Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
Here’s what we saw during today’s practice session as OTAs wrapped up:
10:00 — Before practice begins, Doug Pederson updates us on injuries. Jordan Hicks won’t practice as he’s been getting treatment for a quad spasm, although he’ll be back on the field next week for mandatory minicamp on a limited basis. Rueben Randle, who had gallbladder surgery, will also be back and limited next week. Both Nolan Carroll and JaCorey Shepherd have been cleared for team activities next week and are doing “extremely well.”
10:20 — We’re inside the bubble today because it’s raining, and Carson Wentz is the first quarterback there, followed shortly thereafter by Chase Daniel. No sight of Sam Bradford yet, who is likely hanging with T-Mac on the yacht today.
10:32 — The practice soundtrack starts off with A$AP Ferg’s “New Level,” which is probably referring to the Birds 24/7 practice observations with me subbing in for McManus today. Ryan Mathews looks like the best dancer during warm-ups, but the running backs as a whole probably have the best moves.
10:47 — The Eagles’ punt returners are competing in one of my favorite drills to watch, which is when they catch as many punts as they can in a row while still holding the balls in their hands from previous punts. Kenjon Barner catches five, which is the most I saw today, but when the sixth comes, they all fall out of his hands and the streak ends.
11:00 — Josh Huff is off to a rough start as individual drills end and the offense comes together. He lines up in the wrong spot, and he later drops what should be an easy catch, before committing a false start penalty on the following play.
11:04 — Today’s second-team offensive line from left to right, in case you were wondering how that’s playing out: Matt Tobin, Stefen Wisniewski, Josh Andrews, Barrett Jones, Dennis Kelly.
11:05 — Several Milwaukee Brewers are here watching practice today, including Chase Anderson and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, per the Inquirer’s Zach Berman. Anderson overlapped at Oklahoma with Bradford, but the connection was actually made by Chris Maragos, who is from Wisconsin and has a friend on the Brewers’ staff, says Berman.
11:17 — The Eagles are doing some more punt drills, but the bubble is getting in the way of it being productive. Donnie Jones keeps hitting the roof, so the punt returners have nothing to catch as the ball drops 20 yards in front of them. On a positive note, when punt returners did have the opportunity to catch the ball, they didn’t drop as many as they seemed to in previous practices.
11:24 — Bradford looks good early on, as he hits Brent Celek over the middle, throws a solid deep ball to Huff (who drops it) and then connects with Nelson Agholor on a deep over route. Huff, however, rebounds later on and makes a good catch on a 40-yard throw from Chase Daniel. He ran a wheel route down the right sideline and tapped his toes in bounds before going out.
11:31 — Undrafted free agent cornerback C.J. Smith has a nice sequence. Smith breaks up a 50-yard bomb thrown by Wentz on an impressive deflection, and then two plays later picks off his former college teammate after T.J. Graham cut off his route early. In between those two snaps, Wentz connects with Jordan Matthews on a well-thrown 30-yard pass across the middle.
11:46 — It’s a lot of fun to follow the offensive line today because the Eagles are doing many unbalanced formations — even out of shotgun, which I don’t think I’ve seen before — and sets where the tackles are split out at wide receiver. My favorite play is a concept Chip Kelly had in the playbook, but mostly only used in college: a read-option when the quarterback can throw the ball to the receiver as he’s running before he crosses the line of scrimmage.
Pederson’s group runs a lot of plays with both tackles split out at receiver today, and even some with three offensive linemen split out to the same side. Dennis Kelly told me that’s something they could possibly do during the season, but several beat writers say they heard from other players that it was scout team work in preparation for the Browns.
11:55 — Vinny Curry jumps offsides, which has probably happened a lot more than Jim Schwartz would like during OTAs. One problem for Curry is even when multiple guys jump, he’s the one that grabs your attention because he’s so quick out of his stance.
12:02 — Huff makes an impressive catch on a deep comeback along the right sideline from Bradford. Leodis McKelvin clearly commits pass interference, and he’s very physical with Huff well before the ball gets there, but Huff still nabs it as he goes to the ground.
The day doesn’t end well for Bradford, who throws an interception on the next play, and later throws a strange incompletion in the end zone. It’s unclear who he’s targeting, but it looks like he may have badly overthrown Celek. A few minutes later, Daniel shows why it hurts to be a short NFL quarterback, as he throws a pass that’s easily deflected into the air by a defensive lineman, which falls into the hands of Joe Walker.
That’s it for today, but we’ll be back on Tuesday as mandatory minicamp begins.