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Sheppard: I'm a starter

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Greetings from Lehigh Valley on a spectacular Tuesday morning. I don't want to jinx it, but the absence of cloud cover and lightning suggests that I'll finally be able to observe a full practice. The plan is to watch this morning's session and then sit down with Eagles head coach Andy Reid for a few minutes. Most of you know that Reid is an open book, so prepare for a "colorful" entry.

On Monday, disgruntled cornerback Lito Sheppard was kind enough to drop by the NFC East set. In case you haven't met him, Sheppard's an exceedingly nice kid. In fact, he thinks his winning personality may have hurt him when it comes to negotiating a new contract.

"I was probably too lackadaisical with that stuff in the past," Sheppard said. "I just thought I could do my job and they would take care of me."

Oh, to be young and naive.

From the moment the Eagles offered former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel a lucrative free-agent contract, Sheppard's value with the team dropped significantly. The one thing the 27-year-old Sheppard can't dispute is that he's had trouble staying on the field because of injury.

"I look at it as a business decision on their part," Sheppard said of the Eagles. "They de-value you and try to break you down just so they don't have to pay you. They can say anything to make you look bad."

Sheppard's latest beef with the team involves a recent state-of-the-organization address by owner Jeffrey Lurie. After saying a few kind words, Lurie noted that Sheppard needed to improve his YPA. Don't know a YPA from a decent IPA? You're in good company. It's a statistic that numbers gurus have come up with to measure the average number of yards defensive backs allow when the ball is thrown in their direction. Sheppard, who had tried to stop talking about the situation, was flabbergasted by the salt-in-the-wound speech from Lurie.

"They're asking me to de-grade myself," he said, alluding to the fact that he's no longer starting. "My teammates and family know that."

In an effort to deflect some of the talk, the Eagles claimed that Sheppard and Sheldon Brown were co-starters at cornerback. It's a nice thought from one of the best P.R. staffs in the league, but at this point, it's only window dressing.

OK, I have to head to practice now. Anxious to see how fast DeSean Jackson looks in person and whether Samuel makes it through an entire practice. As of now, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson is indicating that Samuel will play in Thursday's preseason game.

After I talk to Reid, I'll be headed to Albany for the Giants' evening practice. What's my best route Bethlehem to Albany? Haven't looked at a map yet.

Oh, and Eagles fans should check out my Eagles Confidential column that will appear on the ESPN.com NFL page later today. Thanks for your continued support.