Eagles Practice Observations

Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher CoxFor first-round pick Fletcher Cox, this was just part of the learning process.

With the Eagles in full pads for the first time this summer, Cox participated in one-on-one drills against the offensive linemen. On one rep, last year’s first-round pick, Danny Watkins, stood his ground and got the better of Cox.

Jim Washburn immediately turned his attention to the next defensive lineman up. But Cullen Jenkins, an eight-year veteran, decided it was time to give the rookie some pointers, taking him aside and offering up some instruction.

“He gave me a lot of advice, just telling me the small things,” Cox said. “Like one-on-one pass rush, he told me to try something different, just don’t get comfortable with one thing. Use my ability, which is long arms.”

Cox, whose arm length measured 34 1/2 inches at the combine, will be expected to contribute right away as a rookie. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he has one of the leaders on the Eagles’ defense in his ear, helping him out.

Other practice observations:

* One more note on Cox. When the Eagles lined up the first-team offense vs. the first-team defense, Jenkins ran out onto the field at his usual spot at defensive tackle. But Washburn wanted the rookie to get some work, putting Cox in instead. The first play was an incompletion to Jeremy Maclin, but that didn’t stop the defensive line coach from riding the rookie, yelling at Cox to finish the play and turn and run downfield.

* Want proof that the Eagles believe DeMeco Ryans is a three-down player? When they went into their dime package, he was the lone linebacker on the field.

* Jenkins saw a fair amount of snaps at defensive end and notched a sack of his own.

* I had a flashback today of what Brandon Graham looked like as a rookie up here, making plays on a daily basis. Today, Graham saw some time with the first team at left defensive end after Jason Babin went down. He notched a sack, getting to the quarterback on a play-action pass during 11-on-11s.

* Want to know why Jason Avant is one of the most well-liked and well-respected players in the Eagles’ locker room? After Riley Cooper went down, he jogged 50 yards downfield to see if the wide receiver was ok.

* I’m trying to make sure I remember that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did not live up to expectations last year, but he had a tremendous day, consistently using his speed to break on the ball and force incompletions. On one play, he did a good job on DeSean Jackson on a pattern towards the middle of the field. On a Mike Kafka throw to Jackson, Rodgers-Cromartie came up with an interception. It looked like Maclin had a step on him deep, but Rodgers-Cromartie made a great play on the ball to break up the Vick pass. Just a really good day all around from the Eagles’ starting left cornerback.

* Damaris Johnson continues to impress. Earlier this week, Andy Reid said he’d be used as the primary punt returner for now. Johnson successfully got off press coverage vs. Curtis Marsh and made a very nice catch on a low pass. Later, during 11-on-11s, Johnson picked up a huge chunk of yardage on an end around. It’s still early, but the undrafted free agent seems capable of filling a variety of roles. If you made me turn in my 53-man roster projection right now, I’d have him making the team.

* Sticking with the wide receivers, Jackson is making a lot of catches on intermediate routes near the sidelines. And rookie wide receiver Marvin McNutt did a good job of using his size, catching a ball from Vick while matched up against Joselio Hanson.

* The first-team offensive line is what you’d expect. If you’re wondering about the depth chart, though, here’s the second team from left tackle to right tackle: King Dunlap, Julian Vandervelde, Dallas Reynolds, Mike Gibson and Dennis Kelly.

* With Brent Celek not practicing, Brett Brackett mixed in with Clay Harbor and the first-team offense.

* Rookie running back Bryce Brown earned compliments from both Bobby April and Duce Staley for his blocking on the kickoff return team.

* I can confirm that Mike Mayock and Greg Cosell do more than just watch tape. The two analysts (both among the best in the business) were on the sideline today, watching practice.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

  • Good Lookin ouT

    That O line looked the part of Smash Mouth ready. I thought the second unit gave a pretty decent accounting of themselves. Both units were opening holes for Shady and Dion Lewis to gash the Eagles defense.

  • MikeM

    Way to go Danny Watkins! Obviously, all Birds fans want Cox to be a beast, but the silver lining of that story is Watkins holding his ground 2 out of 3 times against a raw, physical talent like Fletcher Cox. Very encouraging!

  • Run Eagles Run

    Good stuff here. Cant wait for the first preseason game. football!