Eagles Wake-Up Call: Agholor Flips Into Different Mode
The smile that he flashed so regularly during his first few weeks as an Eagle hasn’t surfaced much of late — at least during business hours. Nelson Agholor‘s demeanor has changed. He’s more serious now, and as he walks off the field and stops to talk with reporters in front of the NovaCare entrance, you get the feeling that he is not altogether happy with himself.
“I wish I was making less mental errors,” he said, adding that his focus needs to improve. There have been a few miscues along the way — like when he dropped a perfectly-placed pass from Tim Tebow Wednesday — but he’s also had his share of standout moments and highlight-reel catches. Overall, the rookie has shown well during training camp to date.
Currently, it’s the imperfections that he appears focused on.
“He should,” said Jordan Matthews, when a reporter noted that the rookie seems to really take his mistakes to heart. “That’s about caring, man. I think some people might take that as, ‘Oh, it’s in your head,’ but no, Nelson is always going to make the next play. It’s a good thing that he’s hard on himself because he knows how hard he works at his craft, so he knows that every day he wants to come out here and put a good product on the field.
“You see a lot of guys out here that might just punch the clock, ‘Oh, it’s OK, I’ll be here tomorrow.’ But these lockers aren’t promised. And the thing is, it’s beauty when you see a guy who is a first-round pick still have that chip on his shoulder and still have that understanding that nothing is promised, none of this stuff is guaranteed. He comes here and works his butt off every single day like he is an undrafted guy, and I really appreciate that.”
Brandon Graham says there is a group of five players that get to the facilities first (around 6 am): himself, Matthews, Tebow, Brandon Hepburn and Agholor.
“Nelson, I’m telling you, might be Rookie of the Year,” said Graham. “I’m a Nelson fan, man. That’s all I’m gonna tell you. That boy come to work every day.”
“They talk about that class and the great receivers in that class, but when you put on film he is easily at the top,” added Matthews. “You’ve got some other guys like [Amari] Cooper and those guys out there but man, Nelson, I think he is the most explosive and athletic out of any of them.”
First things first: Agholor is still getting acclimated to Chip Kelly‘s system and the NFL in general. The first-round pick out of USC has been primarily with the twos, though he’s seen more first-team reps of late. Moving up and down the depth chart, he’s been running with one personnel group — and one QB — after the next while trying to get comfortable in the offense.
“I embrace uncomfortable situations. That’s the only time you grow, when you put yourself through tough times,” he said. “The fact that the coaches are putting me in there with different personnel, I’m seeing different coverages, I’m trying to catch different kinds of balls and I’m playing with I guess you could say different fatigue levels. Sometimes I’m really tired, I’m in there and I’m trying to see how much I can push my body, sometimes I’m really fresh. So at the end of the day it’s all about getting comfortable.”
His first taste of NFL live action comes Sunday against the Colts. Matthews was asked what Agholor might have the most difficult time adjusting to.
“I would say speed, man, but people have to adjust to his speed,” he said. “If he just stays in that mind-frame that it’s just football, I can’t see him not doing great.”
WHAT THEY MISSED
“It’s a calculated risk. It’s probably riskier, to me, than Sam Bradford.” Paunil’s camp Q&A with Peter King.
Practice observations: Malcolm Jenkins, DeMarco Murray and the chair; Eric Rowe impresses.
“Adrian comes over to me and says, ‘Hey Billy D, we’re in for a long one. This boy’s not rattling.'” Billy Davis shares his thoughts on Bradford.
Jason Kelce explains to Josh how he analyzes defenses pre-snap.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
It’s a prove-it year for Billy Davis, writes Mike Sielski.
Bill Davis gives a great news conference. He’s expansive and informative and never condescending to a questioner. He maintains excellent eye contact, moves his hands in gestures that are both welcoming and non-distracting, and often tells the truth. When he speaks about the Eagles’ defense, even if the defense is not performing well, he is reassuring, because once Davis is finished speaking, one comes away from the conference thinking, Well, at least Bill knows what he’s doing.
The trouble with Davis’s news conferences – those he has given over his first two years as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, anyway – is that he’s had to be reassuring too frequently. In 2013, among the NFL’s 32 teams, the Eagles ranked 29th in total defense, last in passing yards allowed, 30th in first downs allowed, last in number of plays allowed per drive, and 26th in yards allowed per drive. Last season, they ranked 28th in total defense, next-to-last in passing yards allowed, 26th in first downs allowed, 28th in touchdown passes allowed, and 25th in the percentage of drives against them that resulted in a score.
Jeff McLane writes about how Darren Sproles is being used in his practice notes.
Chip Kelly means what he says (sometimes). He said back in March that he wanted to get Darren Sproles more involved in the offense. Even though Sproles dropped a spot on the running-back depth chart with the addition of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews, Kelly intimated that there were ways to get him on the field in the passing game. We’ve seen him in the slot at various points in camp, and Sproles lined up wide a bunch of times on Wednesday.
Chip Kelly speaks at 11:30. Practice at 11:45.