Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ first practice with pads.

12:19 – The last time we were in the home team press conference room at the Linc, Chip Kelly was answering questions about his team’s first-round playoff loss to the Saints.

In some ways, not a lot has changed since that day. Nick Foles is still the quarterback. The offense will still center around LeSean McCoy and the ground game. And the defense will return 10 of 11 starters.

In other ways, a lot is new. DeSean Jackson is gone. Darren Sproles is here. Malcolm Jenkins replaces Patrick Chung. And rookies like Marcus Smith II, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff will be expected to contribute.

Kelly will be in that room at least 11 more times – one more practice at the Linc, two preseason games and eight in the regular season.

12:36 – The crowd here at the Linc is about 15,000. Not exactly a gameday number, but plenty of fans on hand who are starving for football.

12:44 – The Eagles have a “Formations” period every practice. The offense lines up against the defense, and it’s all about motioning, shifting, etc. Football coaches at all levels will tell you success depends on execution. But so much is determined before the ball is even snapped. Just think back to Week 17 last year when the Cowboys got Dez Bryant lined up on Chung. Anyone watching live or on TV knew that one was going to be trouble.

12:48 – One thing I miss about Lehigh is the one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive linemen. Those were especially entertaining when Jim Washburn and Howard Mudd would egg the players on.

The two lines are going at it today, but it looks like the focus is on the offensive linemen double-teaming the defensive linemen and other run-game techniques. Not quite as much sizzle.

1:04 – All spring, I’ve wondered who the fifth QB has been at camp. He isn’t in uniform (in some ways, he looks like a ball-boy), yet he can really throw the ball and seems like he knows exactly what he’s doing. Per the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, it’s Pat Shurmur’s son, Kyle, who has committed to play QB at Vanderbilt. Now it all makes sense.

I’d imagine he’ll be a big hit with his teammates once he gets to college.

What’d you do this summer?

Went down the shore. You?

Practiced with Kelly, LeSean McCoy and Nick Foles at the Linc.

1:07 – During 7-on-7s, for the second day in a row, McCoy gets matched up with Connor Barwin on a wheel route, but Foles doesn’t go his way. A nice thing about playing QB in Kelly’s offense is that skill position players don’t have time to come back to the huddle and complain when they don’t get the ball. They just have to get ready for the next play.

Nolan Carroll II with his daily batted down pass. This time, he breaks up a Mark Sanchez ball intended for Arrelious Benn.

“He’s a very well‑rounded talent,” said Billy Davis, when asked about Carroll yesterday. “He’s got size, he’s got length, he’s got speed. He’s a real tenacious competitor. I love his attitude out there, the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he’s got a good knack for the ball. I think he’s a good asset to us. He’s a great addition and we look forward to seeing him in camp and how he fits into our system.”

The most significant depth chart note is that Marcus Smith II is now practicing with the second team behind Barwin. He had been with the threes. That’s good news for the Eagles and means Smith is progressing the way the coaching staff expects.

Meanwhile, our biggest mismatch of camp: Brandon Boykin on Will Murphy. Boykin breaks up a Sanchez pass aimed his way.

1:11 – It’s worth noting that Riley Cooper, Chris Polk and Bennie Logan are all out with injuries today. Jeff Maehl is filling in for Cooper. Damion Square is getting the first-team reps at nose tackle for Logan. Beau Allen is going with the second team.

1:15 – We see one of these every day. McCoy and Darren Sproles together in the backfield. Sproles motions to the left, Foles fakes the handoff to McCoy to the right and then delivers the ball back to Sproles on a bubble screen.

The pads are on, but not a lot of real hitting. Cedric Thornton gives McCoy a nice nudge near the line of scrimmage and knocks him backwards.

Later, Barwin gets in the backfield, McCoy spins, but he’s met by Mychal Kendricks at the line of scrimmage and spikes the ball down. I thought this was a pretty good day for the defense.

Sanchez keeps the ball on a zone read as defensive coordinators around the league shake in their boots (I kid, I kid).

1:20 – Perhaps the play of the day. Earl Wolff breaks on a deep ball near the sideline intended for Arrelious Benn and breaks it up. Excellent range and closing speed. Wolff is the best athlete the Eagles have at safety. If the coaches can get him to play to that athleticism, he’ll be on the field. Smith, Cary Williams and others give Wolff love for his effort.

1:45 – Bradley Fletcher is all over Jeremy Maclin on an incompletion in the middle of the field. Both players tumble to the ground.

Malcolm Jenkins jumps a route and deflects a Foles pass. Again, the defense is showing up.

Matthews time. The rookie catches three straight balls from Sanchez – one on a screen and two in the middle of the field.

Matthew Tucker gets a shot on a wheel route, but drops it. There have been more drops today than the first two days combined (that’s not official).

FIGHT! For the second day in a row, we have fisticuffs. This one is right in front of me: Maclin and Fletcher throwing haymakers before they are separated. T-Mac’s got all the details, and the Cary Williams quotes are definitely worth reading.

Another day in the books. The Eagles are off tomorrow before returning to the NovaCare Complex on Thursday.