April 16, 2007He had finished his running, and then his lifting and lunch was barely settled when Takeo Spikes paused for an interview. Spikes was the new guy on Monday, his first day working out in the team's off-season conditioning program.
After the Eagles acquired him from Buffalo in a trade in March, Spikes spent some time attending to his personal business. Now it is time to be an Eagle, full fledged, and Spikes is already in the groove.
He spent Monday working out, learning some of the playbook and shopping for a new home.
"It feels good to be here," he says. "It feels right. I can tell already by meeting some of the guys and talking to people that this is a close-knit team. There is a family feel here. I like the vibe. It's new and that is probably part of it, but I can tell that the players know how to prepare in the off-season to win in the season.
"I like the aggressive nature of the scheme and I am sure they are going to move the pieces around from one play to the next," said Spikes.
"I don't think it is going to be hard for me to pick up. I've seen pretty muchThat really is the intriguing part. While Spikes may indeed play all three spots, he is here to take somebody's starting position, first and foremost. The Eagles haven't committed -- publicly -- to where Spikes will play, so for now all we know is that they expect to get him on the field as much as possible.
all there is to see in the NFL. I'm going to learn all three linebacker
positions and we will see what happens."
Spikes will start; there is no doubt about that. Where he starts is the question unanswered.
"I don't know yet," he said. "I don't really care, either. Whatever they want me
to do, I'll do."
There are so many things that happen when a player is traded, and all the pieces must come into place for the player to enjoy success in his new home. The fans see the player on the field and don't add up all the other variables.
But when you see a player on his first day in -- the press conference day doesn't count, as it generally consists of a quick visit, a physical, handshakes, a press conference and then a limousine to the airport -- you realize how much is going on in his life.
For starters, there is the very notion of understanding the way the Eagles do things. They start their conditioning program promptly -- "I knew not to be late," said Spikes -- and the pace is extremely fast. Strength and conditioning coach Mike Wolf is highly regarded for the program he oversees, and the players are expected to keep pace with him, not the other way around.
There is the matter of learning teammates' names and finding out about them. Finding a new home is also tremendously important. Understanding how the Eagles run their programs, their meeting times, how the NovaCare Complex is configured ... it is all new for Spikes.
This is Spikes' third NFL team, so he knows a thing or two about fitting in.
"You just have to be yourself and get to know the players on a personal level,"
he said. "I'm not going to force myself on anyone. That isn't how it works.
We're all working together for the same thing, and that is what is important.
"Once I get into the groove of things, everything will be fine. This is exciting
for me. I know this is going to be a good team, so I have to be at my best. That
is what I plan to do."