Ifeanyi Momah says that when he looks back at the tape of the joint practices with the Patriots from a year ago, it makes his stomach turn.
“I looked terrible. During one-on-ones I didn’t catch a single pass,” said Momah. “Looking back at that film, it gets me kind of upset. I made sure [on Tuesday] when I came out here during one-on-ones, I tried to beat up the DBs and I caught every pass that came to me.”
It’s not just one-on-ones where progress has been made. In the absence of Riley Cooper, Momah continues to run with the first team, getting the nod over the likes of Arrelious Benn and Jeff Maehl, who are considered his top competition for the final wide receiver slot (assuming they keep six). As has been noted in this space and elsewhere, Momah is vastly improved from a year ago. He is better getting off the line, is using his size to his advantage more, running cleaner routes and is learning how to harness his 4.4 speed. (Momah claims to have run a 4.39-40 in a private workout for Philly last year.)
You see the improvement and watch him roll with the ones, and you wonder if this 6-7, 239-pound project has a legitimate chance to stick.
There are a few things Momah has going for him. Size, for one. There is nobody on the roster that is like him, which will weigh in his favor as the Eagles try to put together a well-rounded 53-man. His cause is further helped by the fact that Benn and Maehl have not done much to distinguish themselves this summer. The other thing to consider is Momah’s upside. He has improved so much over the last year. What’s his ceiling?
“One thing about Mo is from last year to this year, he’s grown in leaps and bounds,” said Chip Kelly, “and he’s continuing to make strides.”
From those angles, he appears to be in good shape. But the one area that could make or break him is special teams.
“If you’re not the starter, because you only have 46 guys active on special teams, you’re going to have to ‑‑ your backup receivers, your backup running backs, your backup tight ends, your backup linebackers, your DBs, they have all got to contribute [on special team],” said Kelly.
“If you’re not in the one, two, three at the wide receiver spot you’ve got to be a great special teams player.”
Kelly referenced Brad Smith— “a four-core special teams guy” — as an example. Smith is in good position to make the team along with Maclin, Cooper, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. The Eagles could carry another wideout, though it’s no guarantee that they do so. Based on his comments, Kelly will have to be convinced that Momah can be effective on special teams to justify spending a roster spot on him. Momah says he is participating in each area of special teams during practice but seems to be working a lot with the second group. He anticipates that he will get a good amount of work with specials Friday.
Fair to say the coaching staff will be watching closely.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Jeremy Maclin can’t finish practice. Here are the details.
“The Eagles aren’t going to be able to afford keeping Ertz off the field once the regular season starts.” Practice observations courtesy of Mr. Kapadia.
Bill Belichick offers his thoughts on Chip Kelly and Nick Foles.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Jeff McLane touches on the play of Curtis Marsh in his practice observations.
Curtis Marsh had another standout series of plays in this drill. He broke up two Brady passes, although one was an errant throw. The Eagles have always liked Marsh’s man-press defensive skills, but he has struggled in zones. On Friday against the Bears, for instance, he appeared to jump out of his zone in Cover 3 and allowed a receiver to get open and score a touchdown. I don’t think there’s a roster spot for Marsh but stranger things have happened.
Jimmy Kempski thinks the way the game will be called this year could negatively impact Bradley Fletcher.
Ever since the referees showed up at Eagles camp a couple weeks ago to begin enforcing the new emphasis on illegal contact by defensive backs and wide receivers, Bradley Fletcher has not been the same. Being physical with receivers down the field is a big part of Fletcher’s game, and if the league does indeed get more strict, he could be in trouble.
A walkthrough at 9:30 a.m. followed by some player availability before our attention turns to Friday night.