BETHLEHEM - Duce Staley is back with the Eagles, this time on the other side of the whistle.
"My feet are so wet right now I might fall down," said Staley, who is back at training camp with former linebacker Shawn Barber as part of the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship intern program.
Exchanging the helmet and shoulder pads for a green visor and white T-shirt, Staley now sees the long hours and days coaches go through trying to piece a team together in training camp.
"But it's worth it when you put that product on the field," said Staley, who will be with the Eagles for the duration of training camp. "It's worth it when you go out there and you see the guy you're helping get better, go out there and make big runs or catch big balls or score big touchdowns."
At the top of the agenda this summer for Staley and running backs coach Ted Williams is preparing LeSean McCoy to be the feature back in the wake of Brian Westbrook's release. McCoy is scheduled to report tomorrow with the remaining veterans.
The Eagles haven't been this unsure of what they have at the running back spot since Staley was thrust into the starting role in 1998 after Charlie Garner injured his knee. That year, Staley rushed 258 times for 1,065 yards, caught 57 passes for 432 yards and scored six touchdowns. Staley benefited from learning from veterans such as Garner and Ricky Watters when he broke into the league in 1997.
"He reminds me a lot of Westbrook when he first got here," Staley said of McCoy. "I remember taking 'West' under my wing and teaching him and showing him everything I learned on the field from Ricky and Charlie and those guys. When you're able to look at LeSean go out there and be able to bring a special talent to the field like he's brought, you get a good respect for him."
Staley was also around for Andy Reid's first training camp in 1999 and said it's different being back without names like McNabb, Dawkins, Taylor and Vincent stitched on the green and white jerseys. But he knows all about the nature of the NFL, having left the Eagles to sign with Pittsburgh in 2004 in hopes of getting more carries.
"You gotta understand, time comes with change," said Staley, who hosts a 3-hour weekday sports-talk radio show in South Carolina, where he attended college. "You just gotta remember it's a revolving door in every organization. It's all about the youth. It's all about building with the guys you got."
Barber, the secondary coach at Baker College in Baldwin City, Kan., plans to observe the linebackers, secondary and linemen the next 3 weeks, hoping to grasp the complete defensive scheme. As a linebacker, Barber was honed in on learning his assignments but was curious about the different techniques and philosophies of the other defensive positions.
"You can't come out here humdrum one time. You can't be up and down," Barber said. "You gotta be very consistent as a coach. That's one thing about Coach [Andy] Reid; I mean, he's the model of consistency."
This is new territory for Staley, who had been thinking about coaching for a couple years before finally making the call to Williams, Reid and receivers coach David Culley.
For Staley, it was imperative to learn under Williams because he could step in and know the system.
And should coaching fall through, Staley plans to share what he's learned with his kids to help them develop.