Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

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Eagles practice was once again open to the media today. Here’s what we saw.

11:31 – We start out with the tight ends who are working with assistants Ted Williams and Justin Peelle on blocking. Williams is one of my favorite interviews in the organization. He’s entering his 20th season with the Eagles and has seen a lot. Last year I was talking to him about the culture of coaches sleeping in their offices during the season. I asked the 70-year-old Williams if he did that, and he shot me a look as if to say: “No way. Are you bleepin’ nuts?”




I'm always in favor of a good work-family balance.

11:34 - The offensive linemen set up in their stances. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland yells out instructions, and they fire off the ball to the second level where other players hold orange blocking mats.

Jason Peters probably doesn't get enough credit for helping out the younger players. He's constantly directing them in between drills. Right now he's having a conversation with undrafted free agent Josh Andrews.

During the next offensive line drill, two players face each other. One holds an orange blocking pad, while the other drives him back. Stoutland yells over and over again: "Feet! Drive! Feet! Drive!"

Sometimes he motions to the guy with the pad and tells him to move in a specific direction. The point is that the linemen are supposed to move their feet. Undrafted free agent Donald Hawkins doesn't do a rep to Stoutland's liking.

"We've got a leaner!" he yells before correcting the rookie.

11:41 - Now three offensive linemen set up next to each other. It's time to work on the Eagles' bread and butter play: the inside zone. I asked Lane Johnson afterwards about how much practice time is spent on this one play. He estimated about 40 percent of each session for the offensive linemen.

11:46 - Mychal Kendricks was not a full participant in practice last week when we watched, but he is today, lining up alongside DeMeco Ryans with the first team. During this portion of practice, the offense lines up against the defense, but they don't run plays. The offense just shifts and motions while the defense is forced to adjust. When the whistle blows, the ball is snapped, and they do it again.

11:50 - Picture time! Last week I mentioned a couple different contraptions the running backs use at practice. One is a blue belt:

bluebelt_940

Two running backs are connected, as you can see. The ball-carrier lunges forward, while the other player holds his weight back.

The other was a red mini doorway-type thing that forces the running backs to get small.

redthing_940

Thanks to Jeff Fusco for the photos.

11:55 - Moving on, during the special teams portion of practice, Ryans stands in the end zone next to defensive coordinator Billy Davis. It's clear to see why Ryans is a favorite of the coaches. We've speculated quite a bit in this space about the possibility of Davis spelling Ryans more in sub packages. But so far, that hasn't been the case. I asked Ryans after practice if there's any sub package where he comes off. His response? "No. You trying to get me off the field?"

The veteran sees no need to play fewer snaps in 2014.

By the way, Ryans and Davis may be the two most well-liked people in the building by their peers.

11:59 - Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com is measuring the hang time of Donnie Jones' punts. Those two are going to give Cary Williams and Earl Wolff a run for their money for the biggest bromance of 2014.

12:04 - Some depth chart notes to share. Zach Ertz should chew into Brent Celek's snaps this year, but Celek is still getting all the first-team snaps at tight end.

Najee Goode and Jason Phillips are the inside linebackers with the twos.

I don't know what to make of Chris Polk's role. He's been running with the third team. Darren Sproles has been the man with the twos.

12:09 - During the teach period, Davis yells out calls. Normally these would be in Ryans' helmet. Ryans, meanwhile, communicates the calls to the rest of the defense - both verbally and with his hand signals. During this portion of practice, the starting defensive line is Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan. The twos are Brandon Bair, Damion Square and Vinny Curry. And the threes are Joe Kruger, Taylor Hart and Beau Allen. It's worth noting that Kruger has been mixing in with the ones and twos.

12:14 - During the 11-on-11 period, Nick Foles looks sharp. On one play, though, he can't find a receiver and takes off running, giving Connor Barwin a pass fake like he's a point guard on a fast break. Foles averaged 17 rushing yards per game last season. Spread out over a 16-game season, that equates to 272 yards. Would you believe that only nine QBs had more rushing yards than that in 2013?

By the way, Mark Sanchez continues to take all the reps ahead of Matt Barkley with the second team.

12:24 - More special teams practice on the main field. On a side field, the quarterbacks gather around the 40-yard-line. Their targets are in the end zone. Assistants set up two trash cans stacked on top of each other. They then tilt a third trash can towards the quarterbacks, almost like a cannon.

Two of these apparatuses are set up, and the quarterbacks try to launch the ball into the opening on each can.

As I watch, I convince myself that I could make more than these guys from 20 yards in.

I did not get to check if the winner of the contest receives a giant stuffed animal.

12:34 - Jaylen Watkins sighting. The rookie nearly picks off Sanchez.

Foles, meanwhile, lofts a pretty throw to Celek on a corner route past Nate Allen. The Eagles have to run more corner routes with their tight ends than any team in the league.

12:43 - The first-team nickel has Trent Cole, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Connor Barwin up front. The twos are Brandon Graham, Bennie Logan, Vinny Curry and Travis Long. Phillips and Goode are the linebackers.

Each year, we give out a Twins award. One year it was King Dunlap and Dion Lewis. This year, the favorites are 6-9 Frances Mays and 5-6 Darren Sproles. Unfortunately, I have yet to see them stand next to each other.

12:47 - Sanchez delivers a nice ball to Ifeanyi Momah in front of Brandon Boykin. He then connects with Momah again off a bootleg.

Foles sets up a screen to Jeremy Maclin, and there's Jason Kelce downfield blocking Malcolm Jenkins. It's easy to forget that Kelce was coming off an ACL injury last year. I'll go ahead and be the first to predict that he makes the Pro Bowl in 2014.

1:01 - The Eagles switch from a teach period to 11-on-11s. Free-agent addition Bryan Braman brings the energy, yelling at no one in particular as he runs from one side of the field to the next.

If you're wondering about the Eagles' fifth and possibly sixth receivers, keep an eye on Brad Smith. He's getting a lot of reps in the slot with the ones. The sense here is that he's got a good chance to make the 53-man roster.

The Eagles work on their two-minute offense. The first team has to settle for a field-goal try. Alex Henery hits it from 47 yards out. The second team also settles for a field goal. Murderleg misses on a 30-yard attempt.

Now it's red-zone time. Foles looks for Maclin on a back-shoulder throw, but they can't connect. Maclin wants a penalty on Bradley Fletcher. They try again two plays later, but Maclin can't hang on. In the scariest moment of practice so far, he lays on the ground and grabs his left knee.

But Maclin gets up after about 30 seconds and joins the team huddle as practice ends.

No more open practices this week, but we'll be back for two more next week.

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  • jabostick

    Ive been as ready to move on from Henery as most of you, but it’ll be interesting to see what some competition does to him.

    • peteike

      ya I just wish they brought in better competition. Seems like the kickalicous dude would have maybe been a more consistent option.

    • PJ

      doesn’t seem like murderleg is providing much competition. why can’t they bring in a real kicker to challenge henery?

      • jabostick

        Up until today, Murderleg was the best thing since sliced bread Donnie Jones! But yeah, I get your point. Murderleg’s kicking history isnt exactly gangbusters.

        • peteike

          seems like “murderleg” may die a fast cold death, pun intended.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Hopefully before he kicks the bucket he lays wood on someone in preseason at a home game. Then we can say that we’ll always have that hit to remember him by. I’m thinking Rex Ryan would pick him up if only to kickoff and face plant a few guys during the season for his viewing pleasure from the sidelines.

          • Eagles1018

            Ba dum crash!

    • NTT66

      My impression (hope) is that he can at least be the kickoff specialist, since Henery hasn’t seen a touchback since Pop Warner.

      • George

        donnie longball on kickoffs???

        • Jerry Pomroy

          I know this sounds a tad sissy, but would you want to lose Donnie to injury on a kickoff? He’s too valuable punting IMO.

      • paul from nc

        Murderleg can’t do touchbacks either. His avg kickoff was 60.4 yrd. That equates to about the 4 yard line.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      What you’re forgetting here in this moment… Henery made a 47 yarder! That’s like hitting from 60 for him! Woo-hoo! ;-)

      • Eagles1018

        Sad but true

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Can someone slip him a PED? All I can say is that if he’s the kicker this year, he’s got no excuses about missing at home and the wind off the Delaware that swoops through the corners along I-95.

  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    Cary Williams and Earl Wolff have a bromance? I thought it was Jenkins and Wolff?

    Can you give us the shooting percentage on those trash can 40+ yard throws? That actually sounds pretty hard to me, even for an NFL QB. I can see them hitting a trash can, but to actually get it inside? No more than 25%?

    • anon

      heard they had a drill where barwin stood downfield with his arms out and QBs had to hit his hands. Foles did that.

      Consensus from observes seems to be that Sanchez and Bark are trash at this point (very innacurate) foles is far and away the better qb (surprise…)

      • George

        ha. trash

    • paul from nc

      In the old days they had a drill where they had to throw though a swinging tire. I don’t know the distance, but it was a standard drill and most QB’s did it to a high percentage.

  • Ian Farley

    #murderleg misses a 30 yarder…. that is not good.

    • shady25

      Let’s see how he rebounds

  • CrackSammich

    I’m most interested in the WR race. Nice to see updates about Momah and Smith, but how are the others doing on the back end of the roster? Benn? Johnson? The UDFAs?

    • anon

      I heard Matthews is crushing it – super fast, runs to the end zone on every drill then sprints back to the line up — TDs every time he gets the ball. Encouraging Momah to finish plays, etc.

    • shady25

      Would like for Benn ti make it but I think Brad Smith had the 5th spot bad on his versatility and ST’s. Benn really has to step up on ST’s if he wants to make this team. I would like for Momah and Benn to make it, but it just seems like Kelly is in love with Smith and Maehl for whatever reason.

  • JosephR2225

    Love what I’m reading about this team. Seems every player is willing to teach, willing to learn, or both. Seems like there are great relationships between the coaches and players, and everybody is on the same page.

    Now we just need it to translate into wins.

  • Johnny Domino

    That “red mini doorway-type thing” looks like a gargantuan croquet wicket.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      Are you suggesting mallets be used on the field? Is that what they’re called in croquet? That would be some serious gladiatoresque entertainment… Lol.

      • Johnny Domino

        Throw in Jart-dodging and you’ve got something.

  • HowieGambleChipsAllDay

    momah, Momah, MOMAH, MOMAH, MOMAH, MOMAH!

    • Maggie

      Put another “m” in there and you get, “Mommah! Momma!” ;~)

  • BuddyBall

    The two best ways to bait Birds 24/7 commenters:
    1. Positive reports about Momah.
    2. Negative reports about Murderleg.

    • Anebriated

      You said it. My first thought after reading the article was wondering how much Momah has improved his hands going into this season.

      Murderleg.

      • LucyBlakeesas

        like
        Jacqueline implied I’m taken by surprise that a mom can earn $8130 in 1 month
        on the computer . see post F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

    • paul from nc

      or negative report on Foles.

  • anon

    also some more notes and video of the rb drill which is interesting, notice there are hoops for both levels. very inventive drills.

    http://www.bleedinggreennation.com/2014/6/2/5773242/eagles-ota-practice-notes-jeremy-maclin-injury-jordan-matthews-impressive

  • peteike

    Am I the only one not very excited that Brad Smith is running with the 1s. Sure its early, but something about a transitioned QB/utility gamer doesnt excite me. Seems like there should be a more polished receiver in that role. Im hoping so at some point at least or maybe he surprises who knows. Momah and Benn have a shot I suppose and the rooks stepping up. Damris, someone tweeted, is way off in the netherworld apparently.

    • OldDocRoss

      Your three starters (assuming we’re counting the slot receiver as starting) are pretty much set as Coop, Maclin and Matthews. I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over who’s fourth man up because Sproles, Ertz, Celek and McCoy figure to get a bunch of catches but the hope would be that Huff takes that spot rather than Smith.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Injuries? You’ve always got to account for the possibility of injuries & field the best 53 man roster you can. We lost 2 WRs before the season even started last season. One a starter and the other looked to be a solid addition on the back end of the depth chart. Sure STs play should come into account, but you can’t make that call over a guy that is head and shoulders above the other guy. Not saying that’s the case, but you’ve got to factor it in there.

        • OldDocRoss

          Yeah, was just making the point that I wouldn’t worry about Smith running with the ones because his best case scenario come September is probably being #5 on the depth chart. If a couple of the guys ahead of him got injured I’d assume we’d look outside for help.

          • JosephR2225

            If you’re like me, you’ve also seen enough of the pseudo-Wildcat where Smith lines up at QB not to want him on the roster, so Chip isn’t tempted to try it again.

          • OldDocRoss

            About half the guys we drafted played QB in high school. If Chip wants crappy pseudo-Wildcat, Chip will have crappy pseudo-Wildcat.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Oh gotcha. Still hoping that we go with our best & not just taking STs play as only deciding factor.

          • Eagles1018

            I hope Smith for the “versatile WR/ST guy” is not the guy he picks. I concur you better good get good receivers to be receivers on the depth chart. I would assume guys like Maragos and Brayman who were brought in puts a little less emphasis on ST guys. Also, if Smith does get the nod, the way Goode and Phillips are seemingly doing well with the 2’s, then dump Casey Matthews. PLEASE.

    • Andy124

      Hines Ward was a converted QB. Not that you should be excited about Brad Smith, just that the conversion is far enough in his past that it shouldn’t be a factor imo.

      • peteike

        its more the jack of all, master of none than the conversion. These types of players dont do much for me, Id rather gamble on potential with other young guys. The whole special teams, designed plays thing never seems to pay off enough for a roster spot. Also seems like this current squad is stacked with potential returners on top of it. Good point about him not really being an option to worry about though minus injury.

      • Ben

        I think Brad Smith is more of an athlete than most give him credit. He’s just a solid all around good player and I think Chip likes his versatility. If you can create a mismatch then his value increases. I think Chip feels that if we use him in special packages he could create a good diversion or a mismatch. He’s got good speed and good hands and knows how to run a route properly and his Football IQ is high. With all of these intangibles, I think it makes him an overall better player than a one trick pony.

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Depends on the trick I guess. If that trick is catching TDs in the RZ, I’ll take that over being a jack of all trades at the bottom of the roster. Just saying…

    • Joe L

      You already said it. “It’s early.”

    • Tom W

      It will be cooper, maclin, Matthews come game day

  • NTT66

    “I don’t know what to make of Chris Polk’s role. He’s been running with the third team. Darren Sproles has been the man with the twos.”
    Didn’t that actually say it all about Polk’s role?

    • addicted2mula

      I believe just to get more reps on Sproles. I look at it ad Polk/Sproles are both 2s. Just Sproles role would be more RB/WR.

      • NTT66

        Agreed, and Sproles is a multi-year vet whereas Polk had a few good runs over the course of one season. If Sproles ends up with fewer snaps over the season, notwithstanding injury, I would be surprised (pleasantly because that means Polk progressed much better than expected).

        • addicted2mula

          I see all three playing

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Gotta believe they’ll both be change of pace backs. Polk between the tackles, Sproles as the scatback.

        • addicted2mula

          I see all three playing in couple games

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Yeah I think Sproles is getting reps with the twos just for Chip to see what running situations he fits best to capitalize on. He did mention that he’d like to see what he can do so he can figure out how to use him after they traded for him.

    • Maggie

      No. They are not even in training camp yet.

      • NTT66

        Really? Because I thought it was week 2 of the season. Thanks for enlightening me!

  • Rob

    Didn’t see Villanueva’s name at all in the D-line rotation. Are there “4’s” or did he mix it at all with the “3’s.” I don’t have high expectations for him even though it’s a nice story, but with that huge frame I’m wondering if he’s shown anything.

    • anon

      He’s working supply detail, water bottles and such.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        Homeboy is a Ranger. They don’t do supply detail. There is an MOS specifically for supply.

        • Dan

          Wrong… Ranger battalions 1st, 2nd, and 3rd) have all sorts of different MOSes. They even have Army cooks (92G) that have the Ranger tab and scroll.

      • NTT66

        KP all day, make sure those chafers are flaming

        • Jerry Pomroy

          Now KP is a possibility…lol.

  • SunShine

    40 percent on the inside zone? That’s pretty good stuff there.

  • JettMartinez

    Time and again I read other Eagles’ articles and see “a reporter asked” player x. Then I come here and read “I asked” player x. Why do I still go to other pages? Great work as always!

  • Tom W

    Krueger! Momah! Love for both of them to be 6th dl and wr come cutdowns. Dunno what to make of Brandon bair yet. Suprised curry doesn’t replace ced on nickel first team.

  • NickS1

    Good to see Kruger getting some work with the ones and twos. Really excited to see what this kid can do. Don’t like seeing Maclin was grabbing the knee already. Wouldn’t mind seeing him sit out until training camp and continuing to rehab and build up strength.

    • OldDocRoss

      It was the other knee I think, which is a little reassuring at least.

      • NickS1

        Hope so.

        • anon

          I’m sure Kelly was thinking “this m—-r f—-r”.

          • dnabrice

            Howie was thinking “I’m glad he insisted on the 1-year.”

      • NTT66

        Personally, I’m not reassured that a guy coming off an ACL injury had an issue, however minor, with his other knee

  • Sconces

    “Two running backs are connected, as you can see. The ball-carrier lunges forward, while the other player holds his weight back.”

    Why not just have both lunge forward in opposite directions?

    • Jerry Pomroy

      The strap is connected to the ball. It’s meant to train two things, fighting for yardage while holding onto the ball. My high school coach used to do something similar. He had a ball with a rope attached to it. He’d hand off the ball to the RBs, then as the RB cut through the line he’d take up the slack and tug at the ball at random. Did the same thing with kick/punt returners.

      • anon

        smart

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

    For this year’s Twins, I’d much rather see Villanueva and Sproles. I bet it would make for a great picture in camp if the big Ranger went to tackle him.
    Something like this, I’d imagine….. (channeling inner kempski)

  • Jerry Pomroy

    Still would really like to hear more on Watkins & we also haven’t heard much on Matthews (Jordan).

    • anon

      read the bgn article or my comments below matthews is crushing it

  • Jerry Pomroy

    Can always count on that “hack” Kempski for a descriptive drawing that looks like my 6yr old’s Super Mario scribble scenes on the back of his classwork.

  • IAteLunchToday

    “12:47 – Sanchez delivers a nice ball to Ifeanyi Momah in front of Brandon Boykin. He then connects with Momah again off a bootleg.”

    I think the most unbelievable moment that you could have told Eagles fans at the end of last season that would be happening this season.

  • Gues

    Today’s (3 jun) wake-up call link is messed up

  • http://batman-news.com KobraKai7474

    I agree on Kelce and the Pro Bowl this year. In a year or three, once Peters, Herremans and Mathis move on, Kelce will be exactly the guy you want in the middle of a young-ish offensive line: A darn good guy who works his butt off, says and does the right things, and plays his face off on the field.

  • paul from nc

    Why do the writers continue to say who’s running with the 1’s, 2’s or 3’s? Didn’t they learn last year that Chip puts everybody everywhere during practices?

  • Mark Nato

    You might be interested to know Coach William’s son set the NJ high school record for passing yards in a season this past year(along with a bunch of other records).