Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Another day at NovaCare. Here’s what we saw:

11:54 – We begin today with Eagles wide receivers, who are working on double moves. They head about 12 yards upfield, turn their bodies out towards the sideline and then bang the post inside. “Drive it!” yells wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell.

Then it’s a Birds 24/7 favorite: the sluggo. Wide receivers head inside on a slant, but then turn upfield for the go route. “I gotta see your eyes and hands,” instructs offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, talking to rookie Josh Huff. His point is simple, and it’s a familiar one on all these double moves: Sell the first part of the route well, or the second part won’t be effective.

If you’re wondering about the wide receiver corps, Riley Cooper is still not practicing, and Jeremy Maclin was limited today, although he said afterwards that he’s fine and will be playing Friday night against the Bears.

Jordan Matthews makes the grab on a corner route and then runs into some fans on the sideline. Based on Birds 24/7 comments, this is the equivalent of being blessed by the Pope for those onlookers.

12:05 – During the 3-on-2 period, Nick Foles throws a beauty to Damaris Johnson on a corner route near the sideline. Connor Barwin was dropping in coverage, but Foles placed it right above his out-stretched arms and into Johnson’s hands.

Jaylen Watkins registers an aggressive pass breakup on a Quron Pratt slant. Assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght loves it.

12:17 – Zach Ertz had a strong day. It would not surprise me one bit if he led the Eagles in touchdown receptions this season. He’s going to be a tough matchup in the red zone.

On one play, Foles slings a bullet high to Ertz in the middle of the end zone. He stretches his arms up high and makes a beautiful hands catch above his head. Among all the Eagles pass-catchers, Ertz is the best at making contested grabs.

Earl Wolff, who is back practicing, makes an aggressive pass break-up against Josh Huff on a slant. And Emmanuel Acho gets love from his teammates for forcing an incompletion on a Matt Barkley throw to James Casey.

12:29 – Darren Sproles draws ooohs and ahhhs every day from the fans for his quick feet. It will be fascinating to see what the 31-year-old has left once the regular season begins.

Bennie Logan is still not practicing fully. The first-team defensive line has been Cedric Thornton, Beau Allen and Fletcher Cox. The second team is Brandon Bair, Damion Square and Taylor Hart.

This is a run/play-action period. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro are doing a lot of yelling. Nick Foles (who is practicing with a depleted group of WRs) rolls to his left and can’t find a receiver. Defensive backs coach John Lovett claps and voices his approval.

Casey and Marcus Smith mix it up after the whistle. It looked from my angle like Smith delivered a blow to the side of Casey’s head (helmet on), but the two are quickly separated.

“That’s just tough love,” Smith told me afterwards. “Me and James Casey, we go out there, we just try to work hard. Even afterwards, we’re back on it, we tell each other that play is over. We’re teammates, sometimes it gets chippy, but that’s just the way it is.

“Since I’ve been playing football, just being in camp and just being around each other for so long, you just want to go up against another body. You just want to go through something else. Sometimes it may get a little chippy.”

12:41 – Brandon Boykin vs. Matthews in one-on-ones. Who’s got popcorn?

Matthews runs down the seam and turns for the ball, but Boykin breaks it up. After practice, Matthews explained that he specifically requested to go up against Boykin today.

“It’s just seeing different looks,” Matthews said. “The first couple days I was going against Malcolm [Jenkins]. I said, ‘Malcolm, let’s get together. I want to work against you. You’re a safety. I want to see how it is to go against somebody a little bit more physical in there, somebody that’s gonna try to get their hands on me.’

“And then yesterday and this morning, I said, ‘Yo Boykin, let’s go together. I need to make sure I work against you a little bit.’ So that’s why we took a lot more one-on-one reps together today. And then I also got to work against him some in team too. So it’s just about seeing different looks, being able to work against different type guys and then try to put that all together in my game.”

The next time they get matched up, Matthews uses his size advantage to create space within the 5-yard window, gets open and makes the grab on a shallow crosser.

12:57 – Many of the team periods are about situational football. Chip Kelly announces the details beforehand: no timeouts, up by three, protect the end zone.

The ball is placed at midfield. Matthews gets some run with the ones. Foles looks for him underneath, but Boykin comes through with another pass breakup. Sometimes his physicality gets overlooked. But Boykin is playing with an edge today.

Cary Williams forces an incompletion on a deep ball intended for Ifeanyi Momah.

“Perfect technique, 2-6,” shouts Lito Sheppard from the sidelines. Sheppard is with the Eagles as an intern. He was very spirited and loving life during today’s practice.

Ertz runs a curl, gets Wolff on his back, uses his size and makes another grab.

Sanchez throws a beauty down the seam to Johnson, who beats Roc Carmichael. Perfect placement in traffic; one of Sanchez’s best throws of camp.

Boykin bats another ball down against B.J. Cunningham. At this point, he might as well start using the Dikembe Mutombo finger-wag.

1:09 – During a team period in the red zone, Matthews lines up outside. Brent Celek gets past DeMeco Ryans on a skinny post. Nice pump and throw from Foles for the touchdown.

Once the second team gets up, Sanchez looks for Huff on the fade, but Boykin goes up and gets it for the interception. His helmet got kicked off on the play, but Boykin sprang up and tossed the ball as the defensive sideline went nuts. I’m no defensive coordinator, but I’d take my chances with that guy on the outside against bigger receivers.

Later in the drill, Carmichael delivers a great effort, breaking up a pass to Ertz on a corner route in the end zone. Again, the defensive sideline goes nuts. Carmichael gets an: “I see you, Roc” from an offensive player, which in football terms is about as great a compliment as one can receive.

1:22 – One last team period. Nate Allen sticks with Matthews on a corner route in the end zone and breaks up a pass.

Huff delivers a great effort, keeping his feet in bounds on a grab from Barkley near the sideline in the red zone.

On the final play, G.J. Kinne rolls to his left and throws across his body to the end zone. Curtis Marsh breaks it up, and Williams loses it, racing over from the sideline to congratulate his teammate.

The Eagles have a walk-through tomorrow, and practice is closed Thursday. Then we get real (kind of) football on Friday when they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears.

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  • CHRIS – CB with dreads

    Thanks for reading our occasionally ridiculous comments, Sheil.

    • OverreacSean Jackson, #culture

      And then including them in your posts!

    • I wonder sometimes if he misses some of our more lively characters from yesteryear.

      • peteike

        I dont know, I dont miss them. This is only sane place per comment threads, and thats no easy task.

        • CHRIS – CB with dreads

          You are correct. Some were good for a laugh but I can’t stand the comments sections in other sites.

      • CHRIS – CB with dreads

        I know I do. Mostly Dutch.

        • DirtyWaters

          If you type his name three times in a dark bathroom, a post will appear.

    • JosephR2225

      **Usually ridiculous, occasionally lucid.

  • moesus

    I like that the secondary has been showing up during camp. There’s a myriad of reasons for this but I’m hoping that it’s strictly because they are just that much better than last year.

    • anon

      We’ll see against Bears / Pats.

      • poopdollar

        we destroyed the Bears last year with a less talented secondary.

        • moesus

          Yeah but halfway through the first quarter their game plan was in the trash and they were playing catch up.

          • …..which, if I’m not mistaken, is our plan for most games in the CK era

  • Cheesesteak

    I was on the sidelines at Nova Care last Thursday. It was fascinating to see how Chip runs a practice, and we came away thinking that there just can’t be many teams running a camp as efficiently as the Eagles are doing it right now. It also seemed like as a whole the defense had slightly outplayed the offense during the team parts of practice. I know it was only one day, but Foles looked totally average. Keep that in the back of your head as a counter balance to all of the usual preseason optimism.

    • peteike

      Foles has shown flashes from what Ive read and had not so great outings but thats to be expected when they are trying different looks with all kinds of players. Hes got 3rd string WRs a lot of times as well.

      I hope that practice translates to early season success being ready for game time just that little bit more than the opposition.

    • UncleCarm

      Just guessing, but they are probably asking Foles to push his comfort zone. I’d rather they do it here than in a game, unless of course the game is on the line.

  • Amar, CB who bought in

    ‘….as great a compliment as one can receiver’.
    Sheil, was the compliment from a receiver ?

    • Mikeq

      Hey- it’s training camp for the writers too. Sheil just practicing his puns.

  • wow, after all the Boykin discussion this morning, he comes out and (continues to) dominate.
    maybe, you know, Davis does have some plans for him and just isn’t keen to letting the fans/media/opponents know in August? I just can’t see him only getting 35%-40% of snaps this year without Geagle murdering Billy Davis in his sleep

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      got to see igglesblitz. one article had 100 posts, he had 44 (they counted) and they werent 2 liners.

    • Dominik

      One thing though: you have to give up this “CB #1 on the left, CB#2 on the right” thing if you start Boykin on the outside. I love this guy, but I’m from the fraction that fears his size on the outside.

      Now, if Davis trusts him on the outside, fine. He’s a playmaker and I hope he sticks around for many years. But: I don’t want the Megatrons, Andre Johnsons, Brandon Marshall, Larry Fitzgerald type of WR against him. I don’t want to see that. You have to give those guys to Williams, Fletcher or Carroll, whoever might be the opposite starting CB if Boykin turns out to be the starter.

      I’d have no problems with Boykin against the Desean Jackson, Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace kind of receivers, maybe even Dez Bryant – or generally, #2 receivers. But not against the big monsters, please.

      • TheNest

        Is the GEAGLE the most famous poster ever??

        • cheapmeat.mariota.crackwh0re

          He is on this blog

          • reb

            what’s his new handle? I don’t see behavior that fits with old Geagle postings…that’s what I’ve been watching for.

          • cheapmeat.mariota.crackwh0re

            I believe they blocked his IP address

        • Dominik

          Living legend, I’d say. For some in a positive way, for some in a negative way. :D

          I’m active on the comment section here and at Igglesblitz, so I kind of enjoy the best of both worlds. ;)

      • Brian Gallagher

        It also depends on field position, down and distance in relation to Boykin matching up with a bigger receiver. I think it’s overblown a bit, as the NFL has seen small corners play big (Daryl Green, for example).

  • BuddyBall

    Brandon Bair > Vinny Curry? I assume that’s in the base and not the nickel, but for all the optimism Vinny had about better understanding how to two-gap, that doesn’t sound very good. I can’t help but feel for Vinny; he’s got the burst to put up double digit sacks in a 4-3 but he’s stuck in a bad scheme for his skillset.

  • peteike
    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      clueless, annoying and arrogant, flat out F’n racist. in 1930 the term wasnt considered offensive. yeah, nothing changed in last 70+ yrs. wait, alot has. he considers it an honor, and fans do, we say hail. oh, hail to the racist term, all is good then (agree with Ricky Bobby, i said with all due respect). know it’s a shock to your arrogant butt, but your opinion isnt the driver in this, you arent the one offended. then, the dumbest arguement is, ‘well, it’s only been recent since this has been a hot topic’. due to social media you raging piece of whale crap for a person. unless you live in Southwest, how many native americans do you run into? 99% of america only interacts with them due to twitter.
      would you walk up to a cherokee and say, ‘hey, how ya doin’ ya redskin’…and expect to keep your teeth.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        I’ve met Snyder twice making service calls at his house when with DTV. He is an a$$. Wish this was an issue then. I’m part Blackhawk, but will admit that you cannot tell. However, while I’m not offended by the term itself, it did offend my grandfather & I find Snyder’s ignorance toward it to be worse than the term itself. My grandfather was a teamster & delivered furniture for a living for Strawbridges. He was as strong as an ox. He could throw a couch over his shoulder and carry it into a house up a flight of stairs as if that was normal…No BS. Had he been alive today & went with me to Snyder’s, he would’ve busted him in the mouth for a 10 count.

      • Jerry Pomroy

        By the way, this is a very touchy subject at family gatherings as my wife’s family on her father’s side are staunch deadskin fans…lol.

    • thankfully, Karma is one mean b*tch woman, and will proceed to ram big ol’ steel dongs up the rears of him and Jerrah while we get blessed with Chip and The Anointed One.

      what a wonderful world!

      • peteike

        the controlling the message part just drives me crazy. Buying up the media to put a good face on you and your franchise, it doesnt get any lower or fake. When you have people saying stuff like this: “wrote that during the reporting of the story, Michael had warned him, “I’ll tear you apart if you trash him.”

  • Brent E. Sulecki

    Looks like jordan hitting the wall a little the last few practices. I love the competition out there. Can’t wait for Friday night

  • Ty

    I don’t know how what I am missing I mean I haven’t been to any practices being I live in Columbus but, Boykin seems to be our best cb. he was a monster on the field last year I can only remember him letting a big gainer happen a few times and he had like 6 picks. especially for corner size is not everything speed/quickness is way more valuable. not to mention I remember seeing a video of him jumping really really high. I don’t think everyone needs to fit the mold when your as athletic as him.

  • Jernst

    I agree I’d take my chances with Boykin at 5’10” over fletcher or Williams with a couple more inches. The kids just a better defender that can also jump through the roof to defend the big bodies and he’s plenty physical.

    Blind adherence to a height standard on the outside would have kept a CB like Darrell Green off this team. I hope, and really do think, that Chip is smarter than that and would play the next Darrell Green over the current Cary Williams any day.

    I think the drafting of Jaylen Watkins is in anticipation for Boykins hopeful move outside permanently. We just need someone that can play the slot. Which is a vastly different position than outside as DRC let us all know emphatically. But, worse case scenario I’d start Boykin outside and just bring in Fletcher or Williams to play outside while Boykin plays the slot in nickel.

    Just don’t let one of the best young corners in the game walk next year in order to get a 6’1″ CB who has half the talent on the field. That’s all I ask!