BETHLEHEM - Mike McGlynn, who started 43 games in a row at Pitt, has been an Eagle for two seasons now, and hasn't started an NFL game yet. He's played in only three, plus one in the playoffs, all in the 2008 season. It's been a strange existence.
It has been less strange this training camp, so far. McGlynn has been getting lots of first-team reps at center, with Nick Cole fighting knee swelling and Jamaal Jackson still recovering from anterior cruciate ligament surgery. McGlynn, listed in the Eagles' media guide as a guard, is the third-string center when everyone else is healthy; he probably never thought when he finally got a shot at playing time, it would be in the middle. But here he is, looking likely to be the guy snapping the ball to Kevin Kolb when the Eagles open their preseason Friday night against visiting Jacksonville. After that, who knows?
"He's a good player," Kolb said yesterday. "He's an intelligent guy. He does a lot of off-the-field studying, making sure he's up to par on all the stuff, you know. That's what you want in your center; you want a smart guy who can help us with the protections and get us in the right stuff."
The Eagles' center calls out the protections for his teammates, something McGlynn said was the most challenging transition he has had to make into pro football, since being drafted in the fourth round in 2008. He was a tackle and guard at Pitt, though he played center in high school in Austintown, Ohio.
"It's always been a natural position for me. I feel comfortable at it right now," said McGlynn, listed at 6-4, 315. "Injuries happen, and I hope Nick gets back out, but the more reps I get, the better it is for me."
Coach Andy Reid indicated that McGlynn is understandably green.
"It starts right there, it starts at center," Reid said. "We're doing a lot of blitz drills here, and that center has to be able to be the transmitter between the left and right side and, in particular in those drills, with his calls. That's where he's getting better. I think physically, he's fine. I just think he's got to see all those different looks, and Sean [McDermott, the defensive coordinator] is throwing a bunch of different looks at him. He handled it better today and took a step forward."
Although McGlynn politely disagreed when a reporter broached the subject yesterday, McGlynn did not have the team's most impressive physique when he arrived from Pitt. He looked kind of like Kevin from "The Office." McGlynn looks considerably less "loose" now, and he has logged a lot of time on the practice field under the tutelage of offensive-line coach Juan Castillo. It wouldn't be a shock if he began the season as the center, pending Jackson's return, expected reasonably early.
Cole made the team as a backup center, but after starting 20 games at guard over the past two seasons, he has seemed a bit rusty plugged back into the middle, particularly with the shotgun snaps. The ball was on the ground a lot early in camp.
McGlynn was asked about his own snaps yesterday.
"Have I had any fumbles yet? " he asked, knowing the answer was no. "Well, knock on wood."
Tight end Cornelius Ingram and rookie wideout Riley Cooper both played with Tim Tebow at Florida. Both were asked yesterday about the hazing haircut Tebow received in Denver, the monk-like, tonsure thing.
"You know what, Riley actually showed me about 3 days ago on the phone," Ingram said. "I thought it was a [fake]. I really didn't think it was a real photo. Now that it's out now, they at least could have gave him a better cut than that, though. It looked bad. It looked bad."
Cooper said: "I love it, I think he should keep it. No, I'm just kidding. The haircut was awful."
Andy Reid also joked that he thought the cut looked good.
Reid doesn't allow such hazing on the Eagles - the worst that might happen to a rookie is being asked to carry a vet's pads or being sent out for lunch.
Wide receiver Hank Baskett is out with what Andy Reid said was a mild medial collateral ligament sprain . . . Kicker David Akers took the day off with a bruised heel . . . J.J. Arrington (foot) returned for the afternoon practice after missing the morning . . . Ditto running back LeSean McCoy (heat) . . . Reid said he sees "potentially 10 guys that I just think have great motors and love to play the game" on his defensive line. *