Running Diary: Eagle Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Here’s what we saw during Friday’s practice at the NovaCare Complex.

11:36 – Let’s start with who’s here. DeMarco Murray’s back, but he did not participate fully as he recovers from an illness.

Kiko Alonso (concussion) was out for the second day in a row. Mychal Kendricks was on the field, but not in pads and did not participate. No reason was given by the team. And the same can be said for Zach Ertz.

12:11 – Nelson Agholor drops a slant during the 3-on-2 period. Later, Byron Maxwell gets physical with him and forces an incompletion. Some have asked where Agholor is in relation to where Jordan Matthews was at this point last summer. I’d say Matthews was definitely ahead. I still really like Agholor and think there will be a practice or two where things start to click. But there’s obviously still a learning curve here. Matthews looked big-time pretty much from Day One.

A series of good throws by the quarterbacks. Tim Tebow finds Mike Johnson down the seam. Mark Sanchez puts nice touch on a wheel route to Rasheed Bailey down the sideline. And Sam Bradford tosses a beauty to Jeff Maehl on a fade that beats Earl Wolff.

Today was the best Bradford has looked. He was throwing dimes all day long.

12:28 – One thing I’ve noticed about Maxwell is he seems to be invested at all times. He’s congratulating younger players who run with the second and third teams, cheering good plays by his teammates and is always involved. There are no signs of a guy who is content with his big contract and mailing it in.

During 7-on-7s, Bradford finds Darren Sproles on the Texas route. There’s been a lot of talk about how the Eagles might use Sproles this year, but in reality, he was open a lot last year. He and Sanchez just could never seem to get on the same page.

Bradford overthrows Brent Celek on a corner route. I wonder if the fact that the quarterbacks have to throw that route to two tight ends in Celek and Ertz who are very different from an athletic standpoint messes up their timing.

Another wheel route – this one to Matthews deep down the sideline. Bradford has been excellent on those deep balls outside the numbers. His touch especially stood out today.

Sidenote: I’m not one to judge the fashion choices of fans, and I understand some people are coming straight from work. But the jersey over the button-down look is just a horrible one in any sport. Let’s all agree to retire that immediately.

12:37 – The Eagles continue to rotate different guys in with the ones. Today it’s Taylor Hart during an 11-on-11 run/play-action drill. I have no idea what to make of Hart. We’ll see how he looks in the preseason.

Some have wondered about Matthews’ role. Will he stay in the slot? Go outside? A series here may offer a glimpse. On the first play, he’s outside. Then Matthews sets up in the backfield with Sproles. And on the third snap, he’s back in the slot.

Bottom line: Matthews is their best receiver. He’s going to lead the team in all pass-catching statistical categories and play more snaps than any other Eagles receiver.

12:59 – During 7-on-7s in the red zone, Riley Cooper beats Eric Rowe on a fade. Just another beautiful ball from Bradford.

He then hits Ryan Mathews on a wheel route against Najee Goode. Goode practiced alongside DeMeco Ryans with the first team since Alonso and Kendricks were out.

Later during the drill, Bradford zips one to Trey Burton in between defenders on a crossing route.

1:12 – Mathews has been seeing more time, and the coaches have been raving about him. During a team period, he found a hole and scored on what looked like it might have been an outside zone run.

Wolff lays the boom on Quron Pratt in the flat. I didn’t see it, but I heard it and witnessed the crowd reaction. You should have seen the look on Intern Tucker’s face. It was like he had just seen a ghost.

Sanchez finds Cooper on a deep post. He beat Rowe again and did a nice job of going up and getting the football.

Agholor flashes here. One thing that stands out is he’s a hands catcher. Chip Kelly talked about that yesterday.

“I think he could catch the ball away from his body,” Kelly said. “It always seems like, even though he’s six‑feet [tall], maybe six feet and half an inch, he plays bigger and taller and longer. He made a great catch on the sideline because he can extend. He can put his body in a lot of different situations.”

On one play, Agholor extends and grabs an out for a touchdown. Then he reaches and plucks the ball on an in-breaking route.

Bradford is on fire with the fade. Here, he hits Seyi Ajirotutu down the left sideline.

1:30 – Right guard update for the day: It is Andrew Gardner with the first team.

During the two-minute drill (it was actually 1:03), the offense gets the best of the defense. Bradford connects with a wide open Brent Celek down the right sideline on what had to be a busted coverage Bradford delivers a fist-pump after the play. Grat day for him.

Geoff Mosher of CSN Philly clarifies the details of the drill.

“So if Sanchez throws a pick here, Matt Barkley comes in?” he asks.

In other words, not every QB is given the same amount of reps. You just try to get in the end zone in 1:03.

“Don’t know why I’d insinuate that Sanchez would throw a pick,” Mosher continues.

And then boom, just like that, Jaylen Watkins picks Sanchez off, and he’s done after one rep. Someone get Mosher to the Borgata ASAP.

1:37 – That’s a wrap. The Eagles are back on the field Saturday for another practice.