Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Here you go…

12:26 – Let’s start with who’s here and who’s not. Arrelious Benn has dealt with a knee issue, but he’s back in pads. So is Jason Peters (hamstring) and Bradley Fletcher. Backup tackles Dennis Kelly and Ed Wang are not practicing. Neither is Zach Ertz (shoulder).

12:34 – Before the stretching period, the offense and defense work on pre-snap motions and shifts. They do A LOT of this.

It looks like Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton are going with the Chance Warmack expose-your-belly look with their jerseys. Or, as Larry David refers to it, the bare midriff:

By the way, after having watched Jim Washburn for two years and now Jerry Azzinaro, I’m convinced you have to be a little crazy to be a defensive line coach. During stretches, Azzinaro gives David King a light, playful head-butt. Azzinaro is not wearing a helmet. King is. The last time I remember seeing such a thing was when Juan Castillo head-butted Keenan Clayton at camp a couple summers ago. His was neither light, nor playful. Oh, and it drew blood.

Maybe I should just say you have to be a little crazy to be an NFL coach, period.

12:44 – Individual drills. Here are the defensive backs. Kurt Coleman and Patrick Chung coming right into your living room…

And here are the outside linebackers. They drop to a certain spot, look back at the quarterback and then break towards the ball.

1:01 – During 3-on-2 drills, Trent Cole finds himself lined up opposite Damaris Johnson. He gets a decent bump on the 5-8 wide receiver. That might be Cole’s best strategy in these situations: just knock the receiver to the ground.

Brandon Boykin breaks up a Dennis Dixon pass to Greg Salas. If we want to play the “jump to conclusions based on practice observations” game, Boykin is the best corner on the roster. Of course, he’ll need to prove that in the preseason.

1:07 – Chip Kelly is very hands-on with returners during the special-teams period. He’s got something to say to DeSean Jackson after every rep. On one play, Jackson doesn’t get into great position to field the punt and ends up squatting down low to make the grab. Kelly instructs him to get to a better spot so that he’s more up-right and can move once he’s got the ball in his hands.

At the end of the special-teams period, Connor Barwin and special-teams coach Dave Fipp do the whole “jump in the air and bump backsides” thing. Do we have a name for that? I never know how to describe it.

1:17 – Nick Foles starts out with the first team during 7-on-7s, although he and Michael Vick end up rotating. He completes his first three passes in the short/intermediate range and then tests Boykin deep, looking for Russell Shepard. But Boykin (broken record alert) breaks up the pass.

Michael Vick has a pass batted down by the fly-swatter contraptions that are meant to simulate tall defensive linemen.

Matt Barkley is intercepted by Brandon Hughes on a nice play down the right sideline.

1:27 – Thud time. This is as close to hitting as we get. It’s worth noting that Fletcher is not participating fully. Instead of Curtis Marsh replacing him opposite Cary Williams, it’s Boykin on the outside. On offense, Jason Avant is seeing reps as the No. 2 WR in Riley Cooper’s place, although as we wrote earlier, he’s unlikely to play outside.

1:30 – FIGHT! We had been waiting for our first skirmish. It seems like Clifton Geathers was definitely involved. Maybe Vinny Curry too. On the offensive side, McManus thought he saw Dallas Reynolds, and I think I spotted Matt Kopa as well.

After practice, I asked Geathers if it’s hard letting up during these sessions.

His response: “I don’t let up. I never let up. Never will. I’m going to finish you.”

OK then. Moving on…

1:36 – It seems like Barwin and Brent Celek get matched up every day during one-on-ones. And Barwin usually gets the better of his former Cincinnati teammate. Today, he grabs Celek and chucks him out of the way before attacking the (simulated) ball-carrier. As I’ve mentioned before, these are not just one-on-ones to get to the quarterback. Defenders have to shed the block and get to the running back.

1:52 – Vick gets the first-team reps during 7-on-7s and connects with Jackson time after time after time. It felt like Jackson caught about 70 balls during today’s practice. He was open all day and didn’t have a drop, as far as I could tell. The speedy wide receiver is having an excellent camp.

We talked about Foles’ deep ball before. He underthrows Damaris Johnson, forcing the wide receiver to slow down as Colt Anderson breaks it up.

Foles then throws a good ball to Ifeanyi Momah on a crosser, but the 6-7 wide receiver drops it. I’ve mentioned before that Momah’s 4.4 speed hasn’t shown up on the practice field. I asked Kelly about that today.

“I think with all young players or with all players when they’re thinking too much, I don’t think they’re running as fast,” Kelly said. “So if their head is moving and they’re a little confused, then their feet don’t move as fast. When Mo knows exactly what he’s doing, he can cut it loose a little bit.”

In other words, Momah hasn’t played a lot the last two years, and it’s going to take him some time to play fast, even if he has good straight-line workout speed.

Later during this period, Foles is nearly picked off by backup linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

2:06 – In 11-on-11s, Vick throws a beauty to James Casey in between the linebacker and safety. He then rolls to his right off of play-action and delivers a dart to Jackson in front of Williams.

Foles with good moments here too. He finds Casey and then connects with Momah while rolling to his right. Don’t think either QB threw an incompletion during this period.

Vick’s back up. He squeezes one in to Jackson between Mychal Kendricks and Nate Allen. Jackson’s catch rate during team drills in camp has to be over 80 percent.

2:20 – One final team session. Peters left practice with a hamstring issue. Lane Johnson moves over to take his place. Todd Herremans swings out to right tackle. And Danny Watkins comes in to play right guard.

“If we were going to play a game, we’re probably going to go with our best tackle combination,” Kelly explained afterwards. “So, for us to do that, then Lane needs work at left tackle, and Todd needs work at right tackle.”

Practice ends on a down note for both QBs. Vick dumps it off three times and throws across his body.

Foles rolls to his left and throws into traffic as Kendricks picks it off. The second-year linebacker drew praise from Kelly afterwards.

“You look at the play he made, the dive and catch on the interception, I’m not sure we have another linebacker with that skill set,” Kelly said.

The original question was about whether Kendricks had the skill set to blitz.

“It’s nice to have a guy that has that skill set that can do both,” he said. “So I think we’ve got to be conscious of, yeah, he’s great to bring on blitzes, but he’s also great in coverage. So we have to mix and match. But the ability, what it ends up being for Mike, is he’s truly a three-down linebacker.”

2:29 – That’s it for today. Back again Monday from the Linc.

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