Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Here’s what we saw during today’s session.

11:41 – NFL head coaches have to find a fine line between being hands-on and overbearing.

Chip Kelly delegates responsibility to his staff, but he is constantly taking players aside during practice and pointing out little things. For example, during the current drill, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are running fades down the sideline (no defense).

Undrafted free agent RB David Fluellen takes a rep, catches the ball, and jogs to the other side – but not before Kelly stops him. The head coach’s issue seems to be with where Fluellen caught the ball. No big deal, but it’s common for Kelly to put his arm around players and correct different things throughout the course of a practice.

11:47 – Centers, quarterbacks and running backs practice together during this period, which is all about run plays – perfecting the snap (shotgun and under center), the handoff, the toss, carrying out fakes, etc.

As I’ve mentioned before, Brad Smith spends this period with the quarterbacks.

It’s also worth noting that Julian Vandervelde is out with a back injury, so Evan Mathis is practicing his snaps.

The song that has everyone bouncing today is 0 to 100 by Drake. Josh Huff is loving it.

12:02 – During the routes versus air period, Mark Sanchez tells Harold Carmichael to look out. Carmichael is standing by the sideline, and the QBs are going to be throwing deep outs.

“I got it,” Carmichael responds. “I know how to get out of the way.”

The crowd loves it.

12:15 – I just spent some time chatting with Field Yates, who does a tremendous job for ESPN. I saw he Tweeted his impressions out of Eagles practice. Worth taking a look:

12:28 – I missed a Malcolm Jenkins pick, but Cary Williams adds another – intercepting Matt Barkley down the right sideline.

Then Earl Wolff jumps in front of James Casey in the end zone and nearly intercepts Nick Foles. The defensive backs came to play today. By the way, this was the most extensive first-team action Wolff has seen going back to the spring. He’s flashed on multiple occasions the past couple days.

Mark Sanchez finds Jordan Matthews over the middle. The pass is a bit high, but Matthews does an excellent job of reaching up and snagging it. Then Sanchez hits Matthews on a dig.

I would say roughly 94 percent of Sanchez’s completions today were to Matthews. Perhaps I’m being conservative.

On a related note, I think it’s time for Matthews to move up to the first team and square off against Brandon Boykin. I know Kelly wants to slow down the hype, but he looks ready.

12:32 – During the teach period, receivers set up in three different lines. Two are blockers and the third is the target on the bubble screen. “Outside shoulder,” says receivers coach Bob Bicknell, instructing the blockers to create a lane down the sideline.

12:36 – Foles keeps the ball on a zone read. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, he kept the ball on those plays 17 times for 82 yards last year (4.82 YPC).

Sanchez to Matthews (yawn). Sanchez to Matthews again…

Lots of back-shoulder throws today. Bradley Fletcher breaks up a Foles attempt for Jeff Maehl. Foles then rolls to his right off a play-fake and fires a strike to Jeremy Maclin near the sideline.

12:49 – One-on-ones! I’m trying to keep my eye on wide receivers vs. defensive backs and running backs vs. linebackers (blocking). Mychal Kendricks works his way around Darren Sproles and Najee Goode beats Matthew Tucker.

On the other field, Arrelious Benn does a nice job of fighting for the ball against Boykin and comes down with a catch over the middle.

I hear running backs coach Duce Staley fired up back on the first field. It’s LeSean McCoy against Kendricks. McCoy stops him cold and takes him to the ground. Staley loves it – two hand-slaps and then that thing football players do where they lock arms and pretty much give each other high-fives with their biceps.

T-Mac and I might have to add that to the repertoire when Birds 24/7 has an especially good traffic day.

12:56 – On a sidenote, I’m taking a lot of heat for my claim earlier this week that Rita’s is overrated. McManus is on the other side, and today I ran into a former intern who couldn’t believe I had the gall to make such a statement. Nevertheless, I stand by it.

1:04 – Foles has been hand-cuffed a bit the past couple days while Riley Cooper rests because of a foot injury. It’s been Maehl on the other side of Maclin. I’d like to see one of the rookies or Arrelious Benn get a shot. Foles goes deep to Maehl, but he gets no separation against Fletcher and the pass is incomplete.

Sanchez looks for Matthews again on an intermediate out, but Nolan Carroll II jumps the route and is in position for the pick. The defensive players behind the play on the sideline go nuts, assuming the INT. But the ball must have went through Carroll’s hands because Matthews makes the catch, gets up and starts running.

Is there anything this man can’t do?

Foles looks to go back shoulder to Zach Ertz, but Williams breaks it up.

1:16 – Fletcher breaks up a Foles pass for Ertz during a red zone drill. The defensive backs got their hands on a lot of passes today. Williams with yet another breakup on a back-shoulder throw intended for Maclin.

Boykin intercepts Sanchez in the red zone. But Sanchez finds (guess who?) Matthews for a TD later in the drill.

1:29 – The length of the Eagles’ pass-catchers is showing today. Ertz stretches his arms to make a grab from Sanchez in the flat.

Benn makes a nice back shoulder grab from Sanchez (against Boykin).

And we have a Marcus Smith II sighting. The rookie rushes off the right edge and deflects a Foles pass.

Jenkins finishes up practice by jumping Sproles and intercepting Foles on what would have been a pick-six. He gets a jump in the air/butt bump from Boykin and a low-five from Kelly.

The Eagles are back at it tomorrow and Friday. We’ll have it covered.

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  • Ken

    Great insight Sheil. Can’t wait to see these guys Sunday up close… Keep up the good work

  • Waffles

    Very interested to see the joint practices with the Patriots. Seemed like last year the Eagles D got abused by Brady and company. Would love to see an improved D show up at the joint practices and make some noise.

    • anon

      pats got way better in the secondary, would be interested to see jmatt vs revis/cam

      • aub32

        Looking forward to Revis vs Mac. Should give us an indication on how ready he is and if he can do anything against Sherman or Peterson.

      • OldDuckMcDoc

        pats got way better in the secondary

        Well, they essentially swapped Talib for Revis which is a reasonable win IMO, but then they went and signed Patrick Chung so they get minus infinity points for that bit of business.

        • cdot

          Don’t forget they added Browner as well

  • Guest

    hah! “pretty much give each other high-fives with their biceps” You’re killing me Sheil.

    Foles clearly hasn’t earned it quite yet

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    D is coming. building on the same thing I saw from Monday. thanks a lot Sheil.

  • macadood

    hah! “pretty much give each other high-fives with their biceps” and the web traffic :D You’re killing me Sheil.

    Foles clearly hasn’t earned it quite yet…

  • Guest


  • Addicted2MAmula

    I want to read Foles to Matthews! And the Defense seems like they came to play. I cant wait till the joint practice. Fly Eagles Fly

    • “I don’t drop back planning to throw it to (Matthews),” said Sanchez. “He is just always open.” –

      • Addicted2MAmula
      • Amar, CB who bought in

        This replaces ‘We’re from Philadelphia, we fight’ for me.

  • cliff h-MOAR white goons

    am so pumped for a next Friday…it is so close! want to see Matthews for myself, he cant be this good, can he?

    • Addicted2MAmula

      I cant wait neither. And since he is a “2” well see plenty of him in the first 2 preseason games

      • cliff h-MOAR white goons

        yup, keep him tied to Sanchez’ hip for next 8 days, want to see him blow it up in 1st PS game. plenty of time get him and Foles on same page after that

        • Addicted2MAmula

          Exactly. All I hear is Sanchez to Matthews. Matthews will make Sanchez look good

        • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

          Sanchez keeps throwing to Matthews, Sanchez might end up the week 1 starter by virtue of his rapport with Matthews that Foles never got.

          • All Things Bad@ss

            Dear God … I hope you’re kidding!

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I hope I am too!

    • thefadd

      he’s going against guys who won’t even be on what is at best a mediocre secondary and being thrown to by a guy whose other choices don’t belong on an NFL roster

      • MagatBrackendale

        Oops. Upvote accidental.

      • Erick

        Well he’s going against Boykin, Caroll and Wolff. They seem to be playing at least at the same level as Williams, Fletcher and Allen

  • southy

    I know we have our shortcomings, but if this D comes together the way they were doing late last season, we could see some surprising dominating performances from them this year. It’s time some of these guys with upside start making their names known in the league. Kendricks, Cox, Boykin, I’m looking at you guys.

  • southy

    I am waiting for a video to break of Matthews’ own no-effing-way moment.


    Remember that crazy @sammywatkins catch we told you about? @SalSports got it.

    9:42 AM – 23 Jul 2014

  • ohitsdom

    We need a gif of a Tim-Sheil bicep-five. This must happen.

  • peteike

    Sheil, its not that Ritas is over rated its that water ice is over rated. I dont get it either. Ice cream, gelato etc way better.

    • gonna spit on the Liberty Bell for an encore?

      • FluxCapacitor

        Let me guess, you use Scotts TP, even though it is razor thin and like sandpaper, because you were once told you had to also, right?

        • you went toilet paper first? first? in the universe of metaphors that were available to you, you went toilet paper?

          • FluxCapacitor

            Felt like a good thing to do at the time. LOL

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            I’m dying over here at this.

      • peteike

        please, Ritas is just a name and water ice for ….sake. Now plenty of other things Id call sacrilege but not that. Id spit on Rocky though and that would get me a beating. Tired rocky references to Philly sports has jaded me.

        • you’re one “wiz wit” dis from catching that beating Pete.

          • peteike

            haha, I knew I shouldve just clammed up about Rocky

          • good thing for you the internet is anonymous. you’d be getting the JD Drew battery treatment.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Only because there’s no snowballs this time of year.

          • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

            Sorry Rich, Jims and Genos are for tourists and drunk college kids. I can’t eat a steak sandwich from any place that even offers cheese whiz.

          • I have a soft spot for Genos. It’s right around my midsection.

          • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

            Ha-ha-ha :-)

          • cliff h-MOAR white goons

            both are an institution. don’t care where the bachelor party is in great philly area, how stinky from stripper perfume you are…if you aren’t bailing groom out of jail, it better be ending at one or the other

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            They’re an institution like an online university is an institution.

    • 76mustang

      I love the valencia orange ice blended with the vanilla custard – instant cream-sicle and satisfying on a hot summer day.

  • Dominik

    cliff henny

    Per Adam Schefter:

    Cowboys giving Tyron Smith 8-yr, $110M, incl $40M gtd, $10M sign bonus, per @toddarcher. Smith signed through 2023.

    Your take, as SC guru?

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      it’s great deal money wise. the issue is it’s an extension, he doesn’t even get into contract till ’16. so they have to sit thru 32 games hoping he stays healthy before this investment even starts to pay for itself.
      the issue was, Cowboy couldn’t do the contract this year due to cap space (like with Foles, Eagles can rip up 4th yr), so they had to take ’15 as a 1st rd tender contract and make him play out this yr on rookie. so, there is some risk, and the risk is soley due to mismanaged cap. he better stay healthy, he’s starting LT for next 6 yrs, no questions asked. one of those things, everyone knew it was coming, could have waited 18 months.

      • Dominik

        it’s great deal money wise

        Definitely not something I wanted to hear from you when it comes to the extension of the star LT from the Cowboys. Have to say, 40m gtd for 8 years of quality play, that’s not much for an All Pro LT.

        The details will be interesting. He’s 13.75m/year based on the 110m. Let’s hope the incentives are low, so he reaches as much as possible and their cap will suffer as much as possible.

        The lenght of the contract brings injury risks, no doubt, and it makes sense for Smith, since he has 10m now, 30 m gtd otherwise and the chance to make ~ 90m all in all. But it sucks that the cap hit will be reasonable.

  • Bullwinkle

    If Foles gets injured and Sanchez comes in, they will also need to put Matthews on the field.

  • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

    I. Can’t. Wait.

  • jpate

    yeah get Maehl out of there he does nothing for me.

  • thefadd

    Rita’s is completely overrated!

  • Joe Thomas

    Wolfe is gonna be good.

  • Jerry Pomroy

    You honestly can’t sell Maehl to me as the primary backup behind Cooper. I’d think that’d be Benn or even Matthews, but Maehl?? Yuck!

    So the sighting of Marcus ‘Darrrling’ Smith comes from him rushing off the ‘right edge’ (going against the ones at that). I still stand by my belief that he’ll make his case to be the starter before season’s end. I’d say after week 10 he comes on strong.

    I’m beginning to think that Matthews needs to move up to the ones as well. If anything to get Sanchez to actually work on trying to throw the ball to someone else. Matthews is just making him look better than he is…lol.

    If I was still a betting man, I’d wager a healthy sum on the chances of Carroll moving up to starting over Williams.