Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations


Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ final practice of the spring.

10:21 – This is as close as football players will get to the last day of school. It reminds me of when the Eagles used to hold training camp at Lehigh. On the last day of practice, they would run off the field with giant smiles on their faces before returning to Philadelphia. In the spring, it’s similar. The players will get 35 days off between now and the start of training camp.

10:32 – Safety Chris Maragos gets his Super Bowl ring today. The former Seahawks special teams standout went to the White House recently with his teammates and said he got to sit in Barack Obama’s home theater. I asked him what Barry’s DVD collection looked like. Not sure he realized I was joking.

10:48 – Here’s today’s video of the tight ends:

11:00 – After some special teams work, it’s 7-on-7 time. DeMeco Ryans breaks up a Nick Foles pass intended for Brent Celek underneath. But Foles hits Jordan Matthews on a crossing route and then finds Jeremy Maclin on an out.

Some have asked about Matthews practicing with the first team. From what I’ve seen, he’s only been doing that when the team goes with ’10’ personnel (one RB, four wide receivers). But it’s certainly possible he’s been mixing in with Brad Smith in the slot.

Meanwhile, Darren Sproles moves to the slot when the second team gets up. We haven’t seen that much this spring, but it’s pretty much a lock to happen more often once training camp starts.

11:09 – Foles throws incomplete to Smith, but as Jimmy Kempski points out, it was a good incompletion. Smith had a defender on his right hip, and Foles threw it low to Smith’s left. When a guy only throws two interceptions in a season, there’s always some luck. Football Outsiders noted that he had four near-interceptions in 2013. But even if all those were picked, Foles would have had one of the better INT rates in the league. He did a great job of taking care of the football last season.

Matt Barkley is finally starting to get some second-team reps, and Mark Sanchez goes with the threes.

11:19 – During special teams practice, Matthews chucks the ball 25 yards downfield to an assistant. Tight spiral. He’s got a good arm.

I should mention that while he was doing that with one hand, he was saving a baby from a burning building with his other hand. There are no limits to this man’s ability.

11:28 – Nolan Carroll II breaks up a Sanchez pass for Zach Ertz down the seam. If they gave out an award for most pass break-ups during the spring, Carroll would win it. We’ll see this summer if he starts to mix in with Bradley Fletcher as a potential starter.

Matthews lines up in the slot and runs a wheel route down the left sideline. He turns around at the right time and plucks the Sanchez pass out of the air above Roc Carmichael’s helmet. Nice play by the rookie.

Riley Cooper, meanwhile, gets behind Nate Allen on a deep-crossing route and catches a touchdown from Foles.

Barkley continues to have trouble with intermediate-to-deep throws outside the numbers.

11:40 – Good coverage by Mychal Kendricks, breaking up a Foles pass intended for Matthews. If this defense is going to show real improvement in 2014, guys like Kendricks have to make the leap.

It’s a hurry-up, two-minute situation. Foles yells, “Clock! Clock! Clock!” but then takes the snap and tries to hit Cooper near the sidelines instead of spiking it. His pass is incomplete.

Against a blitz, Foles unloads quickly to Matthews. LeSean McCoy is “stopped” on third down, and the offense settles for a field goal.

Sanchez leads the second team and throws incomplete to Josh Huff. After a throw-away, he fires to Ifeanyi Momah, who can’t hang on. And Huff drops a beautiful pass from Sanchez in the middle of the field on third down. Defense wins this one.

One more note on Huff: Yesterday he was rocking a Houston Rockets Steve Francis jersey. If it were a Matt Maloney jersey, I definitely would have taken a picture. But either way, to steal a phrase from Kelly, Huff is rocked up.

Back to the field: With the threes, Marcus Smith gets a “sack” on first down against Barkley. It looked like he was rushing unblocked from the right side. Barkley’s throw downfield is tipped and intercepted by Keelan Johnson.

11:53 –  Another team drill. It looks like the offense is starting the possession on second down. Foles throws incomplete to Cooper downfield. Cary Williams was in coverage and loves it, running off the field with his arm in the air.

Running back David Fluellen gets some reps with the twos. Sanchez takes a sack and then dumps it off to Fluellen. Another win for the defense.

12:02 – The horn sounds, and the team huddles in the middle of the field one last time for the spring. I’ll admit I miss the days of Asante Samuel leading the DBs in a “Get money!” chant. Maybe someone can bring that back for training camp.

That’ll do it from NovaCare. Thanks to all who followed along this spring. We’ll continue to have plenty of coverage on Birds 24/7 leading up to training camp on July 25.

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