Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations


Carson Wentz and Sam Bradford. (Jeff Fusco)

Here’s what we saw as the Eagles took the field for the start of OTAs Tuesday:

10:50  — A light rain is coming down to welcome the Doug Pederson era. Practice starts with a focus on special teams. Nelson Agholor is back fielding punts and has one bounce off him and hit the dirt. He belts out an expletive then puts himself back in front of the line to make amends, and fields the next one cleanly.

10:53 — Some notable players missing. Fletcher Cox remains away from the team while the two sides work on a contract extension. Darren Sproles is a no-show, as has been the case all spring. A report says the Eagles received trade offers for the back during the draft, and is staying away “until it’s sorted out.”

11:00 — Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz are both here, sharing the field for the first time. They take turns along with Chase Daniel working on audibles at the line(!).

Pederson is rolling with just three QBs at the moment (they released McLeod Bethel-Thompson today), which is approximately six less than Chip Kelly would have had in camp at this point. And it makes sense, as they’re looking to get Wentz as many reps as possible this time of year.

11:04 — Some sloppy play to start individual drills. Wentz and  Cedric O’Neal are not on the same page, and the ball goes whizzing past the back and into the dirt. Josh Huff has a pass bounce off his hands.

Wentz and Bradford drop back to throw simultaneously. Wentz connects with Cayleb Jones on a corner route down the left sideline, while Bradford’s throw is low and off the mark.

A tough start for the receivers, with drops aplenty.

11:16 — The first-team offense assembles for the first time. The offensive line looks like this (from left to right): Jason Peters, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson. One receiver look has Jordan Matthews and Agholor on the outside and Huff in the slot.

In case you’re wondering, the second-string o-line was (again from left to right) Matt Tobin, Malcolm Bunche, Stefen Wisniewski, Barrett Jones and Dennis Kelly.

11:30 — A little quarterback bonding! Another special teams session has the QBs working on a separate field with Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. Bradford and Wentz burn the time by having a catch together. No confirmation that Bradford was putting a little extra mustard on his throws.

On the next field over, the defensive line is working on pass-rushing drills. Guessing we won’t see quite as much sled work like in the days of Jerry Azzinaro. Here, the boys are working on their get-off, sprinting forward and through the orange pads the second the ball moves.

11:36 — With no Cox in attendance, Taylor Hart is getting first-team work alongside Bennie Logan. Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin are getting the nod at defensive end, with Brandon Graham and Marcus Smith running with the second team.

Some other defensive notes: Eric Rowe and Leodis McKelvin start on the outside, with Ron Brooks initially in the slot and rotating in. Nolan Carroll went through individual drills but does not participate in team. Jordan Hicks is sitting out team drills as well with tightness in his legs, according to Pederson.

11:40 — One thing that sticks out is that these practices (no pads) are more physical than we saw under Kelly. Even though the players aren’t technically hitting, there is some thudding going on and some guys are ending up on the ground (the slick track has something to do with that as well). A Wentz screen intended for Wendell Smallwood gets blown up by Jim Schwartz‘s defense, which is flying around today.

11:46 — 7-on-7s. Bradford slips a pretty pass between a pair of linebackers and into the mitts of Rueben Randle over the middle. New Eagles safety Rodney McLeod gets the better of him moments later, though, using good anticipation to jump a Bradford throw and return it for a “pick-six.”

Following a Matthews catch from Bradford along the left sideline, a coach yells to the group: “Hustle back!” It’s receivers coach Greg Lewis, who was maybe the most vocal of the coaches Tuesday. Surprised me a bit.

11:51 — The large speakers that were featured during Kelly’s practices are still present and there is some music being played on and off, but it’s quieter and not as much a part of the practice design, if that makes sense. And the pace is slower. Definitely slower.

11:55 — Wentz throws his first pick in Eagles green. Denzel Rice makes a nice play on a pass intended for Jonathan Krause and comes away with the interception. One thing you notice about Wentz is he’s pretty animated. He slaps his hands together after just about every play, good or bad. Gave Jason Peters a butt slap as they moved from one drill to the next. Just little stuff that stands out, especially for a rookie in his first professional practice.

12:02 — Leodis McKelvin is all over Huff down the right sideline. He leaps to break up the Bradford pass and then talks trash on his way back. Later, he takes Huff down to the ground on a pass over the middle.

12:09 — More good stuff out of the DBs. Rowe sticks with Randle on a fly pattern and forces the incompletion. Cory Undlin gives a fist pump and slaps Rowe’s hand as he makes his way back to the huddle.

12:19 — Bradford finishes practice on a strong note. Lofts a perfect deep ball to Matthews along the right side, and the receiver hauls it in for a big gain.

That’s a wrap for today. We’ll have another diary for you next Tuesday.