Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

What we saw during the Eagles' first day of minicamp.

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

The Eagles’ three-day minicamp kicked off this afternoon. Here’s what we saw:

1:12 — The main storyline heading into today was the arrival of Darren Sproles and Fletcher Cox. Both are on the field warming up. Doug Pederson says he’ll ease them into the action. We’ll see how much work they get.

1:20 — Sproles jumps right into the special team drills, fielding kicks off the jug machine. A little rust here:

But it gets knocked off in a flash:

1:55 — Individual drills start up. Here’s Carson Wentz throwing  a couple darts to get things going (and one from Sam Bradford as well):

2:05 — Quarterbacks and receivers are working on double moves today. Greg Lewis steps in front of Paul Turner to simulate a defensive back, and as Turner makes his move, Lewis gets crossed up and falls to the ground.

“Got ’em” one player calls out as Lewis makes his way to his feet. “Gotta get my cleats,” Lewis responds.

2:23 — Team drills start up and it’s Mike Martin, not Cox, in at tackle with the first team. Jordan Hicks is out there, though, after being limited of late with what Pederson described as quad spasms.

It’s way early, but more times than not the starting corner tandem seems to be Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks. That’s the case again today, with Brooks moving inside in nickel situations while Eric Rowe mans the outside.

2:25 — Bit of a rough patch for Wentz. Puts too much on a throw intended for M.J. McFarland and follows with a wobbler to Marcus Johnson. Chase Daniel, meanwhile, tosses a pretty ball down the right sideline to Xavier Rush, who makes a nice over-the-shoulder catch.

2:28 — There are some remnants from the Chip Kelly era on the practice fields. Remember that large black metal bar contraption that the offensive line used to work with to enforce staying low out of their stance? That’s out here today. So are the smaller red bars that the skill position players are darting through. And the music remains (though it’s more background noise than dominant presence, as it was under Kelly).

But this is no Kelly practice. Where everything was in hyper-drive under the previous regime, here the pace is slower which in turn makes the atmosphere a bit more relaxed. Here, Pederson takes a moment from watching team drills to mingle with the offensive line. He’s jumping up and down for reasons unknown but whatever is being said/done has brought a smile to Jason Peters‘ face and started a conversation among the group. In the next moment, he goes over to Josh Huff and demonstrates the type of technique he wants out of his receiver, who has had his share of struggles in the early going. Just little moments that didn’t exist over the last three years thanks to a conveyor belt type system that coldly zipped player from station to station.

2:32 — Bradford hits Sproles on a swing pass and the back, who will turn 33 on June 20, shows some of that familiar burst as he turns upfield.  Sproles is getting a good amount of work, actually, on his first day back. Cox? Not so much.

2:32 — Wentz throws high for McFarland. Later, he connects with Chris Pantale but as the tight end is going to the ground, Quentin Gause swoops in and rips the ball out of Pantale’s hands before running the other way with it.

2:41 — Wentz rebounds with a beautiful long bomb down the right side that finds its way between Denzel Rice and Chris Maragos and into the arms of Hunter Sharp.

2:52 — “Maragos gets his revenge!” Paunil exclaims, picking off Wentz’s deep-ball wobbler. Some good and bad out of the rookie today. One thing we can say for sure: he is not afraid to throw the ball downfield.

A Wentz out to Nelson Agholor hits off the tips of the receiver’s fingers and rolls out of bounds. Agholor screams, then repeats to himself over and over: “Calm down. Calm down. Calm down.” Amazing the intensity some of these guys bring to a spring practice. Pro athletes are just wired a different way, Josh and I conclude, as we fan ourselves with our notebooks.

3:10 — No Cox in team drills today as we mentioned, but he does get in the action here, snaring a throw-away by Bradford with one hand on the sideline and then holds it proudly over his head, offering a big smile.

Bradford is having a pretty good day overall, and here sails one past Jenkins for a long completion to Huff.

3:17 — Wentz flashes his ability on this play, as he snatches a bad snap off the ground, resets and quickly fires over the middle to Turner, then slips one into McFarland down the seam with Gause tight in coverage.

That’s it for today. We’ll be back at it tomorrow. Practice starts at 1:20.