Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
Here’s what we saw during today’s practice at the Linc.
12:35 – The Eagles put the pads on for the first time, and Jeffrey Lurie is on the sideline. He confirmed exclusively to Birds 24/7 that Chip Kelly says hi to him when they pass each other in the hallway at the NovaCare Complex (feeling the need to make sure everyone knows this is a joke).
12:42 – One on ones between receivers and cornerbacks. Fans don’t get to see all of training camp anymore, so this is a nice gesture by the organization – give those in attendance at the Linc something fun to watch.
Up first is Byron Maxwell against Josh Huff. Maxwell blankets him on an out towards the sideline. Huff dives and takes out an innocent bystander. And I mean takes out. Huff laid out and collided with the guy’s knees pretty violently. Luckily, Gary (he’s wearing a name tag) is able to get up and walk it off. That’s a tough dude right there. McManus would’ve been out for a month.
More from Maxwell. He sets up across from Nelson Agholor in press coverage. Agholor runs a go route down the right sideline. Sam Bradford delivers a good ball, but Maxwell gets his hand in between Agholor’s and breaks it up. He waves to the crowd afterwards, and the fans go nuts. Cory Undlin runs 20 yards to Maxwell to give him some love.
I asked Maxwell to describe the play after practice.
“I quick jammed him at the beginning, and probably like 15, 20 yards down the field I eased up, and I was like, ‘Alright he’s probably gonna run a comeback,’ ” he said. “He kept going, and he got position on me, so I was just trying to fight, stop him from catching the ball. I probably should have just been on top, but that’s how it works out sometimes. Don’t let him catch the ball though. No touchdowns.”
Maxwell never turned back to find the football, yet he got his hands in between Agholor’s and broke it up.
“Those guys’ eyes get big, their hands come up,” he said. “Body language just tells you everything so you just gotta go ahead, ‘OK, the ball is coming.’ ”
I know some think the Eagles overpaid for Maxwell. I like everything about the guy and think he’s going to be a really good player on this defense for years to come.
Later, Jordan Matthews sets up against Malcolm Jenkins in the slot and runs a wheel route to the right sideline. Bradford throws up a 50/50 ball, and Matthews does a tremendous job of using his size to go up and get it.
Then it’s Huff against E.J. Biggers on a go route. Matt Barkley’s pass hangs in the air, but hits Huff in stride as he makes the grab for what would amount to a 40-yard TD.
12:48 – We hadn’t seen Howie Roseman for much of the offseason, but he’s been out at practice each of the last two days. He’s not wearing one of those disguises with the glasses and fake mustache either.
1:01 – During 7-on-7s, undrafted free agent WR John Harris makes JaCorey Shepherd fall down, but he’s unable to track the deep ball from Tim Tebow and drops the pass.
Shepherd bounced back later during the drill and broke up a deep post to Quron Pratt.
1:10 – During 11-on-11s, it’s Bradford with the ones. Mark Sanchez mixed in a little with the starters, but it’s been almost all Bradford for three straight days.
Some other depth chart notes: Matt Tobin is back at right guard. Yesterday, it was Andrew Gardner. It seems like those will be the two guys competing for that spot.
At inside linebacker, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are the starters here, with Kiko Alonso and Najee Goode running with the twos. With Travis Long out, Marcus Smith and Brandon Hepburn are the backups at outside linebacker.
There’s no tackling to the ground, but there’s definitely contact. Jaylen Watkins delivers more than a love tap to RB Raheem Mostert. The crowd approves. Later, Agholor runs a slant, makes the grab and is met by Alonso, who sends him to the ground.
Tim Tebow picks up big yardage on a zone read, but the ball is stripped by a defender in the open field. Maxwell and Walter Thurmond go nuts on the sideline.
1:32 – During 7-on-7s, Kendricks breaks up a pass intended for Brent Celek. The Eagles later show a five-receiver, empty backfield look with Ryan Mathews in the slot.
Shepherd sticks with Matthews on an out route and forces an incompletion. Either the Eagles have something in Shepherd, or he’s just a really good practice player because he seems to do something positive every day.
Zach Ertz time. He makes a catch over the middle and collides with Kendricks, but Ertz delivered more of the punishment. Then it’s a grab with Jordan Hicks on his back. And one more from Sanchez for the trifecta.
1:40 – The Jumbotron at the Linc shows the Eagles’ seventh-round pick, but whoever’s in charge misspells his last name. No respect for Brian “Mihalki”.
Then the screen features Dennis Kelly, but it looks like they focused in on him just as he was getting knocked to the ground on a one-on-one drill. It looked like it might have been against Vinny Curry.
1:45 – Jordan Matthews impresses again during 11-on-11s. He’s been easily the Eagles’ best wide receiver between the spring and summer. At this point, he’s the clear favorite to lead the team in receiving yards.
Goode nearly picks off Barkley on a bootleg.
Tim Tebow runs a boot to the opposite side, holds it forever and then tries an overhand flip that’s picked off by Chris Prosinski. That’s the play to beat in the “ugliest play of camp” category.
1:55 – Huff loses Maxwell on a comeback route and gets a nice ball from Bradford. Some love here for Huff:
Man…I hope #Eagles WR Josh Huff can stay healthy. Can do everything needed in this offense.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) August 4, 2015
Not so much for Bradford:
Ertz makes a great grab down the seam over Kendricks. Tremendous body control, high-pointing the ball and using his size. He got up slowly, but returned to practice.
Sanchez looks for Agholor on a go route, but Shepherd stays with him step for step and forces the incompletion. Shepherd shakes his head afterwards – the equivalent of the Dikembe Mutombo finger wave for cornerbacks – and gets some love from Undlin on the sideline.
2:06 – That’s it for today’s session. The Eagles are off tomorrow and then back at it Thursday.