CHRIS GOCONG turns 30 in November. A year ago, Gocong didn't envision himself ever again attending anyone's rookie camp, let alone the one being held this weekend at NovaCare by the Eagles, who drafted Gocong in the third round in 2006.
Gocong, a decent linebacker who never quite showed the playmaking instincts the Birds envisioned, left Philadelphia in a trade with the Browns after the 2009 season. In Cleveland, playing for general manager Tom Heckert, the man who drafted him for the Eagles, Gocong started all 32 games in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
But last August, Gocong tore his right Achilles' tendon, making 2012 a wash. And at the end of the season, Heckert, head coach Pat Shurmur and linebackers coach Billy Davis all were fired, as Gocong became a free agent.
Funny how the wheel turns. Davis is now the Eagles' defensive coordinator, and Gocong is attending Eagles rookie camp as a tryout, trying to revive his career.
"It took me back, being with the young guys and just going out there; they're so hungry," Gocong said yesterday after his first day on the field in a team setting since August.
"I'm lucky to get a chance to come here and play with [Davis] as a coordinator," Gocong said. "We'll see how it works out."
Gocong didn't seem to think the tryout was beneath him, despite 67 career NFL starts.
"It's just one of those things. If you get a serious injury, teams want to see how you are. Obviously, I've shown that my ankle's doing well and I can play right now . . . You really don't know" what will happen when you go into free agency off an injury, he said.
The Eagles ran a 4-3 scheme when Gocong was here before; he was one in a long line of strongside linebackers who didn't seem very adept at covering tight ends. Now, Davis is expected to run a "4-3 under," which looks like a 3-4 in most respects. Gocong said he has played in both systems and thinks he can flourish in either.
"It's fun; I'm not going to say too much about it, but it's fun," Gocong said when asked about Davis' Eagles system.
Undrafted rookie punter Brad Wing has an amazing leg; draft analysts agreed on that. But he also was suspended for LSU's bowl game, reportedly for failing drug tests. It was said the Tigers basically asked the Aussie to leave, despite 2 years of remaining eligibility.
Did character come up when he spoke with NFL teams during the draft process?
"That was pretty much what it was all about," Wing said. "It was kind of hard. I'd let people down in the past; there's nothing I can do about that. I can just try and move forward. I know that going into relationships now, they won't trust me. I'll have to build trust. I know that, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes, because this is where I want to be for the next 25 years. I'm willing to jump through any hoops that they want . . . I'm excited to be here."
First-round offensive tackle Lane Johnson was asked what his first day in uniform was like.
"It'll kinda [show] what kind of shape you're in. It was pretty fast-paced today; I think it caught a lot of people off-guard," said Johnson, who has said his Oklahoma team also practiced at a brisk pace. "I was in decent shape. I could be in better shape, but I was in decent shape. It was kinda faster than I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be more laid-back with some high tempo in there, but it was pretty much high tempo all the time."
New offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland "is a technique guy," Johnson said. "That's what he preaches. If you don't do it right, he's going to let you hear, let you know about it."