I feel sorry for the younger generation of Eagles fans — and not just because our beloved team hasn’t won a playoff game in nearly a decade. The July humidity has me feeling nostalgic for when the sun and the Eagles’ fortunes were bright. The two places my mind tends to wander when reminiscing about halcyon childhood summers: the Shore (duh), and Eagles training camp in Bethlehem, where the team got into game shape for 17 glorious Augusts from 1996 through 2012. Read more »
The Eagles announced that training camp will start up on Sunday, August 2, two weeks before their preseason opener against the Colts.
There will be two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field — on Tuesday, August 4 and Sunday, August 9. They will be free of charge and will not require a ticket for entry. Read more »
12:28 – Before we get started, a warning that parts of this running diary could be incoherent. I’m hopped up on DayQuil and Cold-eeze – anything to fight this sore throat.
One thing I should have mentioned earlier this summer: Fletcher Cox wins the award for “player most likely to be dancing in between drills.” I would have never pegged him to earn such a distinction, but I guess they have a vibrant club scene in his hometown of Yazoo City, Miss.
During stretching, defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro gives Antonio Dixon a hard time. “Nobody talk to Dix! He’s in a baaaaad mood!” Azzinaro yells.
12:40 – Tackling? Well, kind of. One offensive ball-carrier against one defender in a 5-yard space. Video:
I know, not quite the Oklahoma drill:
1:08 – Some injury notes. Jason Peters (hamstring) is a limited participant. And Lane Johnson spent another day with his family after the birth of his son. Those first few days (weeks? months?) are a blur. I had no idea what was going on. Come to think of it, 10 months later, I still have no clue what’s going on.
1:18 – We have a depth chart change. Rookie Earl Wolff is lining up alongside Patrick Chung at safety with the first team. T-Mac has more on the position change. Billy Davis won’t say that the move has anything to do with Nate Allen struggling vs. the Patriots. But obviously, it does. If Allen played well Friday night, he wouldn’t have gotten bumped.
A few other depth chart notes. Danny Watkins was diagnosed with a concussion and sat out practice. That means the Eagles’ first-team offensive line looks like this, from left to right: Allen Barbre, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Matt Tennant and Todd Herremans.
The second-team offensive line is Matt Kopa, Nate Menkin, Julian Vandervelde, Dallas Reynolds and Matt Tobin.
On defense, Bennie Logan rotates in with Isaac Sopoaga at nose tackle with the ones. Damion Square takes over at the nose with the twos. Clifton Geathers and Vinny Curry are next to him at the end spots. Chip Kelly was very complimentary of Logan and Square during his press conference Sunday.
1:28 – One-on-one blocking drills. For the first time all summer, the tight ends are getting the best of the outside linebackers. James Casey handles Chris McCoy. Zach Ertz, who did not look good as a blocker on Friday, does a good job on Connor Barwin. And Emil Igwenagu owns Brandon Graham on the last rep of the drill.
Next up is special teams. As usual, Kelly spends time with the returners. DeSean Jackson holds two tennis balls in his hands and catches the punt. Then LeSean McCoy strolls over. McCoy is one of the few players who has nothing to do during special-teams periods. His fellow running backs are participating on return and coverage teams. So McCoy needs to find some way to occupy himself. He jumps in and starts fielding punts – or at least trying. All the fundamental aspects of fielding punts that Kelly has been drilling into the heads of Jackson and Damaris Johnson? McCoy basically does the opposite.
Kelly seems to be getting a kick out of McCoy’s exploits. Asked yesterday about his relationship with the running back, Kelly said: “He’s a little bit more Chuckles the Clown than I am.”
1:42 – During 7-on-7 drills, Brent Celek, who has not had a very good camp, makes a nice grab on a low throw from Michael Vick. Vick then throws a dart to Jackson on an out pattern.
Nick Foles holds the ball too long on his first rep. But he then throws a beauty to Johnson in between three defenders. The Eagles continue to experiment with a three-safety look. This time, it’s Kurt Coleman, Wolff and Chung.
Vick’s back up. He just barely overthrows Celek down the middle. Celek got past Mychal Kendricks on the play. Vick then rifles one to Jackson, just ahead of Wolff and Brandon Boykin. A good example of why arm strength matters. If that pass had just a little less velocity, it’s a pick-six for Wolff.
1:55 – 11-on-11 time. The ball’s at the 35. Foles is thinking screen, but the defense sniffs it out, and he throws the ball into the ground. He then hits Jason Avant and Jackson on consecutive throws.
Haven’t seen this before: Boykin comes in and Cox goes out in the nickel package. The Eagles move Connor Barwin and Trent Cole in as ends. Cedric Thornton and Logan are your defensive tackles in the four-man front. Probably wouldn’t read too much into it since Cox is the team’s best interior pass-rusher, but worth noting nonetheless.
Sam Acho with excellent coverage on Casey down the middle of the field to force an incompletion.
By the way, now’s a good time to mention that those placards Kelly used at Oregon are back. One has a photo of Donald Duck in Oregon gear. Another features the Liberty Bell. And a third shows the Fresh Prince.
Whenever McManus reads this, I’m sure he’ll bust out into, “This is a story all about how…”
Matt Barkley looks for Ifeanyi Momah, but he doesn’t come back for the ball and is pushed over by Jordan Poyer.
Jake Knott deflects a Barkley third-down pass. He had one of those Friday night.
Chung getting tested a lot in coverage in the past week or so. He sticks with Celek on a corner route, breaks it up and then lets the tight end know about it.
Brandon Graham breaks up a Vick pass for Ertz. Perhaps his finest moment in coverage all camp.
2:09 – The ball is placed on the 49 with 51 seconds on the clock and one timeout. Riley Cooper, who is still handling most of the first-team reps opposite Jackson, drops a catchable ball from Vick. Vick then hits Jackson for a first down. This has happened roughly 2,423 times at camp so far.
The offense gets up to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball, but DeMeco Ryans doesn’t want his guys caught off-guard. “Watch the pass now! Stay alert!” he yells to the cornerbacks.
Graham with a “sack” of Foles from the LOLB spot.
And then Barkley’s up. Nice ball over the middle to Igwenagu. He then looks for Momah on a back-shoulder throw. Momah does everything right, except for hold on to the ball. Incomplete.
2:18 – Another practice in the books. We get to sit in on tomorrow’s session. Wednesday’s walk-through is closed to the media. And then we’ve got another game Thursday night vs. Carolina.
12:19 – Bill Belichick’s press conference just ended. I was really hoping McManus would say something to tick him off, but it didn’t happen. Luckily, the Patriots will still be here for a couple more days, so there’s still time.
On a serious note, I thought Belichick’s answer when asked about moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 was interesting.
“I personally never felt like it was that big of a deal,” he said. “People called us a 3-4 team when I was the defensive coordinator with the Giants and Lawrence [Taylor] rushed 85 percent of the time, so everybody treated us like we were a four-man line. But to the media and the fans, it was a 3-4, and vice versa.
“We play an even front, we play on odd front. I’m sure Philadelphia will do the same thing, even having not seen them. I’m sure that we’ll see an even front from them before it’s all over. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
12:23 – The Eagles surprised us and announced that Riley Cooper is back with the team after missing three practices. He runs out onto the field, has a conversation with his position coach Bob Bicknell, is greeted by Jason Avant and starts off practice having a catch with Ifeanyi Momah.
12:33 – A few things stand out. One, there’s no music today. And two, a lot of NFL guys are in attendance, including Jaws, Mike Mayock and Greg Cosell. The tempo of practice is also slower than we’re used to.
1:03 – Tom Brady put on an absolute clinic during one-on-ones. I got video of three of his throws:
Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams, Kurt Coleman, Jordan Poyer, Brandon Boykin, Colt Anderson and others. All tried, and all failed to force an incompletion. Anticipation, timing and accuracy from the future Hall of Famer. On several throws, Eagles defenders had good coverage, but Brady just put the ball on the money where only his receiver could get to it.
When the session was over, I commented to the person next to me that it seemed like Brady didn’t throw an incompletion. And apparently, I was right:
Brady just completed 20-of-20 in first 1-on-1s vs Eagles CBs. Dobson made a filthy one-handed turnaround catch. Boyce 2 difficult grabs.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) August 6, 2013
With all due respect to the Eagles’ quarterbacks, it looked at times today like Brady was playing a different sport.
1:21 – During 7-on-7s, Nick Foles gets the start with the first team. Jason Avant joins DeSean Jackson with the ones. Russell Shepard mixes in too.
Foles looks for Bryce Brown down the right sideline on a wheel route, but linebacker Jerod Mayo does a great job of sticking with him and forces an incompletion.
In the red zone, a Patriots linebacker sets up against Damaris Johnson in the slot. Mismatch? Yes. But not in the way you’re hoping. The linebacker simply shoves Johnson to the ground. That’s well within the rules, as long as it’s within 5 yards.
Foles makes a good throw to Jackson in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. Jackson has been a non-factor in the red zone for most of his career. We’ll see if Chip Kelly can change that.
Foles then hits James Casey in the hands, but he drops it. Casey makes up for it when Michael Vick’s on the field, catching a touchdown on an angle route with a defender on his back. We saw him run a lot of those with the Texans (All-22 here).
Vick looks for Avant in the back of the end zone, but a defender gets his hand on the pass and forces an incompletion.
1:41 – Foles goes with the ones again during 11-on-11s. He gets off to a rough start, looking for Avant on the bubble screen. Patriots corner Aqib Talib reads it and should have had an easy pick six, but he can’t hang on.
Jason Peters is not practicing today. In his place is Allen Barbre. Barbre spent most of camp at guard, but has been playing tackle the last two days. He’s got a chance to earn a backup spot. The coaches clearly are looking to test his versatility.
Foles hands the ball off before taking off in the opposite direction. This fools no one.
This is a “thud” period. No tackling to the ground. But Brown’s strength is on display. Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins delivers a big blow that might have knocked down some running backs, but Brown doesn’t budge.
Foles throws a beauty, which travels about 45 yards in the air down the right sideline to Jackson for a touchdown. Looked like he beat corner Logan Ryan on the play.
I know I say it every day, but Chris Polk with another big run up the middle. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com thinks Polk could challenge Brown for the No. 2 job.
Zach Ertz had a good day, but here he jumps early for a false start. Someone yells, “C’mon Zach!” Can’t tell if it was Kelly or someone else.
On defense, for the first time all camp, Kenny Phillips is running with the first team alongside Patrick Chung. Connor Barwin is out with an illness, meaning Brandon Graham and Trent Cole are your first-team outside linebackers. Graham had been playing mostly with the second team.
Cary Williams and Aaron Dobson get into a scuffle after one rep. Williams is pulled out of the drill and takes a knee on the sideline. That’s where he spent the rest of practice during team periods (more details here from T-Mac).
Brady carves up the Eagles’ secondary, but Mychal Kendricks shoots into the backfield and makes a nice play against the run.
Vick, meanwhile, finds Ertz down the seam for a big gain. He beat Mayo on the play.
Too many screens to Avant today. Not exactly your prototypical YAC guy.
Brown with a drop near the sideline on a Foles pass. More false starts from the Eagles. Looks like backup tackle Matt Kopa and then Brown.
Vick threads one to Ertz in traffic in the red zone and then finds Avant for a touchdown off play-action.
2:03 – Breaking! Brady just threw an incompletion! I’m sure there was one earlier, but this is the first I’ve noticed. Yes, we’re nearly two hours into practice. Good job by DeMeco Ryans in coverage on the play.
Some good moments for the Eagles’ defensive linemen. Cedric Thornton picks up a “sack” and Vinny Curry gets in the backfield on a run play. In the red zone, Kendricks blitzes, and Chung nearly intercepts Brady.
The Eagles’ offense is back on the field. Polk with ANOTHER nice run. Foles looks for Shepard on a go-route down the sideline. Not much separation against Alfonzo Dennard. Shepard had a quiet day.
Felix Jones with a drop from Vick. He has not shown good hands this camp. He’s going to have to earn his spot during the preseason games.
By the way, if you’re wondering where Kelly and Belichick are stationed during these team drills, Kelly stands behind the offense, and Belichick stands behind the defense, almost like a deep safety. In other words, just what you’d expect, given their backgrounds.
In the red zone, Kendricks makes another nice play against the run. In nickel, the Eagles go with Fletcher Cox, Thornton and Trent Cole as their three down linemen. Today, Graham is playing the “joker” role we’ve seen Barwin play in the past.
Brady again carves the Eagles’ secondary up. He ends the drill with a beautiful throw to Amendola on a corner route in the end zone. Phillips can’t get there in time.
2:32 – One more team drill in what has turned out to be a longer practice than usual. Vick goes with the ones. The play breaks down, he rolls to his left and chucks one up for Cooper, who does a nice job of coming down with it in the back of the end zone.
Graham finds himself matched up with Leon Washington on a wheel route down the left sideline and can’t keep up. Tight end Zach Sudfeld then beats Ryans for a touchdown.
Foles is up and makes perhaps his best throw of the day, a perfectly-placed pass on a corner route to Cooper, who beat Dennard.
Then Vick finds Cooper. In a strange twist, this might be Cooper’s best stretch of practice ever as a member of the Eagles. Nice throw by Vick too on the go-route down the left sideline.
2:43 – Lots to work on off this tape for Billy Davis and company. Nate Allen is called for pass interference against Amendola. Brady finds wide receiver Josh Boyce for a big gain down the middle of the field between Casey Matthews and Allen. Then Jamar Chaney is called for pass interference in the end zone.
Radio voice Mike Quick didn’t like the call. “Don’t throw the flag if you can’t see it!” he yells to the ref.
To end practice, the Eagles set up for a field goal. But it’s a fake. Donnie Jones, the holder, takes off around the right side for a touchdown. “I see you, Donnie!” yells a teammate.
2:58 – Nice change of pace today. Let’s do it again tomorrow.
Here’s what we saw today at the Linc:
12:25 – Today was Military Day at the Linc, and that’s important to Chip Kelly. The Eagles’ head coach has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit with troops, and he dedicated Oregon’s spring game to the military. Here’s a YouTube video of Kelly addressing the troops while in the locker room while with the Ducks:
Today, military personnel lined the end zone and the sideline before practice. Eagles players shook their hands before they got started. But Kelly took the time to talk and take photos with pretty much all of them. By my guess, he spent a good 25 minutes making the rounds.
On a football note, the Eagles are not in pads, so expect even less hitting than usual.
1:18 – A couple injury notes. Jason Kelce is out with an ankle injury, and LeSean McCoy is dealing with a knee issue. Neither injury is considered serious, the team said.
1:20 – During 3-on-2s, Jamar Chaney bats down a Matt Barkley pass. I wonder if Barkley is getting a bit frustrated. He told Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times that it’s “kind of rough” battling the unwritten depth chart. Something worth keeping an eye on at least.
Meanwhile, Michael Vick hits DeSean Jackson deep. This has become a daily occurrence. Jackson beat Brandon Hughes.
Good question by McManus as he takes a look at two Eagles near the training table chatting it up: “I wonder what Shady and Ed Wang are talking about.”
Mychal Kendricks breaks up a Dennis Dixon pass intended for Nick Miller. Also, Felix Jones has not shown good hands so far in camp.
1:36 – During 7-on-7 drills, Vick is up first with the ones. Brandon Boykin breaks up a pass over the middle intended for Jason Avant. But later in the drive, Vick finds Avant for a touchdown.
Nick Foles, meanwhile, looks for Ifeanyi Momah on an out pattern to the right side, but Hughes breaks it up. Zach Ertz runs the same route to the left side on the next play, and Foles connects with him. Brandon Graham actually had decent coverage on the play.
Foles looks for Momah on the fade in the right corner of the end zone, but he can’t hang on. Momah’s flashed inconsistent hands during camp. Ertz then drops a slant. Foles not getting a lot of help here.
Barkley makes a nice throw to Damaris Johnson in a tight window over the middle. He then looks for Johnson on a corner route, but Jordan Poyer and Nate Allen have good coverage and force an incompletion.
1:45 -I have never seen this before. A “defend the fake punt” drill. Two assistants stand at the line of scrimmage with blocking pads. Two defenders attack the line of scrimmage, before turning to chase the punter.
Serious question: Why practice defending the fake punt when you know it’s coming?
Meanwhile, in one corner of the end zone, four quarterbacks practice throwing off their back foot. But not G.J. Kinne. He’s on the other side of the field holding a blocking pad and helping with special teams.
“Kinne’s gotta be thinking, ‘This isn’t a good sign,'” says McManus.
By the way, if I hear one more person cal him E.J. Kinne…
1:59 – 11-on-11s. Foles is up first. He launches one to an open space in the end zone. It almost looks like he’s throwing it away, but Jackson speeds to the ball and makes the grab for a 20-yard touchdown. Had to be a defensive miscommunication there.
Vick runs the read option, keeps the ball, runs to his right and then swings it to Jones near the sideline before crossing the line of scrimmage.
Again, no pads. But Chris Polk with another nice run. He’s definitely outplayed Jones up to this point.
Vick rolls to his left, can’t find a receiver and takes off for the end zone. Kelly said yesterday he wants Vick to run if he has nowhere to go with the ball.
“Part of being a good decision-maker is if everybody’s covered, don’t force it,” he said. “If, obviously, people are going to play man coverage and turn their back on you, you looked at the one where [he] probably had a 25‑, 30‑yard gain.”
Barkley is directing traffic, but Dallas Reynolds snaps the ball when he’s not looking. It must be mentioned when evaluating Barkley that he’s playing with a lot of confused players out there.
A new-look starting offensive line, from right tackle to left tackle: Lane Johnson–Todd Herremans–Julian Vandervelde-Evan Mathis-Allen Barbre.
Vandervelde is in for Kelce. Clearly, there’s competition for the backup center job. Barbre, meanwhile, had been practicing exclusively at guard, but is now getting a look at tackle for the first time.
2:09 – One final 11-on-11 team period. Vick fires to Jackson near the sideline, but Eddie Whitley breaks it up. Vick and Jackson connect on the next play though. Beautiful throw down the sideline for a 35-yard gain.
Foles hits Johnson on the slant, and he stops on a dime, getting away from Kurt Coleman and making his way towards the sideline.
On my to-do list for tomorrow: Ask Patrick Chung about the Eagles’ three-safety look. This is the second time I’ve seen them show it with Chung up covering the slot receiver.
Foles looks for Momah on the go-route. He sees the ball in the air, but just can’t separate from Hughes. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but his workout speed has not shown up on the field yet.
Polk shows good burst and gets free for a 20-yard score. Really looking forward to seeing him in the preseason.
Barkley’s pass is tipped by a linebacker, pops up in the air, and Cary Williams picks it off.
Interesting nickel look. Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Trent Cole are your defensive linemen. Connor Barwin is playing a “joker” role, lining up in a variety of places. And on one play, Cox actually drops back into coverage. If that happens more than once a game, Billy Davis may need to turn in his resignation.
That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we get to mix in Bill Belichick jokes. Who’s excited?
Here’s what we saw during today’s session at the Linc.
12:29 – Let the record show that this is the time of Chip Kelly’s first public appearance at the Linc as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly is joined by the quarterbacks and gets a nice ovation. Michael Vick draws a lot of cheers too when he’s shown on the Jumbotron.
LeSean McCoy does the whole “wave to the crowd to make some noise” thing as he comes out of the tunnel. Not quite the same as a Sunday night matchup against the Giants, but a nice gesture nonetheless.
If you’re wondering about the crowd, official word from the Eagles is that 30,000 fans showed up. Some of my colleagues estimated that it was more like 20,000. I do not have the know-how to venture an educated guess. But somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 seems fair to me.
12:36 – Jeremy Maclin gets an ovation too. The day after tearing his ACL, he’s on one crutch watching practice from the sideline. Arrelious Benn (left knee) is not participating. Neither is Cary Williams (hamstring).
12:41 – Our first rendition of the Eagles fight song right before alumni come out onto the field. Brian Dawkins gets a huge ovation. Surprised? Didn’t think so. He and Kelly engage in a nice little bro-hug.
Donovan McNabb also gets a loud ovation. A boo here and there, but overwhelmingly positive from what I can tell. McNabb’s not messing around with the bro-hug. He goes for the full two-hander, Roger Goodell style. McNabb stops for several people, including Kelly, Vick, McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Todd Herremans.
12:45 – Before practice starts up, I get up to go grab soft pretzels for T-Mac and myself. McManus calls me un-American for being anti-mustard.
12:46 – Damnit! No more soft pretzels left! To make matters worse, fans in front of the press box are teasing me with buckets of crab fries. Things are not looking up.
1:15 – Wide receivers work with the quarterbacks. Deep curls and then drag routes across the field. Riley Cooper said after practice that the routes in this system are completely different than the previous one.
1:24 – The offense and defense work together. It looks like the focus is pre-snap motion. Billy Davis uses hand signals to make calls to the safeties.
“The tempo that we practice at really helps communication,” Davis said last week. “It forces everybody to communicate without really using words. Trying to use words, but a lot of times, it’s hand signals and kind of a look at each other of , ‘Hey, this is how we’re going to play this.’ It really challenges you communication-wise.
1:33 – The Eagles flash a stat on the Jumbotron that Vick is the franchise’s all-time leader with an 87.8 QB rating. That can’t be right, can it?
1:34 – Just looked it up. It is indeed accurate. He just edges out Donovan McNabb (86.5).
1:37 – With Maclin out, rookie Jordan Poyer is back fielding punts, alongside Jackson and Damaris Johnson. Poyer returned 10 punts for 67 yards as a senior in college. As a junior, though, he was better (10 returns for 141 yards and a touchdown).
1:40 – I should note that the pads are on today, but this practice bears no resemblance to an Andy Reid practice. Minimal contact, not very physical. These are what many camps around the league now look like, but fans who watched the team at Lehigh in previous years have to be at least a little disappointed.
Vick starts off with the first team, but once again, he and Nick Foles split reps. Cooper sees the bulk of the first-team reps in place of Maclin, but Johnson mixes in a bit too.
Curtis Marsh is filling in for Williams at cornerback with the first team.
On one play, Vick pump-fakes several times before eventually dumping it off toBrent Celek. In a real game, this would have been a sack. From my perspective, both quarterbacks still have quite a few plays like this each practice. It’s a reminder that Kelly is installing an entirely new offense, and there is almost certainly going to be an adjustment period.
1:42 – James Casey lines up out wide with Foles at quarterback. I mentioned this earlier, but just saying the Eagles will replace Maclin with tight ends is over-simplifying it a bit. Kelly likes tight ends because they can create mismatches. But more often than not, when a tight end is lined up out wide against a corner, the advantage goes to the defense.
The Eagles are doing a lot mixing and matching at inside linebacker. Today, Jamar Chaney and Emmanuel Acho are running with the second team.
Matt Barkley lofts a nice ball to Greg Salas on a 7-route, right over Trevard Lindley’s outstretched arms. The crowd loves it.
Barkley later throws towards the sideline, but doesn’t get a lot of zip on the ball, and outside linebacker Chris McCoy, dropping in coverage, gets a hand on it, forcing the incompletion.
1:46 – A drop for Celek. The crowd is not pleased. According to Pro Football Focus, Celek dropped 12.3 percent of the catchable balls thrown his way last year, sixth-worst among tight ends. The change-ups continue at linebacker. This time, Casey Matthews goes with Mychal Kendricks on the first team.
1:50 – An interesting look from the offense during 11-on-11 drills. Jackson in the slot and Zach Ertz is out wide on the same side. Lots of run plays here, including Vick keeping the ball on the zone read and taking it to the left sideline.
1:53 – Foles takes over and lines up under center, not shotgun. Don’t see that very often during Eagles practices.
The second-team defensive line is Clifton Geathers, Damion Square and Vinny Curry.
1:54 – The Eagles run what initially seems like a read-option play, but instead of taking off, Vick unleashes a pass to McCoy, who is out wide.
In nickel, the Eagles go with Fletcher Cox, Bennie Logan, Trent Cole and Connor Barwin up front. Later, Cedric Thornton rotates in for Logan.
Foles looks for Ifeanyi Momah deep down the right sideline, but Lindley is all over him. The Eagles raved about Momah’s speed, but I haven’t seen him separate much from corners on deep balls.
2:00 – Wide receiver/defensive back one-on-ones. Russell Shepard streaks down the left sideline on a go-route and makes a leaping grab over Brandon Hughes. The crowd loves it. Still not sure if he’ll make the team, but Shepard continues to make plays.
Safety Kenny Phillips with good coverage on WR Will Murphy. He nearly intercepts Foles.
Jason Avant shakes David Sims with a beautiful move, but Barkley is off-target with his throw as the crowd Oooohs and Aaaahs. Every summer, Avant schools defensive backs during one-on-ones. He puts on a clinic with his route-running.
Dennis Dixon lofts a beautiful deep ball down the right sideline for a 40-yard completion to Jackson, who beats Bradley Fletcher deep for the second day in a row.
2:06 – During special teams, there’s not a lot for McCoy to do. He walks over to the sideline and puts his arm around Jeffrey Lurie.
“Did I ever tell you how much I appreciate that $46 million you’re throwing my way, big guy?”
McCoy then chats with Miami Heat coach Erik Spolestra, who is presumably here as a guest of Kelly’s. Spolestra picked Kelly’s brain about spacing last offseason, according to SI.com’s Chris Ballard.
2:17 – Offensive/defensive linemen one-on-ones in the far corner of the stadium. One of my favorite drills of training camp, but I can’t see much from the press box.
2:25 – The offense does not look sharp today. Foles targets Jackson, but the pass is broken up by Fletcher. Trent Cole comes up with what wold have been a sack on Foles had he been allowed to hit the quarterback.
Vick hands off to Bryce Brown, who goes east-west out of bounds for a loss.
The defense shows a look with what appears to be one down lineman. Brandon Graham stands up in the A-Gap. Curry is standing up too. Vick is pressured before taking off and fleeing the pocket.
Jackson makes a nice catch on a low throw from Foles on a screen. Foles then targets Jackson on a go-route down the right sideline, but the ball hits Lindley in the helmet.
Vick runs play-action, rolls to his left, can’t get away from Phillip Hunt and throws across his body into the ground in Momah’s direction.
I already mentioned the offense doesn’t look good today, right? OK, just checking.
Foles runs the read-option and keeps it. Remember when Kelly said he should be fired if he runs the read-option 20 times a game with Foles? I think by 20, he might have meant 1.
Avant motions and catches a screen, but Brandon Boykin would have Sheldon Brown’d him if hitting were allowed.
If you feel like these practice notes haven’t been very flattering, this should cheer you up:
2:38 – Tomorrow we’re back at NovaCare. Until then…
Here is an excerpt from our first post:
The Eagles are coming off a devastatingly disappointing season and the head coach, ring-less for 13 years and counting, is in full fight-out-of-the-corner mode. Joe Banner has been exiled, the organization is potentially on the verge of a significant restructuring but no worries, says the quarterback, the Eagles have what it takes to create a dynasty. You get the feeling, one way or another, something big is about to go down.
We all know how it played out. The Eagles went 4-12, Andy Reid was fired after 14 years of service, and Chip Kelly got the gig following a roller-coaster coaching search. Now, a lot about the team is unrecognizable. The roster, the staff, the philosophy, practices, even the training camp location has changed. The old guard has been replaced by the new school.
Is the new school legit? That question will keep the Eagles in the national spotlight for the foreseeable future. That, and a quarterback competition/controversy that could ultimately involve three different players.
It is an amazing time to follow this team. There are endless story lines and so many questions to be answered. And it all starts now. We’re excited to get it going.
Here is a breakdown of what to expect in the coming days and weeks:
Rookies and selected vets report. Media availability runs from 12-4, so expect your Twitter feed to be filled with action shots of large men walking into buildings around lunchtime. Thirty players in all are scheduled to show, including the newly-signed Lane Johnson. Michael Vick, Nick Foles and tight end James Casey are among the veterans slated to check into NovaCare Monday.You can find the full list here.
Tuesday, July 23 12:30 Rookies practice NovaCare
Wednesday, July 24 12:30 Rookies practice NovaCare
Thursday, July 25 Full team reports Friday, July 26 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Saturday, July 27 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Sunday, July 28 12:30 Full practice The Linc
Monday, July 29 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Tuesday, July 30 Day off Wednesday, July 31 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Thursday, Aug. 1 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Friday, Aug. 2 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Saturday, Aug. 3 Day off Sunday, Aug. 4 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Monday, Aug. 5 12:30 Full practice The Linc
Tuesday, Aug. 6 12:30 Full practice with the Patriots NovaCare
Wednesday, Aug. 7 12:30 Full practice with the Patriots NovaCare
Thursday, Aug. 8 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Friday, Aug. 9 7:30 Preseason game vs. Patriots The Linc
Saturday, Aug. 10 Day off Sunday, Aug. 11 12:30 Full practice The Linc
Monday, Aug. 12 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Tuesday, Aug. 13 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Wednesday, Aug. 14 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Thursday, Aug. 15 7:30 Preseason game vs. Panthers The Linc
Friday, Aug. 16 Day off. Saturday, Aug. 17 12:30 Full practice The Linc
Sunday, Aug. 18 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Monday, Aug. 19 Day off Tuesday, Aug. 20 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Wednesday, Aug. 21 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Thursday, Aug. 22 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Friday, Aug. 23 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Saturday, Aug. 24 7:30 Preseason game at Jags EverBank Field
Sunday, Aug. 25 Day off Monday, Aug. 26 12:30 Full practice The Linc
Tuesday, Aug. 27 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Wednesday, Aug. 28 12:30 Full practice NovaCare
Thursday, Aug. 29 7:00 Preseason game at Jets MetLife Stadium
Practices at the Linc
Sunday, July 28 – Alumni Day (Donovan McNabb and Chuck Bednarik have committed to be in attendance, according to Sal Paolantonio. Some of the players will begin signing autographs for fans in the HeadHouse Plaza at 10:30 am.)
Monday, August 5 – Military Appreciation Day
Sunday, August 11 – Bobblehead Giveaways (The first 10,000 kids entering Lincoln Financial Field, ages 12-and-under, will receive a LeSean McCoy mini-bobblehead doll.)
Saturday, August 17 – Health and Safety Day
Monday, August 26
More than 200,000 tickets (which are free) have been reserved, according to team president Don Smolenski. Go to PhiladelphiaEagles.com if you would like to attend one of the practices at Lincoln Financial Field. Practices at NovaCare are by invite only.
If you’re wondering how much hitting there will be or need more on the camp’s structure under Kelly, here’s a full primer.
WHAT YOU MISSED
There will be no holdouts this season, as the Eagles and Lane Johnson came to terms over the weekend.
All the latest buzz on the Birds heading into training camp.
On Kelly, math and “response after turnover.”
Sheil rounds out his position previews with a look at the safeties.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The No. 1 question Don Banks has entering training camp: Can the Eagles master Chip Kelly’s up-tempo, fast-break offense and exit the preseason looking like an NFL version of the Oregon Ducks?
…OTAs are an entirely different game compared to the preseason, when the shoulder pads go on, the hitting commences and the intensity gets ramped up a notch or three. That’s when we’ll start to see the full effect of Kelly’s break-neck style of offense, and whether or not it can be sustained by his NFL-sized roster.
Complicating the situation, of course, is the quarterback competition that will rage in the coming weeks, with Michael Vick, Nick Foles and maybe even rookie Matt Barkley vying to prove their skill set is the best fit for Kelly’s aggressive and attacking approach. The sooner the Eagles’ offense identifies its trigger man, the better. Starting next week, all seat belts should be fastened for a full-speed takeoff in Philly.
The Delco Times caught up with former Oregon LB/DE Brandon Hanna to find out more about Kelly.
DT: Do you think Kelly’s training methods will translate to the NFL?
Hanna: “In terms of structure, coaching and knowledge, I think the Eagles are going to be very well-off. Along with Chip, (defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro) is the best coach I have ever played for. They both do everything they can to get the most out of players. Whether it’s athletically, nutritionally, personally or spiritually, they take everything into account.”
DT: What type of player will thrive under Coach Kelly?
Hanna: “The players who push themselves and sacrifice for the team. That’s the mind set you have to have with Chip. He say, ‘We’re going to win with the right people doing the right things.’ If you weren’t a team player and couldn’t abide by the rules set forth, you were gone.
Football season. Congratulations, you’ve made it.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.
When Billy Davis met with reporters back in the spring, he used words like multiple to describe his scheme. He also made one point repeatedly: The Eagles’ defense would bear little or no resemblance to the unit that took the field last year.
“We’re not going to run the Wide-9 4-3,” Davis said. “I know that we’re moving away from that with players that were picked for that and were built for that.”
In 2011 and 2012, all aspects of the defense started with the four pass-rushers up front. But the days of defensive ends lining up out wide, pinning their ears back and attacking the quarterback on every down are over. The Eagles have switched to a 3-4, and the defensive linemen will now be expected to do a fair share of the dirty work, freeing up the linebackers to make plays.
The roster turnover has been dramatic. Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson, Derek Landri and Darryl Tapp are gone. Brandon Graham, Trent Cole and Phillip Hunt have made the switch to outside linebacker.
In free agency, the Eagles added nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga, who has already been described as the leader of this group. And they spent a third-round pick on LSU’s Bennie Logan.
The pressing question: Where does Vinny Curry fit in?
The 2012 second-round pick did not make the switch to outside linebacker in the spring. Instead, he bulked up and got reps at defensive end, mostly with the second team.
Curry’s had to deal with unfavorable circumstances so far. He’s only played 89 snaps in the league, per Pro Football Focus, yet he’s already on his third defensive line coach. He’ll have to prove this summer that he’s a fit in his new role. If that doesn’t happen, there’s at least a chance that the Eagles part ways with Curry before the regular season.
Don’t be surprised if…
Cox has a Pro Bowl season. He was impressive on tape as a rookie and showed consistent improvement, even as the defense was falling apart around him.
Davis has said repeatedly that he will scheme around his talent, and Cox is the most gifted player he has to work with. The ceiling for the 2012 first-round pick is high. It’ll be up to the coaches to find a way to unleash him.
Roster battles to watch
The locks to make the roster are Cox, Sopoaga, Logan and Thornton. Beyond that, spots are up for grabs.
Rookies Joe Kruger (seventh round), David King (seventh round) and Damion Square (undrafted) obviously fit the Chip Kelly mold since he’s the guy who drafted them. They’ll battle for spots against veterans like Curry, Clifton Geathers and Antonio Dixon.
As far as starters go, pencil Cox and Sopoaga in. The other DE spot is up for grabs. Based on spring ball, it looks like Thornton is the favorite.
The Eagles will likely use a rotation up front, so whoever makes the final 53-man roster should expect to see the field on gamedays.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Love for Nick Foles and a “rude awakening” for Jason Peters in our latest national media roundup.
How much hitting will there be? Where will players sleep? Kelly recently revealed training camp details.
“We’re not revolutionizing anything,” says Kelly. The coach explains his philosophy on communication.
Kelly explains why he made the decision to bring Michael Vick back.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
SI.com’s Stewart Mandel released a list of his top-10 college coaches. He addressed where he’d have Kelly ranked if he were still at Oregon:
You’d be hard-pressed to find many college coaches who enjoyed a better four-year run than Kelly’s stint at Oregon, which included a 46-7 record, four BCS bowls, three Pac-12 titles and a national championship game appearance. Plus, he was one of the sport’s greatest innovators in recent memory. I’d have a hard time placing Kelly above two coaches, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, with multiple national titles, or above Chris Petersen, who has a similarly gaudy record with far fewer resources. So Kelly would have landed at No. 4.
In a PhiladelphiaEagles.com piece, Tommy Lawlor explains why he thinks the team will be better against the run:
Beyond the front seven, the defense will be better against the run for a couple of reasons. First is scheme. The wide nine front put tremendous pressure on the defensive backs. They weren’t just part of run support. They were tasked with being primary run defenders. Defensive coordinator Bill Davis watched 2012 tape and talked about how difficult it must have been for safeties to come up and cover the A and B gaps. This doesn’t happen in most schemes.
The other big help to the run defense is the acquisition of Patrick Chung￼. He is a bigger, stronger and more physical safety than Kurt Coleman￼, the player he’s competing with for a starting spot. No one would ever question Coleman’s effort. Chung is a better tackler and can be an impact hitter. When he comes down into the box, he can make a real difference.
Rookies report a week from today. So many storylines, so little time.
Last month, Chip Kelly sat down with reporters and offered insight into how he plans on running his first training camp in the NFL.
“It’s going to be the same thing we did here,” Kelly said, referring to OTAs and mini-camps. “It’s not like we’re going to drastically change from what we did. If we did, then basically, we’re kind of full of crap on what we did in the whole offseason. It’s more of the same in terms of what our approach is.”
The major difference, of course, will be that the players will have pads on. And there will be an added intensity with roster cuts and the preseason right around the corner.
Below is a breakdown of what to expect.
Rookies report to the NovaCare Complex on Monday, July 22, and their first practice is July 23.
The full team reports on Thursday, July 25, and the first full-team practice is Friday, July 26.
The first preseason game against the Patriots is Friday, August 9.
Rosters must be trimmed to 75 players by 4 p.m. on August 27. And then again to 53 by 6 p.m. on August 31.
Click here for the full training camp and preseason schedule.
Kelly must balance a couple factors when deciding how physical he wants his camp to be. On one hand, he’s stressing competition and wants players to know they’re fighting for jobs and playing time. On the other hand, he’s well aware that this is just the beginning of a long season, and he wants his guys healthy when the real games start.
“That’s the big Catch-22 for all coaches, is how much work do you need to get done, but also you don’t want to injure your own players in practice,” Kelly said. “But that’s kind of a fine line. It’s the toughest one I think coaches have to handle. How physical can your practices be, because the game is certainly going to be physical. But you always kind of keep your fingers crossed that you’re not going to get anybody hurt in practice.”
In college, Kelly had scrimmages, but no preseason games. He indicated that seeing how players react in full-contact situations against other opponents will factor significantly in making roster decisions.
“If you can’t be physical and hit people, then it’s an entirely different game,” he said. “So the offseason is an entirely different game than the preseason, just for that fact.”
Asked if there will be tackling to the ground during training camp, he said, “We’ll have some scrimmage situations.”
The guess here is that Kelly’s camp won’t be as physical as Andy Reid’s, but he’ll pick his spots to push players.
Kelly made the decision to hold camp in South Philly instead of Lehigh.
“I just think we have everything here, so the fact that we would pack everything up and move, I think that didn’t make sense to me,” he said. “All our video stuff is here, so … all our [internet] servers are here, so you’re dealing with portable laptops and hoping to get practice on them. You have issues when it rains, where do you go? Our training facility in terms of how we want to lift … why would you move everything and go somewhere else?”
Part of the reason Reid held camp at Lehigh was to build camaraderie among the players, who were stuck with each other during every waking moment. Here, all of the players will stay in a nearby hotel together at the start of camp. The veterans will then be allowed to move back out and stay with their families.
All of the meals will be eaten at the NovaCare Complex.
“Meetings are here. Everything’s here. The only thing they’re going to do at the hotel is sleep,” Kelly said.
The main practice each day will take place at 12:30 p.m.
“That’s when we play,” Kelly explained. “Twelve or 14 of our 16 games are played at 1 o’clock.”
A reporter jokingly asked Kelly if he’d practice in the evening before night games, but the head coach answered seriously. It was clearly something he had thought about.
“No, because I think it throws your schedule off a little bit to do that just for one day,” he said. “If we were going to play six or seven games consecutively at that time, we would try to change our schedule slightly.”
The actual practices will likely look similar to what we saw in the spring. They will be up-tempo with music playing, and the goal will be to maximize reps. Most of the one-on-one teaching will take place in the classroom.
“If you stop one guy in a drill, then there’s 21 other guys standing around, so how much time can you spend on the field?” Kelly said. “Our educational philosophy is: I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, and I do and I understand. And so we want them doing it. You can only talk so much and show them so much and tell them so much; they have to actually do it.
“When you go to some practices and they only get 15 reps at something and they only ran one play one way just to the left, the right tackle never got a rep at it. And then you expect him to execute it in a game, you know. Who’s to blame? Us, because we didn’t probably put him in that situation. We had a chance to see what just happened to him. We’re trying to get as many reps as we can and then be efficient with cutting our practice tape up, so that when we go into our meetings usually what they did well you don’t have to repeat that because they have it.”
Training camp moving to Philly is pretty much a good thing for me. I live 15 minutes from the complex. Gone are the hour-and-a-half commutes. No more battling traffic on 309. The days are shorter and I’ll have fewer opportunities to jam fast food down my gullet on the ride home. My wife is psyched because in theory (in theory) I should be able to hold up my end of the bargain on the home front a bit better.
Lots of positives. But a tradition is ending and with training camp around the corner, I’m getting a little sentimental about an era gone by. So,I figured I’d list the five things I’ll miss the most about training camp at Lehigh.
1) The common struggle. If you’re a Philadelphian and you want to watch the Eagles practice, then dammit, you will wake up at 5 am, be on the road by 6, power up the Northeast extension, park your weary car at the bottom of the hill, walk your sorry tail up to the practice fields, and you will bake in that Bethlehem sun for the next six hours and like it.
Anyone can go to a practice at the Linc. But to be part of training camp at Lehigh, you had to earn it. And something about that was pretty cool.
2) The Trailer Of Doom. The media trailer was that of legend. Parked just off the practice fields, this is where we spent a lot of our time in between sessions. Bare bones stuff. Just wood tables, metal chairs and out-of-shape reporters. It inevitably would take on the look of a frat house as camp wore on, with pizza boxes and water bottles and beer cans overflowing from the trash cans onto the tables and floors. Smelled like a combination of suntan lotion, sweat, and, well, old beer and pizza. Only thing worse was the Porta Potty a few yards away that we were stuck with.
Why would I miss such a thing? No idea.
3) Walking into Deja Brew for a bite to eat only to find a barefooted Reuben Frank lounging on the couch, iced tea in hand, jamming to The Kinks. Don’t think they’ll let him get away with that in the NovaCare cafeteria, though I’d love to see it. And the sandwiches. They have killer sandwiches.
4) The unique setting. You only spend a couple weeks in the tranquil hills of Lehigh, then it disappears from your life for the rest of the year. That makes the memories hatched there all the more vivid. I don’t have the best recall in the world, but I can remember exactly where Michael Vick stood when he first addressed reporters following his birthday party-gone-wrong in the summer of 2010. (He was pinned against the brick wall of the check-in building, across from the Sayre Park dorms, just left of the exit.) There are a hundred other examples. All events, both big and small, resonate a bit more because of the original backdrop.
5) The fan-player intimacy. I’m sure the Eagles’ brass has spent lots of hours trying to figure out how to best bottle the Lehigh feel and ship it down to South Philly. But it will be tough to do. There are simply fewer dates for players and fans to be together, and practice at a stadium is sure to feel far more structured than one on a remote college campus. More barriers, less common ground, despite their intentions.
The Eagles are changing with the times, and much of the change is for the better. But we have a soft spot in our hearts for Lehigh.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The odds are against the Eagles in the NFC East race.
A look at where the Eagles draft picks stand going into training camp.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Pro Football Focus did a study on how the respective NFC East quarterbacks respond to pressure. On Vick:
Vick struggles when pressure comes off either tackle and, like most quarterbacks, he struggles when it comes through the center as well. The Eagles invested in first-round OT Lane Johnson who is projected to start at right tackle and if he lives up to the hype, they’ll have solid bookends with the return of LT Jason Peters. Interestingly enough, Vick’s best work comes when pressure comes through left guard, but Evan Mathis’ strong pass protection makes that a rare sight.
Could the Eagles turn to Matt Barkley? Chris McPherson of PhiladelphiaEagles.com offers his thoughts.
In a word, yes. Barkley was drafted by the Eagles with the first pick in the fourth round after the team ranked him as one of the 50 best players in the entire NFL Draft. Barkley was potentially a surefire first-round pick in the past, but he has done nothing but look ahead to the future since arriving in Philadelphia. Assistant coaches have praised Barkley for his work ethic and he’s shown uncommon poise for a first-year player.
Thirteen days until training camp.