread counts. That's very big to me because if you don't have that, I don't know if I can go out and perform up to my level."
You can't make this stuff up.
Another of the Eagles' veterans decided to bring a little less of himself this year. Middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter said he weighed in at 256 pounds, nine pounds lighter than he was a year ago.
"I wouldn't call it skinny, but I'm trimmer," Trotter said. "I'm not fat; I just dropped weight. I'm not getting any younger and a little birdie told me I needed to lose some weight, so that's what I did."
Trotter, entering his 10th NFL season, is on record as saying he wasn't satisfied with the way he played last year and he wants to have the kind of rebound season that Dawkins had in 2006.
"I knew I needed to drop weight," Trotter said. "I trained really hard . . . and when you train hard, it pays off. I'm 256 pounds and it's solid muscle. I just feel more explosive. I'm really looking forward to this training camp and this season."
The consensus among the veterans checking in yesterday was that this Eagles team has a chance to do something special, which, of course, means they think they can win the Super Bowl.
"We're kind of flying under the radar, and those are the teams you've got to look out for," Trotter said. "We've got our backs against the wall and a lot to prove. We have high expectations in our locker room, and right now that's all that counts."
Dawkins, who missed the Eagles' minicamps after his wife, Connie, prematurely delivered twin girls in late April, is in love with the addition of Spikes at linebacker.
"I finally get the season going and get back with the guys and shake my dog TKO's hand," Dawkins said, adding that his daughters are doing well. "I can now start to see what this thing is going to be like once we get started. It's exciting to see these guys again."