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AP: Buckhalter, Kalu trying to regain form in rookie camp


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Buckhalter, Kalu trying to regain form in rookie camp

By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer

May 26, 2005


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Correll Buckhalter said he surprised himself with how fluid he made his cuts. N.D. Kalu said he could hardly sleep, he was so happy about a return to the field. Shawn Andrews wants to pick up where his rookie season started -- so full of promise and in the starting lineup.

For these three Eagles, along with fullback Jon Ritchie, Wednesday's rookie training camp was a chance to show they are recovered from injuries that cost them a shot at playing in the Super Bowl.

``Man, I'm ready to play a game,'' Buckhalter said. ``I can cut, jump, do whatever you want me to do. I've got my explosion because I'm lean right now.''

Perhaps no injured Eagle has as much to prove as Buckhalter, who is coming off his second season-ending knee injury in three years.

``I'm a survivor,'' Buckhalter said.

Buckhalter, who tore the patella tendon in his right knee in a preseason game against Baltimore, has already missed two full seasons. He insisted that rehab was easier the second time around because he knew what to expect, even offering advice to Ritchie.

``The best way to approach it is kind of not to think about it,'' Buckhalter said. ``I went out there like I never hurt it. That's why I was so fluid and so quick because I didn't think about it.''

Buckhalter, the Eagles' fourth-round draft choice out of Nebraska in 2001, was part of a three-back attack that included the now-departed Duce Staley and restricted free agent Brian Westbrook.

Westbrook is still around, and a few stalls down in the Eagles' locker room is rookie Ryan Moats, who provides insurance for the Eagles and was the Western Athletic Conference player of the year at Louisiana Tech.

Buckhalter said he wasn't worried about Moats taking his spot.

``I'm just worried and concerned about what I can do out there on the field,'' Buckhalter said. ``I just want to get out there and show those guys I'm ready to perform.''

Andrews also was excited about getting back on the field after playing all of about two quarters before his season abruptly ended with a broken leg.

Andrews, selected with the 16th overall pick in the draft, earned a starting spot out of training camp and was in the lineup at right guard for the opener against New York. He was injured on a routine block on a running play late in the second quarter. His teammates began yelling at Andrews to get up, but the rookie knew he couldn't make it to his feet.

``Once the surgery was done and everything lined up great, I knew I was going to be a great healer,'' he said. ``It's been good so far.''

Andrews still watches the replay of his injury a couple of times a week to figure out exactly what happened. He knows that the true test will come when the Eagles put on the pads and play a game.

``I'm able to walk again, I'm able to run again and I can actually say I feel like the old Shawn again,'' he said.

Forget old. Kalu said he felt like a rookie, so excited and nervous about his return that he had trouble sleeping. Kalu missed all of last season on a freak accident, filling in for a winded member of the third-team defense when he hurt his knee in a non-contact drill.

Kalu was coming off a 2003 season in which he started all 16 games and recorded career highs with 74 tackles and three fumble recoveries, had 5 1/2 sacks and also scored his first career touchdown.

While the camp was mostly for rookies, Kalu knew he needed to come to work himself back into game shape.

``I know I need this camp and the next camp so I can knock the rust off and go into training camp at full speed,'' he said. ``Tomorrow, I'm going to think less about my knee, the next day I'm going to think even less and hopefully by the time we go to training camp it won't even be a thought in my mind.''

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If Buckhalter is healthy, he can be a scary guy...though I think a Westbrook kind of runner poses more problems for our D.

One knee injury for a runner is tough enough, two makes a full recovery even tougher. Time will tell for Buckhalter.

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