Three Takeaways: Curry, Kiko And Right Guard

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

The Eagles got in a swift practice Saturday in preparation for their exhibition opener against the Colts. Afterwards, the media had a chance to sit down with the Eagles assistant coaches for an hour. We’ll be pulling from that session quite a bit in the days ahead, but here are a few things that stood out:

1) Vinny Curry continues to get reps at outside linebacker. Chip Kelly revealed in June that the four-year vet was getting some looks on the outside. That experiment continues. And with Travis Long lost for the season, it seems that the odds of him actually being deployed there in a game have gone up.

“Vinny’s done a great job. Vinny has a lot of plusses to him,” said outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern. “He’s obviously great at going at the quarterback. All those guys are really valuable in that sense…We’ve had him some at outside linebacker, we’ve had him some at d-line. The more they can do, the more valuable they become.”

Added Jerry Azzinaro: “We kind of rotate people all through that thing, and I think Vinny has demonstrated…that he has the ability to rush the quarterback on pass downs, and we’re just trying to give him opportunities at different spots to rush the quarterback so you don’t know where he is.” Read more »

Bradford Disappointed That He Didn’t Get Green Light

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Sam Bradford made it clear that his preference was to play against the Colts. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he noted how Jeff Fisher‘s decision to sit him in the preseason opener last year only increased the number of butterflies in his gut.

“I think it’d just make me more anxious for the second game,” said Bradford, speaking from experience.

Chip Kelly, though, has decided that the best course of action is to hold off and have Bradford make his debut next week against Baltimore.

“It’s a coach’s decision. Obviously I wanted to be out there, I was preparing to be out there, but this morning [Kelly] sat down and explained it to me. It’s up to him. I’ll be ready to roll next week, get out there and play against the Ravens,” said Bradford.
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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Agholor Flips Into Different Mode

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

The smile that he flashed so regularly during his first few weeks as an Eagle hasn’t surfaced much of late — at least during business hours. Nelson Agholor‘s demeanor has changed. He’s more serious now, and as he walks off the field and stops to talk with reporters in front of the NovaCare entrance, you get the feeling that he is not altogether happy with himself.

“I wish I was making less mental errors,” he said, adding that his focus needs to improve. There have been a few miscues along the way — like when he dropped a perfectly-placed pass from Tim Tebow Wednesday — but he’s also had his share of standout moments and highlight-reel catches. Overall, the rookie has shown well during training camp to date.

Currently, it’s the imperfections that he appears focused on. Read more »

Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during Thursday’s training session at the NovaCare Complex.

11:51 – Some pretty significant names on the non-practice list today. Kiko Alonso, Zach Ertz, DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and DeMarco Murray are all sidelined. Same for Earl Wolff and Bryan Braman. Murray has missed several practices now and has had a light workload overall. 

Malcolm Jenkins decides to have some fun. He runs off the field and into a nearby fan tent to grab a white folding chair, which he brings back and jokingly offers to Murray (with Kendricks standing nearby).

“We have a lot of guys that for whatever reason take a little day off, so I just wanted to make sure they had a nice little seat, a place in the shade while we’re all working out here,” Jenkins said afterwards with a smile.

Murray did not take Jenkins up on the offer, and there that chair sat, alone, for the duration of practice.

chair Read more »

Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during Wednesday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex.

11:47 –  A couple notes at the top. DeMeco Ryans has the day off. He’s out here in shorts and a jersey. Still no sign of Kiko Alonso. DeMarco Murray, Mychal Kendricks and Zach Ertz work with the trainers during a portion of the individual drills. Of those three, only Kendricks sits out the team portion of practice. Middle linebacker is a loaded position, but it’s going to be thin today.

11:50 — Cody Parkey is off target on a few of his field goal tries, including one that knuckles well low and left. Tucker seems concerned. Not Jimmy Kempski, though. The lover of all things special teams is standing directly behind the end zone, eating Rita’s Water Ice with a giant smile on his face as the Parkey tries sail over his head. Pretty sure he’s in his heaven.

12:00 – This is a fun tackling drill where the players dive and attack the dummy alligator-style. Notice Earl Wolff goes back to the mat after his turn to pick something up. What could he have dropped? Mouthpiece? Car keys? Also, I like how Najee Goode slams the dummy down for good measure towards the end. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Opportunity For Rowe, Watkins

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Eric Rowe called the experience of playing nickel Tuesday “a little mind-blowing.” For all the moving around he did at the University of Utah (he was a safety and corner there), this was a new vantage point for him.

“You do have to train your eyes differently because you are in the mix of stuff instead of being outside on an island. Run plays are more involved,” he said. “On a pass play, sometimes you’ve gotta get your eyes on the quarterback, sometimes you’ve gotta get your eyes on a receiver. Corner, you always get your eyes on a receiver. So it is a different mindset.”

Rowe didn’t get much of a heads up that he’d be moving inside. According to the second-round pick, defensive backs coach Cory Undlin delivered the news via text message just hours before practice. Rowe wasn’t mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Brandon Boykin inside when the trade initially went down, but his name surfaced  on Tuesday when asked what the plan was for slot corner now that JaCorey Shepherd has been lost to an ACL tear. Kelly said the plan was to test Rowe in the slot all along. Read more »

Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during Tuesday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex.

11:52 – Gone are the days when the Eagles were hard up for a return man. Today’s session opens with punt return drills and there is a full stable of quality options back there, led by Darren Sproles and Nelson Agholor. (Jordan Matthews is out there, too, though I’m not sure Chip Kelly will want to go down that road when the bullets are live.) On kick return, the group includes Agholor, Ryan Mathews and Josh Huff. It looks like Kelly has some pretty serious firepower on special teams, which as we know is no accident. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Farewell, Sheil; And Welcome, Josh

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Look at Sheil getting right in there and shaking it up with Sammy B. Good body language, solid eye contact. The hand grab is a little awkward but I think that’s mostly because of Bradford’s large mitts. No wonder he’s able to spin it like he does.

Put this photo in the archives. Dig it out in a decade or so, and I think it will show a young star journalist on the verge of capturing all the success that is rightfully his.
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MRI Reveals Torn ACL For JaCorey Shepherd

JaCorey Shepherd (Jeff Fusco)

JaCorey Shepherd (Jeff Fusco)

An MRI Monday morning revealed that rookie cornerback JaCorey Shepherd tore the ACL in his right knee.

Shepherd collided with Darren Sproles on the far sideline during practice at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday after the running back made a catch and turned up field. He stayed down after the play and was attended to by the Eagles training staff before gingerly walking to a nearby cart that took him back to the training room.

“We were on the sideline, then I kind of braced myself and I heard him hollering,” Sproles said. “But I don’t know what happened…I don’t know if his foot got caught, or what.”

The sixth-round pick out of Kansas was competing for the nickel spot — a job that opened when Brandon Boykin was dealt to Pittsburgh for a conditional fifth-round pick. Jaylen Watkins was working with the first team Sunday. E.J. Biggers has been rotating in with the ones as well. They will be two of the top candidates to fill the role.

“We’re going to run everyone through there, to be honest with you,” Chip Kelly said prior to the injury. “We have so many training sessions between now and when we play against the Falcons, we’ll get enough reps [to determine] who will be the nickel at that time, there’s a lot of candidates. [Walter Thurmond] will stay at safety right now, you won’t see him at nickel. JaCorey Shepherd will be in there, you’ll see [Jaylen] Watkins in there, E.J. Biggers has played in there so we’ll mix and match and try to get as many reps as we possibly can for those guys.”

Faith in the young defensive back corps — a group that includes Watkins, Eric Rowe, Denzel Rice, Randall Evans and of course Shepherd — factored into the team’s decision to part ways with Boykin. Shepherd was considered by some to be the favorite to assume Boykin’s role. Now that he’s down, Kelly will need someone else to answer the call.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly And the ‘SIW’

Eagles Cornerback Brandon Boykin facing the field

Chip Kelly calls them self-inflicted wounds, or SIWs. It refers to preventable actions (turnovers, penalties, drops, etc.) that make it more difficult to achieve your objective.

That was the term that came to mind Sunday afternoon while pondering the state of the nickel position/secondary after JaCorey Shepherd went down. An MRI today will reveal the severity of the right knee injury. According to Les Bowen, they are checking to see if the rookie out of Kansas tore his ACL. We’ll wait to see just how long the Eagles will be without Shepherd’s services. At the very least, this is a scare that forces you to examine the depth. At worst, the news that is coming down will put that depth to the test. Read more »

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