Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Boston Colleges [Print without images]

Friday, August 31, 2012
Eagles unfazed by rash of injuries

By Jack McCluskey

NEWTON, Mass. -- Eventually it got to a point when all they could do was shake their heads in disbelief.

One player went down, then another. And then another.

Injuries will always be a part of football, and the Eagles understand that. But to have this many, this early in the process?

Chris Pantale was lost first, then Al Louis-Jean got hurt. Deuce Finch, Tahj Kimble and Kaleb Ramsey all missed time in camp with various injuries. And now Bobby Swigert, QB Chase Rettig's go-to guy for much of last season, is out for several weeks with an injury of his own.

Bobby Swigert
WR Bobby Swigert is one of several key Eagles who are sidelined by injuries at the start of the season.
"It's always gonna have an effect on a team when your playmakers are not on the field, but I think that our offense is dynamic enough to overcome the injuries," running back Andre Williams said Wednesday as the Eagles were preparing for their season opener against Miami on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ESPN2).

Williams has seen first-hand the effect injuries can have on a team. Though he's been healthy through training camp, Williams was held out of a scrimmage because of injuries to fellow RBs Finch and Kimble. Head coach Frank Spaziani didn't want to risk an injury to Williams, too.

No one in Chestnut Hill is looking to use the injuries as an excuse. Don't get things twisted.

"That's just something that you just gotta go with," senior receiver Colin Larmond Jr. said. "I suffered that a few years ago."

Larmond, who missed the 2010 season with an ACL injury, said BC's coaches have preached accountability to the players, before and after the recent spate of injuries.

"They always tell us if you go out there, don't take practice for granted," he said. "Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. You have to give it your all, keep trying, keep getting better."

Players have to know that they may be one snap away from being a starter. And they have to prepare accordingly.

That doesn't mean the losses of Pantale, who was voted a captain this season before breaking a bone in his foot and undergoing surgery to repair it, and Swigert, who is out with a knee injury, will hurt any less.

"It hurts, just because me and him are close off the field," Rettig said of Swigert's injury. "He just loves playing football and he has a great work ethic, he's always there, 24-7. On the field he's quiet and calm and smooth.

"It's just a target that we're gonna miss for a couple weeks but someone else will step up. Guys have been stepping up in practice so we just need to see that transition onto the field."

Larmond agreed with his quarterback.

"It just gives other people a chance to step up," he said.

And if you ask the veteran, there is no shortage of wideouts capable of filling in. He cited Johnathan Coleman and Alex Amidon as two players to watch.

"He flies," Larmond said of Coleman. "He could play Division I basketball, hands down, anywhere in the country. He just has a motor that just never stops and he shows it in practice.

"He has great ball skills, great leaping ability and now he's finally piecing it together."

Then there's Amidon, the player Spaziani recently singled out as being potentially under-the-radar coming into the season.

"Alex Amidon has had a very good preseason for us," Spaziani said on his weekly ACC conference call with reporters Wednesday morning. "It's his third year coming in. We had to play him as a true freshman. It's about the time guys mature in programs.

"It's about time for Alex to mature and show what he can do."

When asked about the impact he could have, Amidon's teammates were glowing in their praise. They talked about his strict diet, which includes plenty of tomato juice and bananas, and his intense work ethic.

"That guy, he's something different," Larmond said. "I've never seen somebody never get tired. He runs full speed every rep, every play, whether it's a run or a pass, doesn't matter -- he runs full speed."

"He's just like the Energizer Bunny, he's always going," Rettig said.

In fact, among his teammates Amidon is known as A-Rab -- a combination of his initials (A.A.) and rabbit.

"I always expect a breakout from him because he's so fast," Larmond said. "A lot of people probably underestimate him because he's just little, he doesn't look like he can do much. But if you let him go, he's gonna run past you and run circles around you."

If the Eagles' understudies prove to be as good as advertised, they'll have people shaking their heads for an entirely different reason.

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.