Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
A spirited practice today at the NovaCare. Here’s what we saw:
8:05 — The pads are on and hitting is on the docket. Is there a buzz in the air? Yes, yes I think there is. Paunil is excited, though that may just be the afterglow from his first Wawa experience. The man has finally found religion, and not a moment too soon.
8:38 — The offense is working on goal line runs, and sends in a jumbo package that features two tight ends (Brent Celek and Zach Ertz) and an extra lineman in Dennis Kelly.
Ryan Mathews remains sidelined and Wendell Smallwood is out with a quad strain. It’s Darren Sproles getting the short-yardage looks here along with Kenjon Barner, who is in store for a heavier-than-normal workload.
9:05 — Jim Schwartz is varying up the d-line groupings. Brandon Graham has been running mostly with the twos but is with the top group today opposite Connor Barwin. Mike Martin is in for Bennie Logan.
Sam Bradford misfires on a pass intended for Jordan Matthews as 11-on-11s begin, then rebounds with a nice strike down the seam for Paul Turner, or “PT” as Doug Pederson called him afterwards.
“Aw, man, I’ll tell ya, Turner — PT — he’s a kid that’s really kinda understood our offense, understood his role,” Pederson opened with when asked about the undrafted rookie receivers.
With Chip Kelly, a nickname was a sure sign that the player was in his good graces. Not sure if it’s as hard and fast a rule with Pederson, but PT can only be encouraged by this development.
9:12 — Nelson Agholor catches a Chase Daniel pass in front of Jalen Mills, who has not stood out quite as much since the pads went on (at least in my view). Rueben Randle then snags one along the right side with Eric Rowe in coverage.
9:15 — a rocky sequence for Carson Wentz. An anticipation throw in the direction of T.J. Graham sails past the receiver. The two clearly weren’t on the same page, and judging by Pederson’s reaction, this one is on the QB. Wentz holds onto the ball too long in the next moment and likely would have been sacked if the play was live. A bad rep, though he does show off his arm strength with a flat-footed flick to Hunter Sharp on the outside that still has plenty of mustard on it.
9:18 — The catch of the day — and of camp to this point — belongs to Cayleb Jones. The 6-2, 209-pound rookie out of Arizona elevates over Denzel Rice, snares Daniel’s long toss with one hand, hits the ground with a thud and somehow manages to hold on for the score as he rolls over. That was pretty.
9:31 — We’ve arrived at the first live period of training camp. Barner is unceremoniously dropped by Ed Reynolds and Deontae Skinner, but quickly gets revenge by burning Skinner on a wheel route for a big gain. Eric Rowe gets into the action with a nice stick on Randle after a modest gain.
Daniel’s pass is tipped near the line and intercepted by Rodney McLeod. The new safety has had come up with a good number of those during camp, it seems. Graham pops Matt Tobin during the return and the two stand chest-to-chest. Graham laughs a kid laugh on the way back to the huddle, clearly amped to have hitting back in his life.
9:37 — Things are picking up near the goal line. Martin sheds a would-be blocker and stuffs Barner in the backfield. Graham then busts through and nails Cedric O’Neal.
“It’s tackle football. It’s a physical game. The other thing about it, too, is it’s that competition; it’s knowing that we’re actually going to put the pads on and go to the ground today,” said Pederson.
“That’s what you love to see, that’s competition and that’s what makes you better. This is the time of the year where you really get to see who is going to be with you, who you can take to the regular season, and we had some good performances out there today.”
Graham is paired with Vinny Curry this time, and the duo spills over the wall to club O’Neal for the loss. It’s first-team defense versus second-team offense, granted, but the ‘D’ is in wrecking-ball mode as the crowd hums.
The offense pierces the armor, though, courtesy of a perfect loft pass from Daniel that Trey Burton rises up for in the corner of the end zone.
9:44 — Wentz steps into the fray but his toss into the flat is broken up by a diving Chris Maragos. Martin then comes barreling in and blows up Byron Marshall.
9:58 — Another nice catch out of Burton off the hand of Daniel, who follows that up with an interception to Najee Goode on a pass intended for Josh Huff.
10:20 — Wentz overthrows Xavier Rush along the left side. He’s nearly picked over the middle moments later but the tipped ball instead finds its way to McFarland. Bradford’s throw to Nelson Agholor is off the mark. He’s on point to Sproles, but the back drops it over the middle.
10:30 — More Burton. He beats Denzel Rice clean off the line before hauling in a touch-pass from Wentz down the right side.
“He’s a guy that we’re going to have to rely on a little bit,” said Pederson of Burton. “I love the fact that we have depth at the tight end position, move him around a little bit and create some matchups. That’s what you want out of guys like that. He’s a versatile role player and he’s done a nice job.”
10:-52 — Another live one — for everyone but the quarterbacks, that is. Bradford fakes the handoff, keeps it himself and makes it a few yards before the play is blown dead.
Stefen Wisniewski continues to fill in for Brandon Brooks at right guard and helps spring Barner with a downfield block. Chris Givens grabs a Bradford offering and shows off some speed as he turns upfield. Wentz tries to end on a positive note but Maragos is there to disrupt a pass intended for Chris Pantale.
That’s it for today. Pads are expected to stay on for tomorrow’s session. Another 8:05 start.