Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

You know the drill. Here’s another running diary from Eagles practice.

1:03 – I learned years ago that the first thing you do when covering an offseason NFL practice is scan the field to make sure the players expected to be in attendance are actually there.

That seems to be the case here. I see Nos. 71 (Jason Peters), 26 (Cary Williams) and 25 (LeSean McCoy). The Eagles announced that only three players are absent: Isaac Sopoaga (death in the family), Zach Ertz (NCAA graduation rule) and Jordan Poyer (NCAA graduation rule).

Three helicopters fly overhead. Given that the Eagles and Patriots are holding joint practices in August, I feel like I should make a Spygate joke, but I can’t think of anything.

The Jump-On-It song plays over the speakers. Jimmy Kempski and I discuss whether this is different from the Fresh Prince version or not. We decide that it is. It’s time like this I realize how important my job is. Not to sound conceited, but I really can’t think of anyone else contributing more to the greater good.

1:07 – Quarterbacks and wide receivers line up for a variety of routes, which has become customary during this portion of practice. Two QBs at a time, back-shoulder throws near the sidelines.

Then all the wide receivers line up in a single file in the slot. Jason Avant is up first. The drill is simple. Offensive quality control coach Press Taylor imitates the slot corner and comes on a blitz.  The quarterback has to make a quick decision and a quick throw. The wide receiver has to make sure he’s looking back for the ball on the hot route.

If you’re thinking Michael Vick, Antoine Winfield, a Tuesday night and a nation of wusses, well, you’ve got the idea.

1:12 – Next up are go-routes down the sideline. “Let him go get it,” instructs QBs coach Bill Lazor. The quarterbacks release the ball when the receivers are at the 20, but the catches are made near midfield.

Then it’s 10 to 12 yard outs, which are run directly to the part of the sideline where the cameramen (and women) are standing. Arrelious Benn nearly takes out one of them. Speaking of Benn, that guy is put together. I’m looking forward to seeing him with the pads on this summer. If there’s anything less than one skirmish a week between him and Williams, I’m going to be disappointed.

And finally, wide receiver screens. “You’ve got friends out here,” Harold Carmichael says to Russell Shepard. The point is simple: Get to the sideline where the blockers are.

1:17 – Five QBs, five wide receivers. We’ve explained this one before.

1:22 – A wrinkle we haven’t seen in the past. No quarterback is on the field, and no pass gets thrown. But it’s receivers and tight ends running their routes against defensive backs and linebackers.

The coaching is frantic. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur takes the simulated snap. Chip Kelly instructs Jeremy Maclin after his rep. Defensive backs coach John Lovett shouts out coverages. And defensive coordinator Billy Davis instructs outside linebacker Chris McCoy to stay square, rather than get vertical in coverage. All of this is happening at the same time.

1:31 – Now’s a good time to note that practice has slowed down a bit, and the music is definitely not as loud. It’s special-teams time, and Donnie Jones is hitting some bombs.

Want an example of how us bloggers take our jobs seriously? Kempski’s got the phone out and is measuring hang times.

1:37 – It’s 7-on-7 time. Vick starts out with the ones and threads a pass to Maclin right in front of Connor Barwin, who was dropping in coverage. I’m no arm strength expert, but it’s clear that Vick can make throws that no other QB on the team can make. I’m not saying that is going to earn him the job, but it’s noticeable.

For the first time all spring, Williams is lined up at cornerback with the ones, alongside Bradley Fletcher. Sorry, Curtis Marsh. Looks like your time as a starter may be over. Then again, it’s only June.

Vick holds on to the ball too long, and we hear the whistle. But it appears Maclin might be to blame as he points to himself jogging back to the line of scrimmage.

The Eagles seem to be rotating safeties more than any other position. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung have seen the most action with the ones.

Near the end of the drill, Maclin catches a bomb from Nick Foles that traveled about 50 yards in the air. Williams had good coverage, but Maclin made a nice adjustment on the ball, and Foles made a nice throw.

1:47 –  After a teach period, it’s offense vs. defense with Vick again running with the ones.

Sopoaga is out, so we have a starting defensive line of Clifton Geathers, Antonio Dixon and Fletcher Cox. The second team is David King, Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry.

And we have our biggest surprise of the day: The projected Eagles’ starting offensive line for Week 1 is on the field. Lane Johnson (RT), Todd Herremans (RG), Jason Kelce (C), Evan Mathis (LG) and Jason Peters (LT). Kelce is participating in the “team” portion of practice for the first time as he continues to rehab a torn ACL. And I didn’t think Mathis (ankle injury) would be back until training camp. But I was wrong.

Johnson, meanwhile, sticks at right tackle in place of Dennis Kelly. And Peters is back after dealing with a personal issue last week.

The second-team O-Line is Kelly, Danny Watkins, Dallas Reynolds, Allen Barbre and Ed Wang.

An interesting nickel look up front. Trent Cole at right defensive end with Barwin right next to him standing up. As we’ve discussed, expect Barwin to move around quite a bit in this defense. On the next play, he’s on the left side.

Mathis and Kelce get a breather after the first set of reps. Barbre and Reynolds replace them.

2:08 – After a special-teams session, it’s back to 7-on-7s. Foles runs with the ones this time. Fletcher lines up at left cornerback and makes a nice play on a ball near the sideline that was intended for Jackson.

2:22 – Following a teach period, Party Rock Anthem blares from the speakers, and McCoy tries to engage Carmichael in a Dosey Doe on the sideline. He doesn’t seem to be feeling it.

A lot of mixing and matching at running back with the first team today. Bryce Brown, Chris Polk and Felix Jones have all gotten reps with the starters, in addition to McCoy. Polk beats Mychal Kendricks, lays out but can’t make the catch on a pass from Foles.

A screen to Riley Cooper with Damaris Johnson blocking. Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

Vick fakes a WR screen and then hits Benn deep.

With the Eagles’ defense in nickel, one of the coaches yells, “Four down!” Barwin, Cole, Geathers and Cox all line up with their hands on the ground.

The whole “multiple” thing is beginning to make more sense.

2:37 – Pre-snap disguise is going to be a trademark of this defense. With three down linemen, Barwin, DeMeco Ryans and Kendricks dance around the line of scrimmage before the ball is snapped.

Meanwhile, Shepard seems to be lining up in a different spot on every play. He might be a player to watch this summer.

On another play, Vick throws behind Maclin on a deep crosser, and Williams breaks it up.

2:48 – That’s a wrap. Meet me back here at the same time Wednesday. Don’t forget, all three practices this week are open to the media.

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  • PaoliBulldog

    I’m tired just *reading* this story!

    • A Big Butt and a Smile


  • A Big Butt and a Smile

    I love you Sheil…I’d ask for your had in marriage if you weren’t already married. You are married right? :-)

    • Richard Colton

      24/7 isn’t a cure for Eagles addiction. it’s methadone.

      • theycallmerob

        You mean MethodOne acting clinic?

      • Michael Myers

        next best thing :)

      • A Big Butt and a Smile

        LOL. SOOOOO TRUE!!!!

    • KSharp

      Never trust a big butt and a smile.

      • A Big Butt and a Smile

        SMH. Couldn’t help yourself could you…

  • theycallmerob

    Sheil, after your mention of Press Taylor, I asked the google gods more about him. I already knew him to be familiar with Vinny Curry, since they were teammates at Marshall, but it seems he has connections to another Eagles player as well:

    “With Taylor’s assistance, Tulsa captured the 2012 Conference USA
    championship after finishing the regular season with a 10-3 record.
    Under the direction of Taylor, senior quarterback G.J. Kinne threw for
    over 3,000 yards with 28 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions in 2011.”

    Forget Barkley! Where can I order my Kinne jersey? It’s in the cards.

  • Dutch

    David King is a name I’ve not heard a great deal of in these post. Second Team is pretty impressive. Shepard seems to be turning a few heads. Sheil may he become a surprise this summer? The challenge is obviously getting the defense all on the same page.

    When the pads go on this should be an explosive camp because each man hold his own destiny.

  • Michael Myers

    Three helicopters fly overhead. Given that the Eagles and Patriots are holding joint practices in August, I feel like I should make a Spygate joke, but I can’t think of anything.

    …you just did, sheil…

  • Beotch

    Keep on pushing Vick

  • Adam

    Never wished a summer away but hot dang, I can’t wait until September.

  • Adam

    Little off topic, but I love to see the fact that all our draft picks are stepping up, and getting good chances. One of the bi-products of our poor drafting is that you don’t get any home grown “Philly guys”, the guys who end up being the heart and soul of your team. Very seldom does a free agent come in and take up the flag, it’s just not the same. They’re like mercenaries.

    Leadership and accountability can be as important as talent. You can have all the talent in the world, but when things start going bad and you’ve got no one to answer to, it just get worst. We’ve witnessed that the past few years.

  • Damien

    Love hearing the OLine is back, rookies are playing well, Shepard looks good, and especially that Cary Williams is making plays. He must know, if he plays well, we’ll all forget about missing practice.

  • AtLeastIt’sNotBradGoebel

    Why was Cedric Thornton off the 1st and 2nd team defensive line? Was he absent? Demoted fairly far down the depth chart?

    • S.Paxson

      Can someone answer this question? been wondering the same thing since yesterday.

      SalPal had some interesting Theories. He talked about how the 3 most indispensable Eagles are, Peters, Shady and Cary mentioning how those 3 guys missed the most OTAs, and Sal wondered if it was the veterans ways of telling Chip to slow it down a little.

      Also, he gave his thought on the story McManus broke about Desean and the depth chart. Sal mentioned how Kelce told him this is a TE offense and that on most pass plays we send 4 WR/TE and a running back out to make plays in the passing game, and most of the time we are in Shotgun. Chip wants 4 of the most versatile players out on the field who can do different things in the passing game, as well as block, and Desean is very limited in what he can do. This is a situation to keep an eye on.

      Sal had interesting views about yesterday’s camp on the fanatic. Its worth a listen.

      Richard Colton: We debated the Cary Williams situation, and I didn’t think it was a big deal to the players. however, Sal seems to think that Teamates and coaches were pissed about Cary missing so much. If that is the case, then I have to re-evaluate my stance on the matter

      • Richard Colton

        Sal’s a guy I trust Pax. Like I said, I’m not “sharpening my pitchfork” (good turn of phrase by you) for Peters or any of the other guys. I just didn’t think Cary’s excuses would go over well with CK or the team.

        Best case scenario – he’s just one of those flaky guys who doesn’t mesh with the team, but whom they can always count on come game day. If the rest of the leaders are strong enough, it can be overcome. My favorite example is the Bulls w/ Rodman.

        • S.Paxson

          Very nice example

  • rick

    Sheil your subconscious is screaming between the lines of every QB play description you right. Vick has been in the NFL for 11 or 12 years. I agree he makes passes no on else can make but he makes more passes that no one on this team would ever and I mean ever woukd or should make/ add in his fumbling and miscaluations and that is what you have. Accepting the insanity definition is the only way I want Vick starting.

    • sdk152

      Rick, with all due respect, I think it’s more the readers seeing what they want to see. I pointed out both positives and negatives with Vick and Foles. My only rule with these observations: Write what I see. It honestly doesn’t affect me one way or another who the starting QB is. And I don’t think that decision is going to be made until late-August anyway.

      Thanks for reading. -SK

      • DunedinEagle

        Enjoy reading your wonderfully comprehensive and detailed blog Sheil but your attempts at humor? Let’s just say they fall juuusssst a tad short. And your analysis of how well Benn is “put together” created just a tiny little blip on the old Gaydar. Just saying…

      • Warhound

        Thanks for the reporting!

      • Rick H

        Fair enough Sheil! That is a sincere honest answer. Maybe I am reading into things that are not there. Additionally I want to point out that I am not a guy that dislikes Vick personally. I actually admire him for what he has done with his life (the turnaround) but I question his reading of defenses and understanding progressions but not his heart or will to win. I like Foles but don’t know how much until I see him play this year with a complete offense. Barkley is the real wild card. He appears to be the perfect fit for the future but you just don’t know until they play a meaningful game in the NFL.

      • Curly Q

        Hello Sheil, is there any chance you can give us a little update on Momah. I think someone said that he looked slow during pratcice, is that accurate. We desperately need a big target in the end zone and I was hoping that it would be Him. thanks.

    • Andy124

      If it makes you feel any better, JimmyK talked up Foles after yesterday’s practice over at blogging the beast.

      • A Big Butt and a Smile

        And JimmyK didn’t mention Vick at all – like he’s not even in the competition. Says a lot about Jimmy K.

  • rick

    I am convinced Vick does not have the inherent mental ability to do what Kelly wants. He has played by the motto ” I will win it by myself if I have to”. He simply is way to far ibto

    • Joe Jones

      Well, as an Eagles fan. I sure hope Chip Kelly is able to figure out what most of the “fans” on this board have already figured out. Vick is dumb, turnover prone and totally stinks. Didnt Chip watch the film from 2011-12? Turnover machine, right?

      I really hope that Chip finds time to read these message boards, cause obviously, being around Vick in meetings and on the field hasnt convinced him of what is so apparent and obvious to most “fans.”

      I really dont understand. If Vick is so dumb and as bad as most say and Foles shows so much potential, what is taking Chip Kelly so long to figure this out? Oh well, hopefully Chip will come to his senses soon.

      • Richard Colton

        It’s really easy to win a sarcastic hypothetical argument with yourself when you get to play both sides, isn’t it? What the heck, I’ll vote you up for the effort.

        • Joe Jones

          Thanks. Maybe you can clear it up….. Lets recap….Vick sucks, Foles is smart and accurate. Got it? Those are the facts of the case…….So, again…. Why is Vick here? Doesnt Chip know he cant read defenses…he’s a turnover machine….what did the “fan” say, “he lacks the inherent mental ability” to do what Kelly wants.

          Given that overwhelming sentiment, why is Kelly even holding a competition? How did it get this far? Why was Vick resigned even at a reduced rate? I’ve read thru thousands of comments and its clear to me, that according to the majority of the fans, Vick sucks and Foles shows promise. I dont necessarily see it that way.

          • Richard Colton

            That’s how you perceive the other side’s argument. It’s this crazy moral superiority you claim simply by supporting Vick.

            I don’t think Vick should be the QB, but I don’t think he’s “dumb” or “lacks the inherent mental ability.” I just think that for all his talents, he never lived up to the impossible billing, that he never broke some of the bad habits he developed early in his career, and that we’ve seen the best. The best was a mirage. I want to see what we have in Foles and/or Barkley so I’ll know if we need to draft a QB in 2014. I think my case against Vick is more common among Eagles fans than the one you think the anti-Vick crowd holds.

          • Joe Jones

            Fair enough. Whenever any conversation regarding the QB ensues, I read over and over again, about Vick’s shortcomings. And some are valid, most undeniably, turnover prone and injury prone…..those shouldnt really be subject to debate. However, I quoted a recent post that reflects much of the sentiment of the fanbase.

            “crazy moral superiority?” I have no idea where that comes from. I get tired of people calling someone they’ve never met, dumb and too stupid to be a quarterback. And I simply asked, rhetorically, if “Vick is so bad and so incapable, why hasnt Chip Kelly recognized that, why bother bringing him back in the first place?”

            I read your argument for Foles/Barkley. My personal opinion of Foles is not as enthusiastic as most. Barkley? I dont know but as a fan of the team, I hope he is our future QB. As far as delaying the inevitable, I dont think management, coaches or players view it that way. They all have a responsibility to win now!!! And if Chip Kelly thinks Michael Vick gives the team the best chance to win in 2013, I hope he plays Michael. If he deems that Foles of Barkley give us the best chance to be successful, then I expect one of them to start and I will be cool with it. I’m a fan of the team, not any individual player over the team.

          • Richard Colton

            Win now vs/win later is a completely acceptable disagreement. My last Philly championship was 1983. I was four, so that parade sucked for me. So anything that isn’t aimed at a championship doesn’t interest me.

            The moral superiority thing is this: (And only you can answer this question for yourself). Are you maybe reading too much into why people don’t like Vick? I’m recalling a conversation you and I had pre-draft when you made a similar argument. That somehow anyone’s questioning of Vick’s ability to read a defense or quick decision making automatically made them…you know…

          • Joe Jones

            Not going there….not suggesting anything like that. I know lots of people(myself included) are tired of Vick because of the red zone turnovers….they made me sick.

            But because he turns the ball over too much, I dont infer that he’s dumb. RG3 threw 5 interceptions in 393 pass attempts. Nick Foles threw 5 INTs in 265 pass attempts. He had 8 fumbles(5 lost) in 6 games….thats way too many. Is Nick dumb? Nope, according to the posters here, one of Nick’s best attributes is his intelligence and pocket presence. Of course, those are subjective assumptions that are not supported by the stats(acknowledging that the O line sucked).

            I know thats a different conversation… I dont hate Nick. I root for him. If Chip decides he’s the man….cool with me. But Nick had issues with ball security too….and I dont want to hear about being a rookie cause I just compared his performance to another rookie.

            And yes, I want a championship team. If you go to the eagles home page and there’s an interview with QB coach Bill Lazor. When asked about determining the starting QB, I loved his response….he said(I paraphrase), “we aspire to developing championship QB play…thats the goal, not just determining a starter. Getting our quarterbacks to play at a championship level.”

            I was like, wow…thats what I wanna hear. Most would probably say that doesnt bode well for Vick…maybe not. I dont care about Vick or no Vick, I care about what Coach Lazor said, getting championship QB play.

          • Richard Colton

            I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I’m torn between Foles/Barkley/Dixon/NOTA. The reason I’m rooting against Vick is the age and fool’s gold factor.

            Fool’s Gold: how many times have we heard the “its a new Mike Vick” argument? He’s finally become a pocket passer…or…This is the year he has a complete grasp of the WCO. Last year – I’m going to slide more and protect the ball. This year – Chip Kelly taught me to hold on to the ball.

            Age: he’s 33 and we’re in year one of the rebuild. Some professional athletes are able to maintain success into their mid 30s. Other than Barry Bonds, I can’t think of one who got better.

          • cliff henny

            the best arguement i heard for vick is: shut your eyes, score is 31-27 dallas 2mins left in week 17, we’re 9-6, nfc title on the line, (no injuries-perfect world) who do you want playing qb? which guy do you think today has a better chance of us being in that position? my answer is vick. and that goes against every personal feelings i have for the guy

          • Richard Colton

            For one game? Right now? Yeah, my answer would be Vick as well. I still don’t think it gets us closer to Lombardi though.

          • cliff henny

            that’s why i am for Vick, i dont see any of the 3 as long term winning SB for eagles. vick 25, maybe. foles/barkley-dutch is tool about foles, but does make valid points. think kid deserves shot, but think his ceiling is kyle orton-esque, not that there’s anything wrong with that (insert Seinfeld joke). smart kid, could be a good back-up. our future, hang your hopes on SB is playing saturday, sounds like in L-Ville, Oregon, T A&M or god forbid Clemson (i think boyd is way over-rated). so i’m only looking at in the scenerio above. Vick would have to play insane to get shot in ’14. even if foles beats out vick, i dont see him doing enough for us not to pick qb. could he lead us to 8-8, sure, i’m still getting kelly his picture perfect qb.

          • Richard Colton

            OK – now I see where you’re coming from. If you are 100% convinced that Foles isn’t the answer either, then yes. I’m a little more hopeful about Foles and Barkley than you are.

          • cliff henny

            oh, i’m hopeful…shoot man, i’m an eagles fan, all i have is hope! if you asked me for odds,,,say foles becomes Orton 50%, rivers 10%(here, w/ good coaching in running for SB’s), brady 1/1m(but your saying there’s a chance)

          • Joe Jones

            The age point is sound logic….if we are in fact building a team with championship aspirations(and we’re not quite there yet, only in year 1), hard to justify building around a 33 yr old QB.

            I know this. I want to win every game this year and every year….no interest in “lets see what so and so can do…..” Now if “so and so” is the best player….step up and lets go.

    • Dutch

      Another Fan having a “Seeing what you want to see moment”…….. How much do you know about the read option in football that allows you to speculate the scheme requires some above average mental ability?

      It’s the most basic concept in football typically void of progression reads, one generally used and taught in pee wee football.

      How much football have you played that has left you believing the read option of zone blocking is a complex scheme?

  • Bebin Abraham

    I see Jimmy and his superiority complex is rubbing off on you sheil. RUN AWAY! :)

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    nice work Sheil. thanks

  • S.Paxson

    My understanding of the QB situation yesterday was that:

    Foles got more reps, because his drives once again were more successful than Vicks.

    In terms of Physical tools, Vick is the superior QB for this offense and it’s not even close. how that translates to his command of the offense, taking care of the ball while putting up points, a balance that Vick has always struggled to achieve remains to be seen. I really liked Vicks interview and demeanor yesterday. Hate to admit it, but I’m dying to see what Vick can do in camp and preseason.

    I am far from a Vick loyalist, but I really am excited to see what he can do. Foles is such an unknown that projecting our starting QB at this point in the process, is impossible. Which is why you won’t ever find myself engaging in the Foles vs. Vick debate. Foles was thrust into a situation where he had no chance for success last year. Considering the situation, I think the young man handled the situation admirably and showed moxxy that a real franchise QB needs to have, but Moxxy is not enough(see Tony Romo). Foles arm strength will be more then enough once his mechanics are on point, but there is just no way of telling if and when Nick can put it all together and become a QB that takes us to the promised land. For me, even if Nick can develope into a Romo type and have some success, it’s worthless. We need to win a SB in this next era of Eagledom(how you like that new word?) and there’s just no way of saying right now that Foles is def capable of that

    Finally, the report I read was that Barkleys arm strength problems were on display yesterday. “His passes outside the hash marks took forever to get there”…”Presnap Barkley looked really good. Post snap, not so much”-Sal PalAntonio. Sounds to me, like Barkley isn’t in the QB battle because he will need atleast a year to develope an NFL arm. But It’s not a lost cause IMO.

    • Warhound

      Thanks – solid comments!

    • Andy124

      “Foles got more reps, because his drives once again were more successful than Vicks.”

      Can you share where you read this? Always looking for more recaps. Thanks.

      • Wilbert31

        I’d like to know where this came from as well. I’m hopeful that its true…

        • S.Paxson

          My understand was that yesterday was Vicks turn to be number one on the depth chart, but because Foles sustained better drives towards the end of practice, he ended up with more snaps, on a day designed for Vick to get the most snaps. I think Mosher on twitter is where I got yesterday’s QB snap count, if I recall correctly. Sal Pal’s interview with Misanelli is very informative and it’s up on Philadelphia,, CSN Philly. Rotoworld gives you good league wide coverage

          • Andy124

            Cool. Looked up Mosher. He says Foles went 18-21 in 34 snaps, Vick went 19-24 in 35 snaps and Barkley went 7-11 in 13 snaps.

            That doesn’t appear to be broken out in to first team reps vs. second team reps though.

    • Wilbert31

      The “physical tools” are distributed all over the place in this offense (Shady, Casey, Ertz, Jackson, Maclin, etc). We don’t need them at the QB position. The QB just needs to get the ball to these guys at the right spot where they can use their “physical tools” to the greatest extent possible. If the QB with the physical tools is leading these skill players into dangerous situations and getting them hurt, it reduces their ability to succeed and their ability to play every week. It seems pretty simple that #7 will not be the starter for this team.

      • S.Paxon

        I never suggested that Physical tools would win this battle

        • Wilbert31

          I wasn’t suggesting you did. Just throwing my 2 cents in. good info, thx.

  • DunedinEagle

    Foles made a nice 50 yard throw. That’s all I need to know, he’s fixed his deep ball. Game Set Match.