Eagles Notes: Injury Updates, Coverage Trends
Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso both hit the practice field at the NovaCare Complex for the second consecutive day Thursday.
Chip Kelly said Kendricks had a good practice Wednesday, but his status is still uncertain for Sunday night’s game against Carolina.
“[Kendricks] did good,” Kelly said. “He’ll be back out there again today, and then we’ll see where he is. The thing with Mychal is the consecutive days, so what happens today, and then we still have Friday and Saturday.”
Meanwhile, DeMeco Ryans (hamstring) and Nelson Agholor (leg) were both held out of practice on Thursday. Riley Cooper also appeared to be sitting out.
“[Agholor is] doing things with [sports science coordinator] Shaun [Huls], and he’s coming along,” Kelly said. “I just don’t know, really, what his status will be for this weekend. It’s kind of up in the air. Just progressing and working hard at it.”
With Agholor limited by injury through the Eagles’ first six games, Cooper has stepped up in a big way this season, rebounding from his underwhelming 2014 campaign to become the Birds’ go-to deep threat.
He has caught three passes of at least 30 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown pass against Washington, and he’s averaging 18.6 yards per reception.
Kelly said Cooper’s success, and the Eagles’ ability to stretch the field with deep throws, has just been a result of the way opposing defenses are playing the offense.
“We’re seeing a lot more man now, and we saw a lot more zone last year,” Kelly said. “It was 60-40 zone [last year], and now I think it’s 51-49 man. It’s just how people are defending us, compared to in the past. It’s skewed back towards maybe where it was our first year.
“If you’re going to play man coverage, we’re going to try to get some match-ups we can get that are favorable to us. The one post we hit [Cooper] on, I think in the second half, it was man coverage, press man. He beat his guy off the line of scrimmage, the safety was leaning the other way, and Sam came back to him on the post route.”
With Agholor potentially out for Sunday, the Eagles’ wide receivers will need a solid game against a sturdy Carolina defense.
One place Sam Bradford will look, besides Cooper and the deep ball, is Jordan Matthews, who torched the Panthers when the two teams met last season.
Matthews caught seven passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Eagles’ 45-21 romp over a Panthers team hampered by injuries and inconsistency.
With Matthews struggling to jumpstart his second season, the young wideout could look to his breakout performance from last season as a touchstone.
Kelly said the passing game success stemmed from the way Carolina defended then-quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Eagles’ offense.
“They played a lot more man coverage in that game,” Kelly said. “He got matched up a little, a couple of times. They played two different nickels, a big nickel and a little nickel, and he got matched up on two different guys. It was just a little bit more of man free.”
Man coverage has been springing Cooper down field all season. If Carolina sticks to its guns from last season, Matthews may be in line for some of the same.