Eagles Practice Observations

Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach Howard MuddIt was time for Howard Mudd to gather both sides together.

The Eagles were in the middle of a grueling practice in the Lehigh heat. They already had one live period, which involved tackling and hitting. There had been scraps, fights and activity after the whistle, often between the offensive and defensive lines.

Mudd buttered all the linemen up a little, telling them that they were the most competitive players on the field, but also reminding them that they’re working towards the same goals.

“Just talking about camaraderie, talking about where we need to go and what we need to do to get there,” said defensive tackle Derek Landri, who was involved in a scuffle with Jason Kelce and Demetress Bell. “Knocking off side chatter, side things from happening. Don’t let anything get in the way of where we need to go as an offensive and defensive line. Talking [about how] we both have a lot of talent on each side and to come together and not be individuals.

“When Coach Mudd talks, we listen,” Landri continued. “Hall of Fame player, going to be a Hall of Fame coach. Been through a lot of stuff, done big things in this league, so we all have a lot of respect for him”

The guess here is that Mudd and his buddy Jim Washburn have seen hundreds of training camp skirmishes in their day. They might even be sharing a laugh about it right now. But protecting Michael Vick and getting to opposing quarterbacks like Eli Manning and Tony Romo will go a long way in determining the Eagles’ success this season.

In other words, don’t expect either group to back down in the coming weeks.

Other practice observations:

* During wide receiver/cornerback one-on-one drills, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie got a good jam on DeSean Jackson at the line of scrimmage, but the play-making wide receiver got past him and hauled in a beautifully-thrown deep ball from Michael Vick. Next up was Jeremy Maclin vs. Brandon Boykin to the left side of Vick. The Eagles quarterback let his receiver gain a step deep and then delivered another pass right on the money. The Birds will continue to be a big-play offense in 2012, and when Vick has a chance to hit Maclin or Jackson deep, he needs to connect.

* How’s this for a first-team defensive line? Cullen Jenkins at left defensive end, Derek Landri and Fletcher Cox inside and Trent Cole at right defensive end. With Mike Patterson out and Jason Babin sidelined, that’s the group that played together a lot today. The Eagles showed a look we saw last year with the defensive ends standing up inside and getting running starts towards the quarterback, while the defensive tackles shifted outside.

* Cole doesn’t care who he’s up against. He plays like a mad man even at practice. During the first play of the hitting period, the second-team offense ran Dion Lewis to the right. Cole didn’t care. He hustled to that side and pulled out the old Superman move where he flies to the pile before the whistle blows.

* Cox is getting a lot of tough love from Washburn, but he doesn’t seem to mind. The defensive line coach has something to say to the rookie after seemingly every play.

* Jamar Chaney got beat once by LeSean McCoy in coverage, but otherwise had a strong day, making several tackles near the line of scrimmage.

* Lewis has had a strong two days and appears to be firmly in place as the backup to McCoy right now. Bryce Brown, who had a couple nice runs, looks to be ahead of Chris Polk on the depth chart.

* Cliff Harris made a nice play, breaking up a Vick pass intended for Maclin near the sidelines. Harris is fighting for one of the backup cornerback jobs. His chances will be helped if he can impress as a returner also.

* Officially, Duce Staley is in charge of special teams quality control. But with the afternoon practice less than a minute in, he didn’t like what he saw from Stanley Havili, who apparently was looking down while carrying the ball and running through the ropes on the ground. Staley instructed the fullback to walk back and do the drill again – this time correctly.

* Havili has been getting all the first-team reps at fullback. Emil Igwenagu, an undrafted free agent fullback out of UMass, took a big hit from Harris, but stayed on his feet to pick up some extra yards.

* I wrote earlier about the roster battles along the Eagles defensive line. One guy who hasn’t stood out much is Antonio Dixon. He’s squarely on the bubble right now.

* For the first time since the team selected him, Jaiquawn Jarrett looked like the player the Eagles described when they drafted him in the second round. T-Mac’s got all the details in a separate post.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.