First, players had to deal with questions about Juan Castillo.
"You know, it's a part of the business of football," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said Monday. "We all respect him. I respect Juan as a man, as a coach. Obviously, he's going to land on his feet and he's going to do well. It was tough, at first, to hear it because you've pretty much grown so much with a guy and seen him grow so much. But you know that he's going to be fine wherever he ends up."
Asomugha's thoughts on Castillo's dismissal were particularly noteworthy because he publicly questioned his playcalling following Philadelphia's loss to Detroit last Sunday. Two days later, Castillo was fired after his defense blew consecutive fourth-quarter leads.
"I had a tough time last week when those stories came out, to be honest," Asomugha said. "It was more so a character thing and that's something that I would never do as a player. I wouldn't do that to a coach and especially Juan, just because as far as a player-coach relationship, we had been so communicative. It wasn't a good feeling. But after speaking to him and him knowing that wasn't the case, I think it made it a lot better.
"But I don't think that had anything to do with him being let go or anything."
Whether Asomugha's second-guessing factored into coach Andy Reid's decision to let Castillo six games into the season won't be known. Regardless, Bowles is in charge now for the first time in his coaching career.
Bowles addressed the players before practice and has their full support. He has a far longer history with the defense than Castillo did. Bowles played safety in the NFL for seven seasons and has coached that side of the ball the last 13 years. Castillo was switched to defense after 13 years coaching the offensive line.
"He's definitely a player's coach," safety Nate Allen said of Bowles. "He relates to us well and we all like him as a coach, and off the field he is a great guy. He's smart so it's going to be a good thing. He talks to us like men. He's not real up in your face. He's not a loud guy. He expects you to know what you have to do as a man and as a professional."
Bowles has never called the defensive plays before, though he was interim head coach for Miami for the last three games in 2011. He'll get his first chance Sunday when the Eagles (3-3) host Atlanta (6-0). It's uncertain whether Bowles will be on the field or up in the booth.
"I think in the grand scheme of things he was helping make play calls throughout this year," safety Kurt Coleman said. "He's a smart coach, he really is. He's going to do his due diligence and understand the game as far as the offense is going to attack us and you have to be able to adjust during the game. I think he's going to do a great job with that."
The Eagles had a familiar face back on the field Monday. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson returned to practice after missing the first six games due to brain surgery in the offseason. Patterson likely will need at least a couple weeks of practice before he can be ready for a game.
"They're just going to take it slow," Patterson said. "We're going to see how things work out. The big man (Reid), he's just not in a rush to get me out there and risk anything. So, they're just kind of looking at me.
"I'm just happy to be out there running around."