Eagles Practice Observations
No running diary from today’s session. With the rain falling, note-taking proved to be a bit of a challenge.
And the truth is, the setup was pretty much identical to the previous two practices that were open to the media. So if you’re looking for detailed accounts on how Chip Kelly is running these sessions, click here or here.
Below are some observations from today. We get another look Friday, and there are three open practices next week.
* As we mentioned earlier, Jason Peters was missing from practice today. That left the Eagles with an offensive line of Lane Johnson (RT), Todd Herremans (RG), Dallas Reynolds (C), Allen Barbre (LG) and Dennis Kelly (LT). This was the first time we’ve seen Johnson running with the first team. Kelly had been getting the nod at right tackle, but he moved over to the left side.
* One name missing from that group is Danny Watkins. There was an opening for the third-year player, but it instead went to Barbre. A six-year veteran, Barbre has spent time with the Packers and Seahawks. Originally a fourth-round pick back in 2007, he was suspended for four games last season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The Seahawks ended up releasing him, and Barbre did not play in the league. Watkins, meanwhile, practiced at left guard with the second team.
* Completed passes were hard to come by in what was an overall sloppy day for the offense. On one play, wide receiver Nick Miller was downfield blocking a defensive back, but apparently, he was supposed to be in a route because Nick Foles threw the ball at his back. Riley Cooper, meanwhile, dropped a beautiful 40-yard pass from Michael Vick.
* By my count, Vick spent three team periods (meaning the offense goes against the defense) as the starter, while Foles got the nod for two. On the last team period of the day, Vick and LeSean McCoy fumbled a handoff on the first rep. Kelly blew the whistle and called for the second team.
* Today was a big insertion day, Kelly said, meaning a bunch of new plays were installed. That could be part of the reason for the sloppiness. On one play, Chris Polk lined up to Matt Barkley’s left and McCoy was to his right. Barkley took the shotgun snap, faked the handoff to Polk, and McCoy circled behind him, running a wheel route down the left sideline.
* During 7-on-7 drills, there are no offensive or defensive linemen. But Kelly didn’t want to make things easy at the line of scrimmage for his quarterbacks. So he had three assistants wear special contraptions to simulate 6-4 defensive linemen. They were basically shoulder pads with black boards attached to the back that extended up about 3 feet past each guy’s head. No word on if Kelly plans to take the idea to Shark Tank this offseason. I’m sure Mark Cuban would be interested for the right offer.
* Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Vick fired one pass directly into the board for an incompletion. Like I said, rough day for the offense.
* One bright spot though that will make this crowd happy: Vick hit 6-7 WR Ifeanyi Momah for a touchdown during the red-zone period.
* Interesting unbalanced line look on one play. Dennis Kelly moved to the right of Johnson, essentially giving the Eagles two right tackles. To the right of the center were three offensive linemen. And to the left was a guard and the tight end.
* Defensive coordinator Billy Davis tried to explain last week that the coaching staff is still feeling out roles for many of the players. I’m convinced Trent Cole is one of the guys he’s talking about. Today, Cole lined up as one of three down linemen (Clifton Geathers and Fletcher Cox were the others) during one part of practice. Cole has also seen plenty of reps at right outside linebacker. I’m not sure exactly where the veteran is going to fit in. And I’m not sure Davis does either.
* Disguise is going to be a big part of Davis’ scheme. On one play, Cox, Connor Barwin and Mychal Kendricks were all lined up on the left side, standing up near the line of scrimmage. The Eagles only had two down linemen on the play. Remember, Davis comes from the Dick LeBeau/Dom Capers school of zone blitzing. Part of that is simply trying to disguise who’s rushing and who’s dropping back on any given play.
* Curtis Marsh and Bradley Fletcher were the first-team cornerbacks, as has been the case during all three practices open to the media. This is the first time Cary Williams has been present. He lined up with the second team. At safety, Nate Allen and Patrick Chung lined up with the first team. More here on the cornerbacks from T-Mac.
* On one play, Foles rolled to his right, and Brandon Graham gave chase from the left outside linebacker spot. Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro ran after him yelling. Sometimes, from afar, it’s tough to know whether coaches are ripping a player or praising a player. But in this case, Bo Wulf of PhiladelphiaEagles.com convinced me that Azzinaro was actually praising Graham for his effort.
* Some 4-2-5 nickel looks with four down linemen today. One of them was a bit of a flashback to last year. Graham and Cole were the defensive ends, and Cox/Cedric Thornton the defensive tackles.