Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

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

11:41 – NFL head coaches have to find a fine line between being hands-on and overbearing.

Chip Kelly delegates responsibility to his staff, but he is constantly taking players aside during practice and pointing out little things. For example, during the current drill, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are running fades down the sideline (no defense).

Undrafted free agent RB David Fluellen takes a rep, catches the ball, and jogs to the other side – but not before Kelly stops him. The head coach’s issue seems to be with where Fluellen caught the ball. No big deal, but it’s common for Kelly to put his arm around players and correct different things throughout the course of a practice.

11:47 – Centers, quarterbacks and running backs practice together during this period, which is all about run plays – perfecting the snap (shotgun and under center), the handoff, the toss, carrying out fakes, etc.

As I’ve mentioned before, Brad Smith spends this period with the quarterbacks.

It’s also worth noting that Julian Vandervelde is out with a back injury, so Evan Mathis is practicing his snaps.

The song that has everyone bouncing today is 0 to 100 by Drake. Josh Huff is loving it.

12:02 – During the routes versus air period, Mark Sanchez tells Harold Carmichael to look out. Carmichael is standing by the sideline, and the QBs are going to be throwing deep outs.

“I got it,” Carmichael responds. “I know how to get out of the way.”

The crowd loves it.

12:15 – I just spent some time chatting with Field Yates, who does a tremendous job for ESPN. I saw he Tweeted his impressions out of Eagles practice. Worth taking a look:

12:28 – I missed a Malcolm Jenkins pick, but Cary Williams adds another – intercepting Matt Barkley down the right sideline.

Then Earl Wolff jumps in front of James Casey in the end zone and nearly intercepts Nick Foles. The defensive backs came to play today. By the way, this was the most extensive first-team action Wolff has seen going back to the spring. He’s flashed on multiple occasions the past couple days.

Mark Sanchez finds Jordan Matthews over the middle. The pass is a bit high, but Matthews does an excellent job of reaching up and snagging it. Then Sanchez hits Matthews on a dig.

I would say roughly 94 percent of Sanchez’s completions today were to Matthews. Perhaps I’m being conservative.

On a related note, I think it’s time for Matthews to move up to the first team and square off against Brandon Boykin. I know Kelly wants to slow down the hype, but he looks ready.

12:32 – During the teach period, receivers set up in three different lines. Two are blockers and the third is the target on the bubble screen. “Outside shoulder,” says receivers coach Bob Bicknell, instructing the blockers to create a lane down the sideline.

12:36 – Foles keeps the ball on a zone read. According to the Football Outsiders Almanac, he kept the ball on those plays 17 times for 82 yards last year (4.82 YPC).

Sanchez to Matthews (yawn). Sanchez to Matthews again…

Lots of back-shoulder throws today. Bradley Fletcher breaks up a Foles attempt for Jeff Maehl. Foles then rolls to his right off a play-fake and fires a strike to Jeremy Maclin near the sideline.

12:49 – One-on-ones! I’m trying to keep my eye on wide receivers vs. defensive backs and running backs vs. linebackers (blocking). Mychal Kendricks works his way around Darren Sproles and Najee Goode beats Matthew Tucker.

On the other field, Arrelious Benn does a nice job of fighting for the ball against Boykin and comes down with a catch over the middle.

I hear running backs coach Duce Staley fired up back on the first field. It’s LeSean McCoy against Kendricks. McCoy stops him cold and takes him to the ground. Staley loves it – two hand-slaps and then that thing football players do where they lock arms and pretty much give each other high-fives with their biceps.

T-Mac and I might have to add that to the repertoire when Birds 24/7 has an especially good traffic day.

12:56 – On a sidenote, I’m taking a lot of heat for my claim earlier this week that Rita’s is overrated. McManus is on the other side, and today I ran into a former intern who couldn’t believe I had the gall to make such a statement. Nevertheless, I stand by it.

1:04 – Foles has been hand-cuffed a bit the past couple days while Riley Cooper rests because of a foot injury. It’s been Maehl on the other side of Maclin. I’d like to see one of the rookies or Arrelious Benn get a shot. Foles goes deep to Maehl, but he gets no separation against Fletcher and the pass is incomplete.

Sanchez looks for Matthews again on an intermediate out, but Nolan Carroll II jumps the route and is in position for the pick. The defensive players behind the play on the sideline go nuts, assuming the INT. But the ball must have went through Carroll’s hands because Matthews makes the catch, gets up and starts running.

Is there anything this man can’t do?

Foles looks to go back shoulder to Zach Ertz, but Williams breaks it up.

1:16 – Fletcher breaks up a Foles pass for Ertz during a red zone drill. The defensive backs got their hands on a lot of passes today. Williams with yet another breakup on a back-shoulder throw intended for Maclin.

Boykin intercepts Sanchez in the red zone. But Sanchez finds (guess who?) Matthews for a TD later in the drill.

1:29 – The length of the Eagles’ pass-catchers is showing today. Ertz stretches his arms to make a grab from Sanchez in the flat.

Benn makes a nice back shoulder grab from Sanchez (against Boykin).

And we have a Marcus Smith II sighting. The rookie rushes off the right edge and deflects a Foles pass.

Jenkins finishes up practice by jumping Sproles and intercepting Foles on what would have been a pick-six. He gets a jump in the air/butt bump from Boykin and a low-five from Kelly.

The Eagles are back at it tomorrow and Friday. We’ll have it covered.