Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Michael VickHere’s what we saw today at the NovaCare Complex:

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 KelceMatt 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.

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