Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

A little over 43,000 fans came out to take in Eagles practice at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday. Here’s what we saw.

12:01 — It’s Military Appreciation Day here at the Linc. Service men and women are lined up in the bowels of the stadium from the Eagles locker room to the tunnel. Chip Kelly stops to greet each of them while making his way out to the field. It’s a perfect scene as the national anthem cascades down on the men and women of uniform and the revved up crowd…until the plane shows up.

Greg Hardy helped fund this stunt. The yellow bird first appears by the north end zone, carrying a banner that reads, “We Still Dem Boyz. #Sackscomin.” The crowd breaks into “Dallas Sucks!” chants and fills the bowl with hearty boos. The football juices are officially flowing.

12:18 — Watching kick return drills, it sure seems like Dave Fipp has a lot of quality options. Josh Huff; Nelson Agholor; Ryan Matthews, et al. Huff breaks one to the right, finds a seam and darts into daylight to the delight of the fans. Later, Riley Cooper sends another return man, Raheem Mostert, to the turf, drawing “Ooohs” from the stands.

12:22 — Connor Barwin is playing to the crowd. He’s on the Jumbotron as “Eye Of the Tiger” blares, and he’s pumping his fist to the beat of the intro. Da. Da Da Da. Da Da Da Daaaaaa. Amazing how much that movie still resonates in this city. I live by the Art Museum and every time I drive by, there is a line of folks waiting to take their picture with the Rocky statue next to a sea of health nuts working out on and around the steps. Has there ever been a movie so woven into the fabric of a city? Thanks. I’ll hang up and listen.

12:40 — One-on-one time. Josh Huff tries to shake Byron Maxwell with a post-corner move but Maxwell has him blanketed and forces the incompletion. The former Seahawk definitely has some swagger to him. He hams it up afterwards, pointing to the fans in the corner of the end zone, who respond with a roar. It’s a good sequence for the defensive backs. Nolan Carroll with some good coverage on Miles Austin. Jaylen Watkins follows with a pass breakup of a Sam Bradford ball intended for Nelson Agholor. Cory Undlin is loving it.

It’s Huff vs. Maxwell once again. This time, the receiver finds some separation on an in-route and makes the catch, but Maxwell strips the ball loose after a few strides.

12:54 — It’s the 3-on-2 period, where two receivers go up against a pair of defensive backs. Trey Burton makes a nice sliding grab along the left sideline. That’s followed by one of the nicest hook-ups of the day as Bradford lofts a pretty deal ball to Huff, who makes an over-the-shoulder catch with Malcolm Jenkins in coverage.

12:59 — Back to 7-on-7s. Agholor gets a look with the first team. Cooper drops a pass from former Florida teammate Tim Tebow, then comes limping back to the sidelines. Looked like he was working through a little something today. An off-target pass from Matt Barkley is tipped and intercepted by Walter Thurmond.

1:10 — Team drills. DeMarco Murray (illness) is back participating in full today. Julian Vandervelde is first-team right guard for the second consecutive day. Thurmond is alongside Jenkins at safety and Carroll is opposite Maxwell at corner. Speaking of Maxwell, he breaks up another deep Bradford pass intended for Huff. From what I saw, he was the star of the day. He’s been great all camp.

1:23 — A break in the action gives us a chance to take in the surroundings. As Tucker and I scan the seats, we notice there is no one dominant jersey at the moment. Zach Ertz, Jordan Matthews, Murray, Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce are all represented. Other than that, mostly throwbacks. Meanwhile, Tucker happens to find one of his college buddies in the stands, and shows good vertical as he leaps for the high-five.

 1:33 — JaCorey Shepherd is down. Darren Sproles collided with him near the left sideline after making the catch, and then heard Shepherd holler. No official word on the injury yet but it looked like he was favoring his right knee as he left on a cart.

1:40 — Practice resumes, though with a little air taken out of the building. Thurmond comes up with his second pick of the day and again it was off a deflection, this time on a Bradford pass.

1:45 — Bradford rebounds with a laser into the back of the end zone. Huff makes a twisting, acrobatic catch and manages to keep himself inbounds.

2:00 — Watkins is working as the first-team nickel and has good coverage on Matthews, but No. 81 is able to come up with a diving catch. Bradford then hits Cooper on a slant for the touchdown.

2:09 — Practice ends. The players were wearing special camouflage jerseys today. They take them off as the session wraps and hand them to members of the military lined up across from them on the field. Kelly had this tradition at Oregon when he coached there, and has now brought it with him to Philly. A nice ending to an eventful day. Practice resumes Tuesday at NovaCare.