Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
The Eagles had another OTA session open to the media Tuesday afternoon. Here’s what we saw.
12:19 – Let’s start with a video today. Check out inside linebackers coach Rick Minter on the back of the tackling dummy. Tell me this doesn’t look like fun.
12:29 – Special teams time. Nelson Agholor is back returning kicks. “One guy’s communicating, that’s the returner,” says Duce Staley.
It’s impossible to hear those words and not think of the Cowboys game last year where the kickoff landed between Josh Huff and Brad Smith, resulting in a turnover. The way Chip Kelly explained it, Huff instructed Smith to grab the ball, but something got lost in translation.
It looks like they’re focused on making sure that doesn’t happen again.
12:33 – The players not participating fully today are Sam Bradford, Brandon Bair, Earl Wolff, Marcus Smith II, Huff and DeMeco Ryans.
Quarterbacks and running backs are working on ball-handling. It’s worth noting that Darren Sproles is with the wide receiver group during this period.
12:37 – Quarterbacks coach Ryan Day directs a drill working on the option game. All he has to say is “gun” and a number. The players know what the call is from there.
12:44 – And a look at your new running backs.
DeMarco Murray’s rep was OK. Thought he left some meat on the bone though.
1:06 – Sam Bradford participates in 7-on-7s, something he did not do last week. But it’s worth noting that he only participated in this period. T-Mac called it a baby step. I asked him if there’s anything smaller than that. In other words, Bradford is still being eased in and is not yet practicing fully. This was barely more than he did last week when we were in attendance.
Today is our first up-close look at Agholor. What stands out is that he moves really well. He’s shifty and smooth. It’s easy to see why he made so many plays with the ball in his hands at USC.
1:10 – The inside linebackers continue to rotate. During this teach period, it’s the defense against trash cans. Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans are lined up with the first team. If you only look at one side of the secondary, it looks promising with Malcolm Jenkins and Byron Maxwell.
The other side is where there are question marks. Nolan Carroll continues to line up with the first team. But there’s a change today. It’s Walter Thurmond opposite Jenkins at safety. If I’m naming a favorite to start on June 2, it’s Thurmond.
1:13 – During the team run period, your starting guards are Allen Barbre (LG) and Matt Tobin (RG).
The second team from left to right is Andrew Gardner, Julian Vandervelde, David Molk, Kevin Graf and Dennis Kelly. The third team is Brett Boyko, Josh Andrews, Mike Coccia, Cole Manhart and Malcolm Bunche.
1:20 – The musical soundtrack today is likely labeled 18-year-old Sheil. We’ve got The Chronic 2001, Fat Joe, Ludacris and Biggie blaring from the speakers.
One rookie note: CB JaCorey Shepherd is backing up Brandon Boykin in the slot.
Another rookie note: Agholor calls the Eagles’ veteran RB “Uncle Sproles.”
1:36 – With Huff sidelined, Jordan Matthews is seeing a lot of time on the outside today.
During 7-on-7s, Mark Sanchez overthrows Zach Ertz on a corner route. As we were saying earlier…
1:47 – During a teach period, Fletcher Cox talks to an assistant coach. Bennie Logan goes over and tickles his ear. Cox chucks Gatorade at Logan in retaliation.
1:50 – Back to 7-on-7s. Jaylen Watkins gets matched up with Agholor on the outside. Tim Tebow goes the rookie’s way, but Watkins climbs the ladder and breaks up the pass to force an incompletion down the sideline. The defensive players erupt in celebration. That’s as loud as I’ve heard them so far this spring.
Watkins is seeing action at both corner and safety. I thought he’d get more of a look to earn some playing time, and maybe he will. But it hasn’t happened yet. He’s been practicing mostly with the third team as far as I can tell.
2:00 – More 7-on-7s. Matthews gets lined up with Byron Maxwell on the outside. Sanchez faces a blitz and chucks one down the right sideline. Maxwell sticks with Matthews, but the receiver hauls in a terrific over the shoulder catch.
Eric Rowe gets matched up with Agholor. He’s in press, plays the slant and breaks up the pass. It’s the best rep I’ve seen from Rowe in two practices. Very nice play.
Matthews and Maxwell get matched up again. Maxwell jumps in front of Matthews, and both players go to the ground with control of the ball. Impossible to tell from our angle whether it is a catch or interception. Eventually, they get up, and Matthews has the ball.
2:11 – That’s a wrap. We get two more days of practice next week and then the mandatory minicamp.