Eagles Wake-Up Call: Rookie Progress Report
From time to time, we like to check in on how the Eagles’ draft picks are doing. With the first preseason game a day away, here’s an update.
Marcus Smith, OLB – He’s been running with the second team at the Jack spot behind Connor Barwin. And in all likelihood, that’s where Smith is going to see most of his action this season. He has looked the part from the first day of camp – long, athletic and can move in space. A couple days ago, he showed some feistiness, mixing it up with James Casey after the whistle. Smith, who has never before been to an NFL game, will likely make some normal rookie mental mistakes tomorrow night, but overall, he appears to be on schedule to contribute.
Jordan Matthews, WR – Matthews is working exclusively out of the slot. He’s getting mostly second-team reps, but that’s going to change soon. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur recently praised Matthews for his “spatial awareness.” That term fits. He seems to be a master at finding holes against zone coverages and has flashed dependable hands. Next up? I want to see Matthews do two things: use his speed to get open downfield and use his size to make contested catches.
Josh Huff, WR – Things have been a little less sunny for Huff, who is seeing time both inside and outside. There are concepts he knows from his Oregon days and others that are brand new to him. I love his toughness and the way he competes for the football, but would like to see him finish more consistently. Also anxious to see how he looks as a return man.
Jaylen Watkins, CB – He was invisible in the spring, but has started to flash and break up some passes in the past week. The guess at this point is that Watkins won’t see much playing time as a rookie, although that could obviously change before Week 1.
Taylor Hart, DL – Said Billy Davis: “Taylor is as consistent as the day is long. Every technique you ask him to do, he does it. If you want him to face in the B gap, it’s in the B gap. If you want him striking, he’s striking. He’s about as coachable as anyone we’ve had and consistent in all aspects. He’s got a nice little pass rush and he’s shown some stuff in the one-on-ones in the pass rush elements.” Defensive line is tough to evaluate during practice, but it seems pretty clear that the Eagles like what they’ve seen.
Beau Allen, DL – He falls into the same category. With Bennie Logan nursing a hamstring injury, Allen appears to have surpassed Damion Square and has been taking first-team reps at nose tackle. The 333-pounder has flashed some pass-rush ability during one-on-ones at practice. If you’re looking for an under the radar rookie who could play a lot of snaps, Allen may fit the bill.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Friday’s game provides a big opportunity for Matt Barkley, writes T-Mac.
Chip Kelly revealed his plan for Friday, including how much the starters will play.
Leftover thoughts on Brandon Boykin’s role, expectations for Zach Ertz and the two-gap 3-4.
Huff faces the steepest learning curve of all the rookie wide receivers.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
There was some buzz yesterday about the Eagles going back to the kelly green uniforms. Per Les Bowen of the Daily News, those would only be alternate unis. And even then, it might not happen:
Turns out, the Eagles might like for us to see it, but the league has put in a rule that says you have to wear the same helmet, regardless of what you do with the rest of the uniform. So right now, if the Eagles dressed in kelly green, they’d have to do so with midnight green helmets, which would look silly.
The rule has to do with concussion protection, making sure the fit is right and helmets are thoroughly vetted in practice and so on before they’re worn in games. Of course, it would be possible to do this with any color helmet, but right now, that’s the rule. So it would have to be changed for kelly green to happen, Eagles sources say.
Donovan McNabb will be calling some games for FOX this year. From the AP:
McNabb will rotate with former NFL and Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and longtime linebacker Kirk Morrison as a color commentator alongside play-by-play announcer Dick Stockton.
No open practice to the media, but we’ve got some stuff in the hopper to get you ready for tomorrow night.
Don’t forget to pre-order your Eagles Almanac.
PRE-ORDER SPECIAL: $40
Josh Paunil contributed to this post.