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Eagles Notebook

By Larry O'Rourke

Of The Morning Call

July 31, 2003

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There isn't as much hitting, but the kinder, gentler approach to the first three days of full-squad practices at the Philadelphia Eagles training camp is a hit with the people most directly impacted by the change.

''This is a lot better than before,'' Eagles offensive tackle Tra Thomas said. ''We won't have the pads on for the afternoon practice, so everybody will go all-out in the morning. I think that's better. You can go all-out instead of thinking about putting the pads back on again for the afternoon.''

''The past few years we've gone three straight days in for doubles in pads,'' quarterback Donovan McNabb said. ''Now we're in shorts and 'shells' in the afternoon, and hopefully that will put us in position to be a little fresher late in the season.''

To recap: Eagles coach Andy Reid — after some strong prodding by the NFL — is having only one full-equipment practice session per day at training camp. That's a departure from the first three days of training camp in Reid's first four years of camp. NFL officials put on pressure in the wake of the dehydration death of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer in August 2001 and amid concerns about liability.

So Wednesday, the first day of full-squad workouts at Lehigh University, was Day 1 of the kinder, gentler Camp Reid.

''Things change in this game, and you have to adjust,'' Reid said. ''The will be fast and aggressive, and, with the exception of the live periods, everything will be basically the same. I think you'll see high energy. It lets their bodies breathe a little easier than what they normally do with pads on.''

Injuries: Defensive end Brandon Whiting sat out practice to rest his sore hamstring.

Backup tight end/long snapper Mike Bartrum (hamstring strain) and center/guard Scott Peters (ankle sprain) also are hobbled, but practiced.

Still the 1: The Eagles allowed veteran Blaine Bishop to depart via free agency, so Michael Lewis will make his starting debut at strong safety. Al Harris, the third cornerback, was traded to Green Bay.

But cornerback Troy Vincent said nothing much has changed.

''We believe we're the finest in the National Football League,'' Vincent said. ''It'll be no different this year.''

In other words: ''It's not learning French, it's learning broken French,'' Reid said in explaining that rookie third-round pick Billy McMullen has picked up the nuances of the Eagles' West Coast offense quickly because he played wideout in essentially the same system at Virginia.

Coming soon: Lincoln Financial Group, which purchased naming rights to the Eagles' new stadium, will feature McNabb and an actor portraying Abe Lincoln in a TV commercial. The spot will debut during the Eagles-Bucs ABC Monday Night opener on Sept. 8.

Sideline sightings: Former Eagles Mike Quick, Mike Mamula and Chuck Bednarik attended practice.

Today at camp: The Eagles are scheduled to practice at 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. The offensive linemen will sign autographs in the tent following the morning session. Fans are encouraged to call the Eagles' training camp information line (610-758-6868) to confirm times and access.