Journal Register News Service
PHILADELPHIA -- Eagles teammates seem to understand why cornerback Asante Samuel has taken the second week off from voluntary camp.
Samuel is taking care of family business that apparently includes custody of his children at this time of the year, according to sources.
Head coach Andy Reid and the Eagles have been apprised of the situation as well. It's safe to assume Reid and management would prefer Samuel be a little more creative working through the matter, though.
If, for example, Samuel isn't attending the second week of camp because he needs a babysitter, well, somebody around One NovaCare Way would help find him one. The want-ads around here are full of them these days.
All of that said, Samuel seems to have the support of teammates who are being compensated above and below the six-year, $59.475 million contract he inked two springs ago. It's what Samuel does on the field that counts, and he made his first Pro Bowl last season.
Teammates feel much the same way about cornerback Sheldon Brown, who hasn't attended either week of the voluntary camp. Brown has asked the Eagles to redo his contract or trade him.
"I think each person has their own way of handling it," veteran Eagles safety Quintin Mikell said. "A guy like me, I need to be here for these camps. It's important for me because I like getting the extra reps, getting the checks and all that stuff. Guys like Asante, I mean he's a great player. For someone like him it's not that big a deal for him not to be here. The same with Sheldon. I think both of those guys are professional and they're taking care of business. I think each person has their own category that they fit in when it comes to those things."
With Samuel and Brown doing their own thing, the door has opened for younger players to get quality snaps. Jack Ikegwuonu, who spent his rookie season on Injured Reserve, got a chance to play first-team nickel Tuesday. Don't think he didn't appreciate it.
"They definitely talked about it today, that it gives the other guys an opportunity to show what they've got," Ikegwuonu said. "Usually with the ones, they don't hold back with the playbook. They throw everything at us. You can challenge yourself. Asante has been doing it for years so they know what he can do. I haven't really gotten a chance to get out on the field. It's really my third week of practice. I've got a lot to prove. Every day is an audition and that's the way you have to look at it."
Offensive tackle Jason Peters, who inked a staggering six-year, $60 million contract extension after arriving in a trade with Buffalo for a first-round pick, thinks all of his teammates want to be at the voluntary camp. But Peters, who sat out virtually all of the 2008 offseason in a contract squabble, also said voluntary means voluntary.
"You don't have to be here," Peters said. "Guys can go home and enjoy their summer. Yeah, it's important for everybody to be here. I think Asante had a family issue and we understand that. So he had to go home. Whenever he gets back we're going to welcome him back. He had a family issue and he had to
Peters says he intends to be at all the Eagles' practices, voluntary or not. His deal reportedly is loaded with workout bonuses, including about $1 million this year. He also said more than half of the Eagles would want to attend the organized team activities whether or not they were voluntary.
Mikell isn't so sure.
"I'd probably say it would be about 50-50," Mikell said. "It would definitely be a lot more veterans than younger guys. That's part of the business. But I mean, I love football. It's what I do. (Panthers wide receiver) Steve Smith and I used to have the same agent and every year he left those workout bonuses on the table. But he came in, in shape and ready to go. It just depends on the guy. He can do his own thing."