Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations


Here’s what we saw during today’s session.

11:50 – Someone switched the playlist up, and that’s a good thing. As Chip Kelly concludes his press conference, 2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted blares from the speakers. Which reminds me: one of the best radio days of the year is Tupac’s birthday when stations play all of his greatest hits. This is fresh in my mind because it just happened yesterday.

11:58 – The first drill for the offensive linemen. The five starters set up in their respective positions, Jason Kelce yells out the call, and the ball is snapped. The players fire out of their stances, walk 5 yards and then do it again all the way downfield.

12:03 – The defensive backs get started on a separate field. They backpedal with their backs angled towards the sideline and then break on the ball as assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght fires passes their way. Everyone in line has a white jersey on, except for one guy: Donnie Jones. The Eagles’ punter participates in the drill and makes the grab.

Brandon Boykin drops an interception and gets down for push-ups. Perhaps my favorite Boykin stat from a year ago: He intercepted or broke up 23 passes, sixth-most in the NFL. Remarkable, considering he only played 51 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

12:06 – Jones ditches the defensive backs and joins the kickers. He’s rocking a white Eagles bucket hat. I’ve always wanted to be bucket hat guy, but have never given it a shot. Pros and cons? Anyone?

The defensive backs tweak the drill. Now they’re running down the sideline with their backs to midfield before turning around and chasing the INTs.

12:12 – There’s one new player in attendance today: fifth-round pick Ed Reynolds. The Stanford product missed most of spring practices because NCAA rules kept him at Stanford until last Thursday. He’s wearing No. 30. Sorry, Colt Anderson. That’s life in the NFL.

12:17 – Here’s some more video of the offensive linemen:

Double teams and then getting to the linebacker. So much of the Eagles’ success on the ground is based on what you see in simple drills like this one.

12:29 – A veteran move by a reporter: Paul Domowitch of the Daily News drapes a towel on his shoulder to help deal with sweat in the 91-degree heat. This is something I definitely need to add to the repertoire when training camp starts.

12:33 – During the special teams portion of practice, Nolan Carroll II gets some work as a kickoff returner. Off to the side, Nick Foles works on holding for field goals.

12:43 – 7-on-7 time. A lot of rotating the wide receivers today. Josh Huff gets some work in the slot with the second team.

Curtis Marsh breaks up a deep out thrown by Matt Barkley. I predict that Marsh will still be around for mini-camp in 2030.

No breaks with conditioning today. When each set is done, offensive players finish by running down to the end zone at the opposite end of the field.

12:49 – The bleachers are on fire, but some reporters still manage to sit down. One has a seat cushion – another veteran move.

I may need to create a football writer’s survival kit. So far, we’ve got binoculars, seat cushion and towel. Is that enough to get this on Shark Tank? C’mon Lori… this would KILL on QVC!

12:53 – Poor intern Josh is wearing pants and a long-sleeve button down. We never told him to go with shorts on the really hot days. Bad management all around. I blame McManus.

12:58 – The Eagles run through a lot of inside zone and plays that work off of it. Foles assesses the defense and throws the quick screen to Riley Cooper. The Eagles also use play-action and go downfield.

It’s worth noting that Jeffrey Lurie is taking on the heat head-on and watching practice from the sideline.

1:07 – As most of the players take part in special teams, we see that the trash-can contraption is back. If you missed it the first time around, the assistants stack two trash cans on top of each other and then have a third one angled towards the quarterback. As I’ve said before, it almost looks like a cannon.

First, the apparatus is placed in the middle of the field at the 20-yard-line. The quarterbacks are at the 40 and rifle the ball towards the opening.

Then they reverse field. The QBs are at the 15, and the apparatus is set up at the 30 near the numbers as they take turns.

If anyone is throwing a bachelor party soon, please make this contest part of the festivities. Every time I see them use it, I want to participate.

Meanwhile, Murderleg crushes a kickoff out of the end zone. This competition ain’t over yet!

1:13 – 7-on-7 time. The Eagles start off in 10 personnel with one running back and four wide receivers. The look has Huff and Jordan Matthews running with the first team, alongside Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper.

When the twos are up, Carroll breaks up a Mark Sanchez pass intended for Matthews. Unofficially, Carroll has gotten his hands on more passes than any other defensive back this spring (in the sessions open to the media, that is).

With the threes, Arrelious Benn makes a leaping grab in front of Marsh.

1:26 – On the sidelines, Alex Henery chats up Lurie. Always a smart move to exchange pleasantries with the man who’s going to write you checks totaling $645,000 this year.

1:28 – During team drills, Zach Ertz splits out wide and Foles hits him on a comeback. Then James Casey gets the call on a screen.

One position note: It appears for the first time this spring that Dennis Kelly is getting reps at guard. He played some there as a rookie.

Sanchez, meanwhile, hits B.J. Cunningham on a deep out. Matt Barkley gets a turn next and throws behind Damaris Johnson.

1:50 – That’s a wrap. A full two-hour session. We’ll try again tomorrow.