Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid welcomed a happy new training camper to Lehigh University Friday.
''I think the first thing he said to me, he cursed me,'' newly signed first-round draft pick Jerome McDougle said. ''He said, 'McDougle, get your over there.' And I think he said 'Hi' to me one time.''
McDougle arrived a week late, but certainly not a dollar short. The 6-2, 264-pound defensive end signed a six-year contract that, thanks to incentive clauses, has the potential to pay him more than $12 million.
Although the Eagles anticipated McDougle would be in Bethlehem in time for Friday morning's full-gear practice session, a late delay in the shuffle of papers Thursday caused him to miss a late-evening flight out of Miami. He did not take the practice field until the Eagles' non-contact afternoon practice Friday.
''I hired one of the best agents in Drew Rosenhaus, so I let him do his job,'' McDougle said. ''I wanted to come in as soon as possible and I kept telling him that, but I let him do his job.''
The Rosenhaus-McDougle camp had as leverage knowledge that the Eagles need him, something made evident on draft day when they traded up from No. 30 to No. 15 to select him.
McDougle earned All-Big East honors after making 110 tackles, 13 sacks and 30 stops in two seasons as a starter at Miami. He also recovered three fumbles and forced four others.
Those statistics are indication of why the Eagles believe McDougle can be the eventual successor and the sooner, the better to Hugh Douglas as their top pass rusher. Douglas went to Jacksonville as a free agent.
''There's no pressure on me,'' McDougle said. ''I'm just going to contribute. I have a good defensive coordinator and good players around me.''
Although they have been working in the heat and humidity without him, McDougle said he felt welcome in camp.
''Corey went through the same thing, and Bobby Taylor was out for minicamp,'' McDougle said. ''All the guys said, 'That's the business part. You'll hear some comments, but just show them what you can do on the field.'''
McDougle was the third of the Eagles' last five first-round draft picks to stage a training camp holdout. Quarterback Donovan McNabb, the second overall pick of the 1999 draft, stayed away for six days before agreeing to a contract. Defensive tackle Corey Simon, selected sixth overall in 2000, held out for 12 days.
Johnson and Reid expressed concern earlier in the week over how much practice time McDougle was missing. But McDougle did not seem concerned Friday.
''I don't feel like I'm behind,'' McDougle said. ''I think I did OK on my plays .''
Jamaal Green, the Eagles' fourth-round draft pick who was McDougle's teammate and fellow defensive end at Miami, said McDougle will have no problem getting into the flow of training camp.
''The good thing is he had the defensive playbook and I'm sure he looked it over,'' Jamaal Green said. ''And we haven't gone over anything new yet.
''It was tough where we were,'' Green added. ''At Miami, we had full pads for both practices and it was hotter than here. So he'll be ready.''
Now, the Eagles can focus on their final camp absentee, Duce Staley. The veteran running back is attempting to force the team into extending his contract beyond the end of this season.
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