Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Here you go…

1:09 - Being a football player is a strange profession. Michael Vick is a grown 32-year-old man. Yet, when he’s at work, he still has to announce when he is going to the bathroom.

“Hey Bill,” Vick says, getting the attention of quarterbacks coach Billy Lazor, before pointing to the port-a-potty on the side of the field.

Quarterbacks and wide receivers start off together. The receivers are running 20-yard comeback routes, while the QBs are throwing on the move. The key, as offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur explains, is to sell the idea that they’re going deep to the defensive backs so that they create some space.

Love how Riley Cooper gets himself pumped during practice. “Oooh, stop on a dime,” he says to himself as he, well, stops on a dime and comes back for the football.

One thing I’ve noticed Nick Foles work on is using his eyes to look off defenders. Obviously, this is something that’s a lot more difficult when you’re going up against a real defense, but the second-year player is trying to work on the finer details of the position.

Next up is work against the blitz. Everyone lines up as a slot receiver. This is the same drill as yesterday. The slot corner blitzes, and the QB has to get rid of the ball quickly. “As fast as you can!” shouts Lazor.

He then informs the receivers that they’re going up against a simulated Cover-3. Receivers are running posts, and the details are explained thoroughly: Go 15 yards, and then break inside at a 25-degree angle.

And finally, more work against the blitz. This time, receivers are running shallow crossers. “Sense of urgency when you feel pressure,” says wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. Normally, QBs are taught to avoid bad habits. But here, they are actually practicing throwing off their back foot against pressure.

1:19 – I’m really tired of mentioning the five quarterbacks/five wide receivers drill, so I tried to shoot some video. The quality was horrible. Not just horrible, but unusable. I’ll try again tomorrow. Sorry.

1:30 – We move to the other practice field. I’ll warn you now: It’s tougher to see over here.

1:37 – Foles gets the start with the ones. On defense, it looks like Bradley Fletcher at left cornerback and Cary Williams at right cornerback. It’s worth noting that they’ve each seen action on both sides.

1:43 – A teach period with the starting defensive line of Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon and Clifton Geathers. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis mentions the words “fire zone.” Remember, Davis started his NFL career with Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early ’90s. He said recently that those days had a big influence on him.

There are several variations of fire zone blitzes, but the basic idea is to rush five and drop six into coverage. The key is to disguise where the five rushers are coming from. It’ll be fun to see how Davis does that once the season starts.

Some of you asked about Cedric Thornton yesterday. He has a quad injury and is not practicing fully. The second team is Vinny Curry, Bennie Logan and David King.

Another sign that there’s an afternoon Phillies game: the Taxi Crab just drove by.

1:47 – Time for 11-on-11 team drills. Foles rolls with the ones again as Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy comes on. If I had to put one song on my “do not play” list, I think that would be it.

Again, we don’t want to put too much stock into the depth chart, but rookie Earl Wolff gets a few reps with the ones, alongside Patrick Chung. For most of practice (and most of the spring), it’s been Chung and Nate Allen. Undrafted free agent linebacker Jake Knott also gets some run with the twos in place of Jamar Chaney. Later, it’s back to Chaney and Jason Phillips.

1:58 – Big & Rich’s Comin’ To Your City comes on, which reminds me, I can’t wait to introduce my daughter to Saturday mornings at the Kapadia household in the fall. Coffee, eggs and the tremendous trio of Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso. She’ll be 11 months in September. I think that’s old enough to appreciate the tradition.

2:09 – Tough to see at the other end of the field during 7-on-7 drills, but I notice a Jeremy Maclin drop from Vick in the end zone. Vick later connects with DeSean Jackson for a score.

2:22 – Vick runs with the ones for the second consecutive drill (11-on-11s). This time, he’s picked off by Allen, looking for Brent Celek down the seam. Vick was intercepted once every 35.1 attempts last season.

Foles and Matt Barkley get their shots, but neither fares too well during this session either. Foles holds on to the ball too long on one play for a fake-sack, and Barkley has a screen attempt batted down at the line of scrimmage.

The running backs are doing a lot of rotating once again with the first team. Here, Chris Polk gets a shot.

Vick bounces back with a couple nice plays. On one, he runs a play-fake and then throws a strike to Celek in the middle of the field. And later, he finds Jackson for a bomb down the right sideline with Wiliams trailing.

2:33 – Kelly makes his way over to the defensive during the teach period. He looks bored. Mychal Kendricks comes over to say hello, and Kelly puts his arm around the linebacker.

I know it’s early for predictions, but I think Kendricks can have a really big year. By all accounts, he’s going to have fewer offensive linemen in his face in the new scheme. And he has the tools to be really good in coverage, matching up with tight ends and running backs.

2:37 – Made my way back to the bleachers since practice is nearly over. Now I really am having trouble seeing. But I can tell that Vick just got intercepted by Vinny Curry on a screen attempt. And Barkley had one of his nicer throws to Clay Harbor over the middle.

2:49 – Another practice in the books. We get one more on Thursday, and then no more sessions until training camp in late July.

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

    Reading the Billy Davis part about his influences just makes me wonder what Cleveland writers had to say early spring prior to last season. Everything looks (or reads) like gravy before the games are played. Love these rundowns though, cant get enough

    • theycallmerob

      To be slightly fair to Davis…check out who he went to battle with against us on opening day last year:
      http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2012/09/cleveland_browns_2012_mary_kay.html

      • Eagles4Life

        I thought he was only the LBs coach last year. Am I wrong?

        • theycallmerob

          No, you are correct, but I think their talent was still more depressing than our current situation. Davis needs flexible guys. Barwin has some experience doing that; Kendricks is hyped to have the requisite cover ability; and the big hope is Graham adjusts well to the switch and continues to perform. To name a few

      • eaglepete

        ya, wow rough there on D except at cornerback. Good link, thanks

  • Damien

    What do you mean by “Kelly looked bored”? Is that something worrisome?

    • sdk152

      No, that was just a joke because Kelly is an offensive guy. I will say he does seem to be giving Billy Davis autonomy over the defense. -SK

    • usmcnole

      I think sk was implying he looked bored because he was over by the defense

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    You’ve got to have the driest sense of humor on the planet. I can appreciate that in a man. lol

  • Jack Waggoner

    Sheil,

    I think a version of the video you are trying to film was done by Jimmy Kempski recently

  • cliff henny

    maybe Vick’s like Red (monologue bagging groceries) in Shawshank Redemption, he has to ask permission before he can go

    • jshort

      Yea, he can hardly squeeze a drop without asking. Must come with doing time.

  • Shark

    Sheil, you’re reporting is absolutely amazing, every article. Keep it up

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    Sheil,

    I will say this – you give the most unbiased reporting – particularly regarding the QBs – than anyone. If you have a favorite I wouldn’t know and you give report on each one’s success and failure equally – with no filler (or very little filler). I appreciate that a great deal – it’s why I followed you over hear from Philly.com.

    • BrettConnolly

      from the site that shan’t be named…

  • dan

    http://pondscumsports.blogspot.com/2013/04/grading-nfl-draft-grades.html
    Check out my new blog post… would love to get fellow Eagle fan’s opinions.

    • http://twitter.com/pjcostello Paul Costello

      Flagged for removal. Peddle your crap site elsewhere.

  • Scott J

    OMG! What am I going to do until July?!

    • jshort

      Keep checking this site, Tommy’s, the links…..this is a F’n disease, every freakin’ day. Always disappointed at the end of every iffin season. I’m nuts. What about you guys?

  • struts

    Sheil, your style of writing has a way of transforming simple observations into interesting titbits making the reader want more. I find myself coming on this site every so often specifically looking for your articles. Keep up the great work man.

  • Dr. Rick

    Something is broken. I can’t post as myself anymore for the last 3 days.

  • tyler

    KeeP Up The Great Work Sheil. You And Tmac Are The Best.

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    one more day..I don’t want it to end. thanks Sheil. awesome job!!

  • Dutch

    I like the Eagles are getting reps using common scenarios prone to take place that under pressure are referred to as grave mistakes.

    That makes sense and seems to be an all too simple a concept to improve an offense performance. Equally is the Foles look off that he’s going to have to master to break away from not being able to follow progressions. Last year defenders didn’t have to play their man all that was required with Foles in the game was playing his eyes to defend passes and pick offs.

    Attack the simple issues before they become bad habits. Kelly keeps things very simple.

    • MAC

      I think most rookie QB’s & 2nd yr QB’s should work on this skill early and often. In college they only have to give a slight look off bc many times WR have huge separation and the safeties for the most part don’t have the same recovery speed as NFL safeties. I still see many QB’s that are veterans that do not look off defense very well
      It does seem like something you would hear is worked on all the time by young QB’s. It’s rare to get a polished rookie like a Luck who has this skill coming into NFL. RG3 isn’t great at looking guys off yet, but the design of the offense with misdirection and play action makes that less of an issue.
      I am not a huge Foles fan at all, but I do like that we have been told and it seems he is very intelligent and can learn plays and pick up reading defenses quickly.I also think being intelligent helps him understand to work on the small things like looking of a guy. Most rookie QB’s tend to stare down there guys and it takes a few years to learn how to effectively influence a defense.
      Our 2 young QB’s do seem to both be intelligent and as a QB that is huge. I also think it’s big for young QB’s to learn to anticipate throws. Throw the ball to a spot before the WR comes out of his break. This is one of the biggest issues in my opinion that Vick has. He has tremendous arm strength so he gets away with it more, but he tends to wait until WR is open to throw the ball. I have heard Barkley has good anticipation so that is a plus along with his high football IQ.

  • Dominik

    Are there any assessments on the development of Kruger? Many people liked the pick and I read one scout arguing that he could have been a 3rd or even a 2nd round pick next year if he would have stayed at college for one more year. Very raw, but very talented, that was the predominant opinion on him.

    So yeah, he’s probably a long shot on the active roster, but should have chances to make it in the 53 man roster (since he probably has enough talent that there would be a team who picks him up from the PS). But I didn’t read anything about him yet. And apparently King is ahead of him in the depth chart, which doesn’t sound too good.

    Any chance of an opinion on him, Sheil?