“It is just past 8 a.m.; another year, another training camp. A few Eagles support people are on the fields, making sure things are ready for the first practice. New starting quarterback Kevin Kolb is in civilian clothes, doing a live television interview. The bright sun has not yet evaporated the dew in the grass.
Stretching does not begin for about 15 minutes, practice not for another 45. One player is dressed and ready, kneeling on the goal line of the nearest field. Free-agent safety Ryan Hamilton, an undrafted rookie from Vanderbilt, seems just to be taking it all in, alone.
It can be a brutal business, this NFL thing. Hamilton, out of Council Rock North High School, already has been released this spring by the New Orleans Saints. Now he has hooked on with his hometown team, but without the pedigree or sponsorship that a draft choice receives. The length of the road is plain.
It is the first day, though, and the fields are pristine, and so are the dreams.
“When I came out there, I was just making sure I had my mind ready,” Hamilton says. “I wanted to be focused. I wanted to get a good stretch in. I’d rather be out here than sit in the locker room.
“I don’t sit in the coaches’ meetings so I don’t really know what my chances are. But it’s in my control. I don’t want to give them a choice.
“Being a local guy, I know I have a lot of people pulling for me already. But, you know, it is what it is. As an undrafted guy, sometimes you have to make more plays. That’s just how it goes. You have to realize where you stand. You have to realize what it takes.””
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