LeSean McCoy didn't mince words yesterday, when asked if his conditioning is where it normally would be, as May turns to June.
"Nah," McCoy said after joining the Eagles' impromptu player-organized workouts in Burlington County, McCoy's first appearance. "I'm a couple pounds heavier than I want to be. It's one of those things where you work out every day, but it's not the same. [Normally you would have] teammates pushing you, guys you got to war with out on the field, day in and day out, for practices and camp, and games. It isn't quite the same. I think everybody is affected a little bit. I'm still in good shape, but I was fatigued a little bit."
Mike Kafka, the only quarterback in attendance yesterday, was thrilled to see McCoy. Kafka said the addition of a running back meant he could finally work on screen passes.
The point has been made before, and will be made again - that while we're still quite a ways from the NFL lockout causing preseason or regular-season games to be canceled, we're not quite a ways from it affecting the 2011 season. Rookies and vets should have been through minicamp by now, and would be in the middle of organized team activities, what the Eagles have informally called "passing camp."
Players would be learning new offensive and defensive wrinkles, gaining knowledge coaches then could build upon in training camp. Winter weight gains would have been addressed.
Instead, the NFL waits for Friday's hearing of the league's appeal of the injunction that briefly lifted the lockout. There seems little suspense how the Eighth Circuit panel will rule - two of the three judges all but endorsed the owners' view in their decision to grant a stay of the injunction. But no ruling is expected for at least a few weeks, and apparently, there is no momentum toward serious negotiation.
McCoy has mostly been working out in Florida, but he flew home to Harrisburg over the weekend and drove to South Jersey to get some reps with teammates. He said yesterday was his first time running patterns and catching the ball this offseason.
"I've just been doing a lot of lifting, running, conditioning. This is actually my first type of like, football workout," he said.
McCoy said it isn't like there is no peer pressure - "we've got good leaders, [Jason] Avant is one of the best leaders in the offense" and he figures, heading into his third season, that he knows what he has to do. But a half-dozen or so guys on a field at a municipal complex is not an OTA. McCoy, who took one handoff from Kafka at the end of the session, isn't getting any timing work with his offensive line.
Michael Vick was here for 2 weeks of work with receivers, but now is back with his trainer in the Virginia Beach area. Kevin Kolb checked in last week but has headed back to Texas. That left Kafka alone to work up quite a sweat yesterday; at one point, former Eagles receiver (and current Viking) Greg Lewis took a break from running patterns to throw a few balls, giving Kafka a break.
"I needed these reps," Kafka said after throwing what he estimated were 100 to 150 passes in a scorching late-morning sun. "I need all the reps I can get, to be honest with you."
If the Eagles are eventually able to trade Kolb, Kafka might be Vick's main backup this season. Speculation holds that the Birds will try to bring in a veteran, but as the lockout drags on, it might be fair to wonder if a vet with no experience in the offense is going to run it better than Kafka, a fourth-round draftee from Northwestern last year.
"The only thing I can control is how hard I work, how much throwing I can get in and how much film study I can put in this offseason," said Kafka, who did not get into a regular-season game as a rookie. "The more I can communicate with these guys out here, the better off I'll be."
Kafka said the workouts usually follow a route tree. "If there's certain routes that people want to fix, and work on, we do those," he said.
Kafka said as much as he threw yesterday, it wasn't as much work as he would normally get in an OTA day, in which there would be many more receivers.
"Who knows how long [the lockout is] going to last, but the more we can put work in, the more we can keep progressing," he said.
Kafka said work continues for Eagles wherever they are, not just at the Burlington County complex. He said when fellow 2010 rookie Riley Cooper was in town recently but couldn't get to a regular session, they worked on their own in a Philadelphia park. "No lines, no grass, divots all over the place, but we got the work in," Kafka said. "That's all that matters. I know there's a lot of guys on the team doing that same exact thing. Just because they're not here in front of the cameras doesn't mean they're not getting the work done."