Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

The Eagles held their second joint practice with the Ravens Thursday. Here’s what we saw:

12:10 –– Let’s dive right into the action. One-on-ones are underway. The Eagles’ defensive backs are going up against the Ravens receivers on the far right field. Walter Thurmond gets things off to a positive note for the hosts with an interception on a ball intended for Michael Campanaro. Kamar Aiken scores a point for the visitors, beating Byron Maxwell on an in-route. Steve Smith Sr. schools Marc Anthony with a pretty move inside that leaves the young DB in the dust. Smith makes the easy catch, and adds an exclamation point by tossing the ball high up in the air behind his back.

Malcolm Jenkins gets the Eagles back on track with quality coverage on Tom Nelson. Josh captured the play.

12:17 — A little lull in the action allows Smith to get some teaching time in with an assistant coach. Upon closer inspection, that coach is Cory Undlin.

“Oh, he was just asking me some questions,” Smith explained. “He was talking about leverages, different techniques that DBs are doing. He asked me my opinion, I asked him his opinion. We’re talking about techniques. You’re always learning. He wanted some insight from me, I wanted some insight from him, so he had to give, I had to take. Give-take.”

12:26 — Otherwise it’s a little chippy between the two teams today, and there are multiple collisions at the point of attack as the Eagles’ kickoff team hones in on the ball carrier. Further up the field a player is down, and it turns out to be Marcus Smith. He eventually gets up and hobbles to the sideline, clearly favoring his right leg. A cart takes him inside after a brief inspection from the trainers. It’s a hamstring strain, and he’ll undergo an MRI tomorrow.

12:30 — 7-on-7s start up. Nelson Agholor is mixing in with the first team, and Sam Bradford finds him for a quick strike on the right side. Chip Kelly was coy when talking about his plans for Bradford Saturday. But the QB definitely expects to play.

“Yeah, I would be [very] disappointed if I didn’t play on Saturday,” Bradford said flatly, adding that he could not be happier with how his knee feels.

12:47 — Team drills. Yep, Andrew Gardner is in there at right guard again. That case looks just about closed. DeMarco Murray runs one off the left side, absorbs a thump from a Ravens linebacker and stays on his feet. Bradford follows that up with a short pass to Josh Huff on the left side. The Eagles defense is working against Baltimore’s offense the next field over. With Smith down and resources thin at outside linebacker, Vinny Curry is getting second-team looks at OLB.

Last year the three-man rotation of Trent Cole, Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham served this team well. This year, the picture is more muddled.

“I know it won’t be as clear and clean as it was last year with just a nice three-man rotations,” says Barwin. “I’m not concerned. I’m worrying about me right now and getting myself ready to play. Whatever we end up doing, we’ll be fine.”

Speaking of linebackers, Diaheem Watkins gets into a a scrap with Ravens offensive lineman De’Ondre Wesley after a Baltimore running play and is promptly kicked out of practice.

12:59 — More special teams, and bodies are flying everywhere. Huff gets pushed down at the end of his kick return. Eagles tight end Andrew Gleichert puts Trent Steelman on the ground. Eric Rowe shoves a Raven who was laying on top of one his teammates too long for Rowe’s liking. Paunil is jacked.

That action gives way to the much calmer scene as the field goal units march out. Cody Parkey has been pretty shaky this summer but today is on point, connecting on all seven of his tries by our our count.

1:07 — Team drills resume and the Eagles offense is running tempo. Matt Barkley is on point today. He and Gleichert hook up for a nice pitch and catch. Barkley then finds Quron Pratt along the right sideline before finishing the drive with a touchdown toss to Justin Tukes . A good sign on the next field over as DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are in there as the starting linebackers. Eric Rowe is in with the ones at nickel.

1:20 — Red-zone work. Kendricks is glued to Justin Forsett but is called for face-guarding in the back of the end zone. Rowe with good coverage on DeAndre Carter to force the incompletion. On offense, Brent Celek drops a pass near the goal line from Bradford, but the QB hits Huff on a slant the next play for the score.

1:30 — E.J. Biggers flashes again, intercepting Matt Schaub along the left sideline.

“Bigs has done a really nice job,” said Chip Kelly. “He’s competing. He’s got versatility because he’s played safety before, he’s played nickel before, he’s played outside corner. But he’s a guy that I think has shown up really on a consistent basis for us and someone that’s got some experience. Another guy that doesn’t get rattled back there…I’ve been really happy with what Bigs has done so far.”

Bigs. Good sign for Bigs.

1:35 — More red zone work. Jaylen Watkins gets twisted up and yields a touchdown to Darren Waller along the left side. Tim Tebow is running the offense on the far end of the other field, and zips one wide intended for Tukes. Up and down day for Tebow.

1:48 — Another little skirmish. Looks like John Moffitt versus Albert McClellan locking horns, but it ends quickly. Barkley caps the Eagles’ offensive day by rolling left and hitting his receiver in stride. One of the final looks on defense features none other than Smith and Rowe, the duo that brought the most color to Wednesday’s session. Rowe sticks with the veteran on a fly route as the ball sails just out of bounds. Looks like Rowe was able to keep his bodily functions in check just fine.

That’s it for today. Joint practices resume tomorrow, though it’s expected to be more of the walkthrough variety.