When you’re on a tight schedule, no time to waste weeping…
The Philadelphia Eagles tried to honor coach Andy Reid’s wishes by getting back to focusing on football Monday…
They responded with one of their most spirited practices since they reported to training camp at Lehigh University two weeks ago.
Running back LeSean McCoy challenged safety Kurt Coleman during the pass protection drill, then stopped him in his tracks while talking trash. Kurt Coleman answered with two interceptions later. Fullback Stanley Havili threw a punch at safety Phillip Thomas, who danced around until coaches intervened. Guard Evan Mathis emphatically pointed out defensive tackle Derek Landri had jumped offsides, drawing laughs from the fans.
“That was definitely a high-energy practice,” Mathis said. “As a team, I thought we rallied together and picked each other up. When every single person has that mentality, it’s a powerful thing.”
It wasn’t easy. Players and coaches participated in a walkthrough and practice while also still trying to cope with the death of Reid’s oldest son, Garrett Reid. The 29-year-old, who was attending training camp as a volunteer assistant with the strength and conditioning staff, was found dead in his dorm room Sunday morning.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg ran Monday’s practices in place of Andy Reid, who left the team Sunday after delivering an emotional address to the players. Reid is expected to return for Thursday’s preseason opener against Pittsburgh on Thursday, though most of the team will be attending Garrett Reid’s funeral today in Broomall, Pa.
“It was quite different (without Reid),” Mornhinweg said. “Any time that your head coach is not available, it is always different. He’s the leader of this football team, there’s no question about that.”
In a statement from the Reid family, Garrett Reid “lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years.”
A prepared statement by Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid issued Monday evening implies that the death of his eldest son, Garrett, on Sunday morning, was the result of a long battle with drug addiction. In the statement, Reid said: “Even though he lost the battle that has been ongoing for the last eight years, we will always remember him as a fighter who had a huge, loving heart.” Lehigh University police and the Northampton County coroner’s office said shortly before Reid’s statement that their joint investigation was not complete and that they would not release any information on the death of the 29-year-old. Garrett Reid was found dead in his dorm room on campus just before the team was to hit the field for the first of two training-camp practices on Sunday.
But this is where it’s complicated for the players, many of whom see Andy Reid as a second father and came to know Garrett in his time with the team as a volunteer strength coach.
“I spent plenty of time with [Garrett],” said guard Evan Mathis. “He was always in the weight room with us and was always on the field with us. He was a happy-go-lucky guy and always a joy to be around, always telling jokes and having fun. Really just brightened your day when you were around him.”
Center Jason Kelce described his reaction to hearing the news as denial at first. He didn’t want to allow himself to believe what he heard.
“I found out about it on the practice field,” he said. “I think most of us didn’t hear about it until the walk-through that morning. Everybody in the morning saw the ambulances and the medical personnel rushing onto the scene, but nobody knew who it was for. As a matter of fact, when I saw them going into Building C, I thought it was one of the coaches. We didn’t find out it was Garrett until the walk-through.
“I didn’t think it was real. You kind of get that feeling like this guy’s been misinformed. That can’t be right…”
“When Coach Reid and his family are down, we’re down also,” said running back LeSean McCoy. “We’ll have to battle together, and his message was to stick together for him. A lot of guys have sent him text messages and have tried to talk to him. He was a little hurt, and that was the first time that I had ever seen Coach Reid get emotional.
“He’s definitely a tough guy. It’s up to us as brothers of his and sons of his to back him up.”
Added tackle Todd Herremans: “I already had mountains of respect for Andy and his family, but coming in and addressing the team, I can’t even describe how much more feeling I have for him and how much I respect the man. He is a strong individual.”
Strong enough also to inspire the team to keep rolling.
“You don’t want to run into a low point right now where everybody is somber and down on the ground,” Herremans said. “I think that if Andy was out there at practice with us, one of the main things he would want is us flying around, jogging around, hustling back to the huddle, hustle up to your spots and execute just to keep the practice moving.
“Those are the little things that we can control as players, and I just try to do my part and help out there.”
The Eagles certainly did that in Monday afternoon’s partial contact session (full pads but no tackling), going hard in every drill, even if they were still a little sloppy along the lines in the scrimmages.
Offensive and defensive players engaged in spirited battles with their words as well as their bodies.
But quarterback Michael Vick might have best described the situation.
“It was great to get out there and throw the ball around a little bit and kind of get it off of your mind,” he said. “When you walk off that field is when it hits you again and there is no escape from it.”
EAGLES AT LEHIGH—Practice today: None…. Players’ day off.. but also time to start game-planning vs. Pittsburgh on Thursday night…