BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The first three days of Eagles training camp at Lehigh University represent an opportunity for some unheralded players to impress the coaching staff before the stars and the other starters push them to the sidelines.
Free agent wide receiver Anthony "Tiger" Jones caught their attention during Monday's practices, taking another step toward realizing a dream that seemed virtually impossible just a few days ago.
When the Eagles called to offer him an invitation to training camp late last week, he was just coming off the practice field for the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. Jones played in 16 regular-season games, catching 133 passes for 2,010 yards and 47 touchdowns and was named the AFL's Wide Receiver of the Year.
The Soul won the Eastern Division with a 15-3 record and own home-field advantage throughout the upcoming playoffs.
"This is a little bittersweet for me," Jones said Monday. "I had built a comraderie with my (Soul) teammates and to leave right before the playoffs is tough. But everyone agreed that this was a great opportunity that I couldn't pass up."
Jones is not a typical rookie free agent. At 30 years old, he is seven years removed from his college days at the University of Louisville. His previous NFL experience consisted of a brief appearance in Washington's preseason minicamp in 2005.
The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder was signed and cut by the Canadian Football League's British Columbia Lions in 2006, then headed indoors and bounced around via stints with the Louisville Fire of the now-defunct Arena League 2, then moved to the AFL to play for the Georgia Force (2008), Milwaukee Iron (2009), Dallas Vigilantes (2011) and the Soul.
The Soul's ownership group includes former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, who recently purchased Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Galloway Township.
"'Jaws' is a big part of the organization," Jones said. "He's at practice all the time and he's at all the games, screaming at the refs and stuff. And anytime he sees a guy who he thinks can make the transition to the NFL, he tries to make it happen. I was having a pretty good year and he got this opportunity for me."
EXTRA POINTS: First-round draft pick Fletcher Cox worked at both defensive tackle and defensive end. ... Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was impressed with the young running backs, saying "every one of our backs can play in the National Football League" ... Newly acquired DT Ollie Ogbu cannot practice until CB D.J. Johnson passes his physical with Indianapolis. ... Eagles DE Trent Cole revealed on Twitter Monday that he received two speeding tickets totaling $348 in a two-minute span. He was driving to catch a flight to Philadelphia. ... The Eagles worked out former NFL punters Brad Maynard, Mat McBriar, Chris Bryan and Jason Baker Monday.