Lehigh Valley welcomes NFC East Blog

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - After a harrowing flight from Dallas to Philadelphia that was diverted to Allentown, Pa. due to poor weather, I arrived at Lehigh University with two minutes to spare before practice Sunday. As my Chevy Impala rental car climbed toward the school's gorgeous mountainside campus, I was greeted by a large flashing sign that read, "Eagles practice has been canceled due to lightning."

Feeling somewhat like Chevy Chase in "National Lampoon's Vacation," I was determined to see Eagles players, so I followed a small group of folks into Philip Rauch Fieldhouse, where the club was holding a crawl-through. The facility, which has been home to elaborate car shows, Patriot League track meets and possibly large aircrafts, isn't really cut out for a football practice. At one point, I watched Hank Baskett run an out pattern and almost end up in the triple-jump pit.

Head coach Andy Reid stood behind the first-team offense as it jogged through 10 plays. Running back Brian Westbrook finished reading the fine print in his new contract and participated in both of Sunday's sessions.

Starting cornerback Asante Samuel was finally back in practice after missing three weeks with a hamstring injury. According to eyewitnesses, he appeared to tweak something in the first practice, but was back with the first team for the indoor practice. Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard rotated on the other side.

In other news, word quickly spread that right guard Shawn Andrews had arrived on campus. One player told me that Andrews, who has reportedly been dealing with depression issues, was waiting for the team in the locker room. It made sense because the guy at the National Rental Car counter had told me earlier in the afternoon that he saw a man who looked much like Andrews walking through the baggage claim area at Lehigh International.

I'm planning to attend both practices tomorrow and visit with Reid and several players. At some point Monday, you can read about my visit with tight end L.J. Smith. Lots of Russian Kettlebell talk -- as one might expect.

Right now, I'm trying to get my arms around the fact that every restaurant in Lehigh Valley closes at 8 p.m. on Sundays. If you've attended Eagles training camp in the past or live in the Valley, I'm open to (non-chain)recommendations.

One more housekeeping note: Right now the plan is to blow out the Eagles tomorrow and part of Tuesday. I'll then make the drive to Albany to spend time with the Giants. New York's off day Wednesday has thrown a wrench into plans. Very frustrating that Coughlin refuses to work around my schedule.

By the way, my sit-down with Tom and GM Jerry Reese is currently scheduled for Thursday. I encourage Giants fans to begin sending your questions immediately.