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Eagles' McCoy, with new contract, ready to get down to business

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - LeSean McCoy opened his interview with an announcement.

“I’m happy the contract situation didn’t get blown out of proportion,” LeSean McCoy said. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
“I’m happy the contract situation didn’t get blown out of proportion,” LeSean McCoy said. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - LeSean McCoy opened his interview with an announcement.

"I'm serious now," the Eagles running back said.

And why is that?

"It's all business," McCoy answered, of course, with his patented smile.

After the disappointment of 2011, McCoy's opening statement upon his arrival at training camp Wednesday could be a mantra for the Eagles this season.

Last season it was business that occasionally got in the way. But this year it is that business - the business of the NFL - that is behind the Birds as they kick off another camp at Lehigh University, one coach Andy Reid hopes is without drama.

Several prominent Eagles got paid this offseason, earning contract extensions that weren't necessarily viewed as slam dunks. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson signed a five-year, $51 million deal; defensive end Trent Cole inked a six-year, $59 million extension; and tackle Todd Herremans signed a three-year, $21 million contract.

McCoy's new deal was the most important, not only because the Pro Bowl tailback is vital to the team's success, but because the Eagles did not have to extend him. He had one year left on his deal, just as Jackson did when he held out from the first 11 days of camp last summer.

McCoy and Jackson are different in many ways, but the Eagles were staring at another holdout. When they locked up McCoy to a five-year, $45 million deal in May and had all their draft picks under contract by mid-June, however, the Eagles had made sure that every player would be at camp on time.

"I'm happy the contract situation didn't get blown out of proportion," McCoy said Wednesday. "Both parties, both sides wanted to get the job done, and we did that, and now we're here. No distractions at all."

Of the Eagles' 22 projected starters on offense and defense, only cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is in the last year of his contract.

"It's been a big reason, our big problem, to not have a guy here," McCoy said. "It's a difference . . . a guy being here and not being here."

Reid has had a few teams arrive here with every player accountable, and those teams have failed to win a Super Bowl. So there's obviously much more to producing a title than having happy players. But it's a start.

"It's a plus - just from a continuity standpoint, team camaraderie, one less distraction," Reid said.

Camp can be all about football - "all business," as McCoy stated. The fourth-year running back has reached a point in his career where all of sudden he's a veteran, one of the stars on the team the younger players will look to for guidance.

He said that quarterback Michael Vick asked him this offseason to assume that mantle.

"He asked me to step up and be more of a leader, and I think I'm ready," McCoy said. "I'm 24. I feel this is the time now. Coach Reid and the coaching staff and the front office - I feel like they have a lot of confidence in me."

McCoy's confidence is sky high. He's coming off a season in which he led the league in touchdowns with 20, finished fourth in rushing with 1,309 yards, and fifth in yards from scrimmage with 1,624. He thinks there's room for improvement, though.

"I want to catch more passes," McCoy said.

He may have the opportunity if Reid reduces his carries, as he said he would this offseason. McCoy had 66 more carries last season than he did in 2010, and his average per carry dropped from 5.2 to 4.8 yards. He also caught 30 fewer passes last season.

McCoy said he was fine with fewer carries.

"I don't think it's a matter of touching the ball a lot to get the yards," he said. "I think I can get it done. I think coaches this year are going to try and match me up more to the advantage on our side."

McCoy will certainly be more of a target.

"I think it's something each player wants," he said.

The Eagles aren't lacking for confident players. Jeremy Maclin arrived at Lehigh wearing a shirt that read, "Damn, I'm good," in bold orange. The wide receiver has two years left on his contract and could be in line for an early extension if he has a breakout year like McCoy did in 2011.

"I'm just going to go out there and play football, man," Maclin said. "When that time comes I'll approach it when that time comes."