Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
Here you go…
1:09 – Being a football player is a strange profession. Michael Vick is a grown 32-year-old man. Yet, when he’s at work, he still has to announce when he is going to the bathroom.
“Hey Bill,” Vick says, getting the attention of quarterbacks coach Billy Lazor, before pointing to the port-a-potty on the side of the field.
Quarterbacks and wide receivers start off together. The receivers are running 20-yard comeback routes, while the QBs are throwing on the move. The key, as offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur explains, is to sell the idea that they’re going deep to the defensive backs so that they create some space.
Love how Riley Cooper gets himself pumped during practice. “Oooh, stop on a dime,” he says to himself as he, well, stops on a dime and comes back for the football.
One thing I’ve noticed Nick Foles work on is using his eyes to look off defenders. Obviously, this is something that’s a lot more difficult when you’re going up against a real defense, but the second-year player is trying to work on the finer details of the position.
Next up is work against the blitz. Everyone lines up as a slot receiver. This is the same drill as yesterday. The slot corner blitzes, and the QB has to get rid of the ball quickly. “As fast as you can!” shouts Lazor.
He then informs the receivers that they’re going up against a simulated Cover-3. Receivers are running posts, and the details are explained thoroughly: Go 15 yards, and then break inside at a 25-degree angle.
And finally, more work against the blitz. This time, receivers are running shallow crossers. “Sense of urgency when you feel pressure,” says wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell. Normally, QBs are taught to avoid bad habits. But here, they are actually practicing throwing off their back foot against pressure.
1:19 – I’m really tired of mentioning the five quarterbacks/five wide receivers drill, so I tried to shoot some video. The quality was horrible. Not just horrible, but unusable. I’ll try again tomorrow. Sorry.
1:30 – We move to the other practice field. I’ll warn you now: It’s tougher to see over here.
1:37 – Foles gets the start with the ones. On defense, it looks like Bradley Fletcher at left cornerback and Cary Williams at right cornerback. It’s worth noting that they’ve each seen action on both sides.
1:43 – A teach period with the starting defensive line of Fletcher Cox, Antonio Dixon and Clifton Geathers. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis mentions the words “fire zone.” Remember, Davis started his NFL career with Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the early ’90s. He said recently that those days had a big influence on him.
There are several variations of fire zone blitzes, but the basic idea is to rush five and drop six into coverage. The key is to disguise where the five rushers are coming from. It’ll be fun to see how Davis does that once the season starts.
Some of you asked about Cedric Thornton yesterday. He has a quad injury and is not practicing fully. The second team is Vinny Curry, Bennie Logan and David King.
Another sign that there’s an afternoon Phillies game: the Taxi Crab just drove by.
1:47 – Time for 11-on-11 team drills. Foles rolls with the ones again as Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy comes on. If I had to put one song on my “do not play” list, I think that would be it.
Again, we don’t want to put too much stock into the depth chart, but rookie Earl Wolff gets a few reps with the ones, alongside Patrick Chung. For most of practice (and most of the spring), it’s been Chung and Nate Allen. Undrafted free agent linebacker Jake Knott also gets some run with the twos in place of Jamar Chaney. Later, it’s back to Chaney and Jason Phillips.
1:58 – Big & Rich’s Comin’ To Your City comes on, which reminds me, I can’t wait to introduce my daughter to Saturday mornings at the Kapadia household in the fall. Coffee, eggs and the tremendous trio of Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso. She’ll be 11 months in September. I think that’s old enough to appreciate the tradition.
2:09 – Tough to see at the other end of the field during 7-on-7 drills, but I notice a Jeremy Maclin drop from Vick in the end zone. Vick later connects with DeSean Jackson for a score.
2:22 – Vick runs with the ones for the second consecutive drill (11-on-11s). This time, he’s picked off by Allen, looking for Brent Celek down the seam. Vick was intercepted once every 35.1 attempts last season.
Foles and Matt Barkley get their shots, but neither fares too well during this session either. Foles holds on to the ball too long on one play for a fake-sack, and Barkley has a screen attempt batted down at the line of scrimmage.
The running backs are doing a lot of rotating once again with the first team. Here, Chris Polk gets a shot.
Vick bounces back with a couple nice plays. On one, he runs a play-fake and then throws a strike to Celek in the middle of the field. And later, he finds Jackson for a bomb down the right sideline with Wiliams trailing.
2:33 – Kelly makes his way over to the defensive during the teach period. He looks bored. Mychal Kendricks comes over to say hello, and Kelly puts his arm around the linebacker.
I know it’s early for predictions, but I think Kendricks can have a really big year. By all accounts, he’s going to have fewer offensive linemen in his face in the new scheme. And he has the tools to be really good in coverage, matching up with tight ends and running backs.
2:37 – Made my way back to the bleachers since practice is nearly over. Now I really am having trouble seeing. But I can tell that Vick just got intercepted by Vinny Curry on a screen attempt. And Barkley had one of his nicer throws to Clay Harbor over the middle.
2:49 – Another practice in the books. We get one more on Thursday, and then no more sessions until training camp in late July.