Eagles Practice Observations: Ryans Makes His Mark

The drill matched up a seventh-year veteran with 86 career starts against a rookie seventh-round pick searching for a roster spot.

DeMeco Ryans vs. Bryce Brown. A one-on-one coverage drill pitting linebackers and defensive backs against running backs and wide receivers. The offensive players generally have the advantage with this setup, and there are many more completed passes than passes broken up.

On this particular play, however, there was neither.

Ryans took full advantage of the rule that allows defensive players to make contact with offensive players within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, delivering a big jam on Brown, knocking him off-balance and eventually, to the ground. Quarterback Trent Edwards never even got a chance to attempt a pass.

Later, during the hitting portion of practice, Ryans made a good read and tackle on Dion Lewis near the line of scrimmage. And he brought down Chad Hall in coverage after a short gain. Slowly but surely, it seems like the veteran is making his presence felt.

More practice observations:

* At the beginning of camp, the story was that the Eagles were looking at other tight ends and wanted to push Clay Harbor. But since then, Harbor has had an outstanding camp, catching everything thrown his way. On a 3rd-and-long play during the hitting portion of practice, he hauled in a pass from Michael Vick over the middle and dragged a couple defenders with him for extra yardage and a first down. Earlier, in a blitz pickup drill, Harbor stoned Brian Rolle.

* Chris Polk has shown some flashes during the last two days of camp. Today, with the offense backed up at its own goal line, he burst through the line of scrimmage for what was about a 55-yard run. Jaiquawn Jarrett, who played with the first team since Nate Allen was sidelined, had a chance to bring him down earlier, but took a bad angle and couldn’t catch up. Polk fought off Curtis Marsh downfield for some extra yards also. Earlier in practice, Polk had a drop, but he also made a great one-handed catch on a wheel route down the right sideline.

* With the Eagles’ first-team offense facing a 2nd-and-1, Andy Reid called for Brown to enter the game. He picked up a first down and then some on a run to the left side, much to the delight of Duce Staley, who cheered him on from the sideline.

* I like a lot of what I see from Brown, but blitz pickup does not fall in that category. He’s been honest in saying he’s never had to block before, and it’s shown.

* We saw some mixed tackling results out of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He made a fundamentally sound tackle on fullback Emil Igwenagu in the flat on one play. But later, Rodgers-Cromartie launched himself at Brown and failed to bring him down as the running back picked up some extra yards.

* I’m not sure I’ve seen an incomplete pass to Jason Avant during wide receiver/defensive back one-on-ones. He knows exactly what he wants to do as a route-runner and doesn’t drop the ball. Avant schools cornerbacks young and old on a daily basis.

* Speaking of one-on-ones, DeSean Jackson (who later suffered an ankle injury) schooled Rodgers-Cromartie with a double-move. Jackson lined up to the right of Vick, ran a 10-yard out, and Rodgers-Cromartie bit badly. He then went vertical for a 60-yard touchdown from Vick. Give the cornerback some credit. After realizing he got beat, Rodgers-Cromartie accelerated towards Jackson and nearly caught up to him before the ball landed in his hands.

* Pretty much every day, Lewis picks up a big gain on a screen pass. As I’ve mentioned, the second-year back looks quick and shifty as a receiver.

* Excellent job by LeSean McCoy on Kurt Coleman in the blitz pickup drill. He’s no Brian Westbrook, but if he can consistently replicate that execution in games, he’ll be on his way.

* I wish I would have kept track of offsides penalties during camp. It seems to me Antonio Dixon jumps at least once a day.

* On 4th-and-6, rookie Brandon Boykin made an excellent tackle on Hall after a short completion. It would have been a turnover on downs had this, you know, been an actual game. Boykin has looked like a sure tackler so far at camp.

* Former Eagles wide receiver Irving Fryar was in the house today and received a big hug from owner Jeffrey Lurie on the sideline. Fryar put up outstanding numbers in three seasons with the Birds. He is second and third on the franchise list with 88 and 86 catches, respectively, in 1996 and 1997. And Fryar’s 1,316 receiving yards in 1997 is second to only Mike Quick, who had 1,409 in 1983.

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