Aug 172010

August 17 Philadelphia Daily News

Asante Samuel was in fine voice yesterday morning. Hardly a play passed without comment from the Eagles‘ Pro Bowl cornerback, volume thoughtfully adjusted to give offensive and defensive teammates, plus fans, the full benefit of his wisdom.

“I’m thinking you guys think I can’t run or something,” Samuel said during a one-on-one coverage drill. “Every ball’s a deep ball. Andy, is that what it is?”

Eagles coach Andy Reid did not respond. Samuel’s targets seldom do, but that doesn’t discourage him.

Later in the same drill, Samuel announced: “I’m waiting on 14, coach. I think [rookie Riley] Cooper’s the best over there. That’s why I want Cooper. You hear me, Jason [Avant]? I want Cooper.”

Again, Samuel’s request – perhaps a sly dig at Cooper’s status as camp phenom – was ignored. He covered Jeremy Maclin and knocked away the pass.

Still later, during 11-on-11 work, after a goal-line screen, Samuel scolded the playcalling, citing grounds many Eagles fans have raised during the Reid era.

“You can’t live on trick plays,” he admonished. “You’ve just got to line up and beat a man sometimes.”

Samuel seemed to like the sound of that last line, so he repeated it several times, until a fan hollered out: “Shut up and tackle!”

Most days are like this with Samuel, the game-changing playmaker whose shortcomings as a tackler became a major topic with the fans last season.

There are times when you think all this yapping must get on teammates’ nerves, especially from a guy who acknowledges he’s lighter than his listed 185 pounds, and who doesn’t play a physical game.

If it does grate, nobody was willing to say as much yesterday. In fact, the consensus was at times like these – the final days of Lehigh drudgery, with today the last two-a-day before camp breaks tomorrow, resuming at NovaCare Thursday for a walkthrough – Samuel’s soundtrack seems to help keep players focused.

“I absolutely love it. I think it brings great energy,” Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. “Football is a game of emotion, and this is not a library out here, so I love the noise.””

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