Running Diary: Eagles-Pats Practice Observations
FOXBORO, MASS. — Because of the forecast, the Eagles and Patriots pushed practice up to 9 a.m. today. Here’s what we saw.
9:00 – Let’s set the scene. There’s a steady rain falling here, but it’s supposed to get worse later. How bad is it? I’d say if you were driving, you’d have the windshield wipers on the intermediate speed, where they’re constantly moving, but not the fastest speed that’s used for complete downpours.
Chip Kelly walks slowly down a hill on the wet grass that leads to the practice fields. The Patriots are already out there stretching and warming up.
For the Eagles, a number of guys are not practicing: Chris Polk, Nolan Carroll II, Jaylen Watkins, Matthew Tucker and Jake Knott. Riley Cooper is in full pads, but he doesn’t participate fully.
It’s a spirited group on both sides today. I remember the players last year after the Lions game talking about how much they loved playing in the snow. This isn’t quite the same thing, but it doesn’t appear that they mind getting after it in the rain.
Nose tackle Beau Allen is still going with the look where he rolls his jersey up and exposes his mid-section. It’s fair to say he’s sticking with that in any and all elements.
9:08 – Before practice officially begins, the Eagles huddle near the end zone. The chant on three? “Dominate!”
9:20 – One-on-one time. Curtis Marsh flashes during this period every day. He does a fantastic job playing the fade, turns around at the perfect time and breaks up the Tom Brady pass. You can see why the Eagles felt good about Marsh’s man coverage skills and athleticism, but it hasn’t translated to games.
Bradley Fletcher, meanwhile, has had quite a bit of trouble during one-on-ones the past two days.
For the Eagles, Jordan Matthews can’t come down with a jump ball against Logan Ryan. I still need to see him use his size to make contested catches.
Ifeanyi Momah runs a fade, but Nick Foles leads him out of bounds.
9:34 – We bring you our favorite Boston accent moment of the day: “Does that have to be chaaahhhged?” yells one of the local cameramen.
9:36 – The teams make use of both practice fields during 7-on-7s. Major confusion on one play from the Eagles’ defense as Danny Amendola gets wide open down the sideline. Later, the ‘D’ bounces back as Najee Goode drops in coverage and gets a hand on a Brady pass, forcing the incompletion in the end zone.
Foles makes a nice throw in traffic to Jeremy Maclin for a completion. After that, things get ugly for the offense. Foles goes 0-for-3 inside the 10. Mark Sanchez fails to complete a pass down there too. Granted, the conditions are not great, but unimpressive period for the Eagles’ offense.
9:45 – Roc Carmichael and Brandon Browner mix it up in the most yawn-worthy scrap of all-time.
9:52 – During the run/play-action 11-on-11 period, Maclin gets behind the defense and comes down with a 50-yard touchdown on a pretty deep ball from Foles.
But the good news ends there. Maclin comes up hobbling and misses the remainder of practice. We found out later he suffered a left hamstring injury. It’s unknown whether he’ll play Friday night.
Overall, Maclin has played well the last two days, but keep in mind that he’s often lined up against Darrelle Revis, who is constantly going half-speed. Yesterday, for example, Foles held the ball, and Revis basically stopped moving as Maclin got behind him for the touchdown.
9:58 – Bennie Logan is practicing fully and is lined up with the first team at nose tackle. At safety, Nate Allen is getting all the reps with the ones alongside Malcolm Jenkins. At this point, it’d be an upset if Nate Allen didn’t start in the regular season.
DeMeco Ryans drops in coverage and nearly comes up with an interception against Brady. Instead, he settles for a pass breakup.
Great period for Zach Ertz. He runs down the seam against a linebacker for a downfield catch. Then Ertz sets up in the middle of the field, turns towards the line of scrimmage, makes himself big and comes down with a nice catch over his head in traffic. The Eagles aren’t going to be able to afford keeping Ertz off the field once the regular season starts.
Back on defense, Fletcher gives up a catch in front of him near the sideline. I really think Carroll would be pushing him for that job if he weren’t injured.
The third- and fourth-team players don’t get a lot of reps during these joint practices. It’s just a numbers game, and there isn’t enough time for everyone. But during this period, Matt Barkley and the third team work on one field. Barkley delivers a ball down the seam to James Casey, who hauls in a one-handed grab.
10:41 – During another team period, Matthews does a good job reaching behind him on a high ball from Foles for the reception.
Later, Foles looks for Arrelious Benn deep, but he gets no separation. Benn hasn’t made many plays recently. His chances of making the 53-man are not great.
Foles looks for Matthews in a high-traffic area in the middle of the field. The ball pops up in the air, and Patrick Chung, a Birds 24/7 favorite, comes down with the interception.
On defense, the Eagles force three straight Brady incompletions, and the wet ball slips out of his hands on a fourth play. We mentioned this yesterday, but the defense has clearly fared much better than it did a year ago.
Of course, Brady is still going to make his share of plays. Roc Carmichael gets beaten by Danny Amendola for a TD. Amendola spikes the ball, and Brady comes over to congratulate him before delivering a head-butt to Julian Edelman as if this were the Super Bowl.
Practice is cut a bit short today because of the weather. The teams will have a walk-through Thursday before Friday’s preseason game.