The training room has become his home away from home. Jeremy Bloom knew there was going to be a price to pay in his transition from freestyle skiing to football, knew there would be some bumps on the road back to the sport he always has loved best. "I think he's tweaked every muscle in his leg so far,'' Eagles special-teams coach John Harbaugh said yesterday, that familiar smirk on his face. "Groin, hamstring, quad, ankle and Achilles'... I'm hoping to keep the calf out of it.'' As Harbaugh spoke, Bloom was undergoing an MRI. Later, after it came back negative, he resumed his return to football from a forced 2-year exodus, running in a pool, getting treatment. Maybe in a couple of days, he may even run around on the field again. Catch a punt or two. "I knew coming into this thing that there was going to be a transitional period,'' said the Eagles' fifth-round pick. "To come here a week after the draft and to go through these minicamps, and the number of repetitions going full tilt... It's just a matter of breaking myself down and building it back up again.''
Type in jeremybloom.com and you will enter a Web site that Terrell Owens can only dream about. There's seven, count 'em, seven major apparel companies with links on his site. Watch the video of him churning down a hill on his way to World Cup gold. Watch a video of him churning through Colorado State for a touchdown on one of his five college plays of 75 yards or more. There is a striking similarity. "Visually, to be able to react instantly to things like ice underneath, lights, things coming at you 25, 40 miles an hour,'' Bloom said. "There's definitely a parallel there with returning a football. But that's the only crossover. Physically they are very different. Just in the muscles you use, it's different.'' He runs a 4.2 40-yard dash, and, at 5-9, has both the cuts and balance of a man trained to dart in the straightest line possible between icy mounds of snow - tossing in a few jumps and flips for good measure.
"I'm in great physical shape,'' he said. "Just not in football shape yet.'' No big deal. Training camp is almost 2 months away. "He can be the starting returner,'' Harbaugh said. "Will he be is dependent on him. He's going to have to earn the job. He's going to have to be ready to be our guy.''