Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
An eventful practice at NovaCare today. Here’s what we saw:
8:30 — Word is out that the team will be going live today. That, along with the 20 oz. Wawa coffee I just threw down (white lid, of course) serves as a needed jolt on this early Friday morning.
9:00 —A welcome sight for the Eagles with Ryan Mathews and Brandon Brooks both back on the field. Jason Peters and Malcolm Jenkins remain sidelined, though. Matt Tobin is once again playing left tackle in Peters’ absence and is cleanly beaten by Connor Barwin off the edge for the “sack.”
Looks like Brooks will only be taking part in individual drills on his first day back. That means more first-team reps for Stefen Wisniewski at right guard. The starting unit today, then, goes (from left to right): Tobin, Allen Barbre, Jason Kelce, Wisniewski, Lane Johnson.
9:05 — Mathews is participating in 11-on-11s and is running with the second team. He takes a handoff from Chase Daniel, finds some room on the left side and bursts through the hole.
Trey Burton makes a sliding catch on a ball over the middle from Daniel. Afterwards, Doug Pederson identified Burton, wide receiver Paul Turner (PT) and defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao as three of the young standouts at camp. “There are some young guys that are giving themselves an opportunity to potentially make the roster,” he said.
9:08 — Pederson notices that Turner is lined up incorrectly. He stops the play and moves Turner tighter to the line of scrimmage. Carson Wentz ends up looking his way and hits Turner on an out for the completion. Another example of the different coaching styles. Chances are, Chip Kelly would have let the play ride and made the correction in the classroom later to keep the pace of practice up.
9:19 — Well, that was a brief cameo for Mathews. He’s already heading indoors. Pederson indicated afterwards that the plan was for him to be limited anyway.
9:23 — Tempers are flaring more as camp wears on and the hitting intensifies. Bennie Logan and Barrett Jones get into a scuffle after the play. Dennis Kelly is feeling it and is shuffling his feet like a boxer as he watches close by. The 330-pound Beau Allen moves in like a bouncer to restore order and send Kelly packing.
9:28 — Live drills. Today the offense is backed up near its own goal line and has to fight its way out. Should make for some good theatre.
9:35 — It’s the first-team defense against the second-team offense. Daniel drops back into the end zone, surveys and throws one towards the left sideline for Nelson Agholor, but Leodis McKelvin is all over it and returns the interception for the touchdown. Pederson is fired up and goes for the high-five, but McKelvin leaves him hanging.
That three-second window after being snubbed on a fly-by is a lonely, awkward place, isn’t it? Just gotta walk it off, Doug. Just gotta walk it off.
9:40 — Vinny Curry comes barreling in and finds himself one-on-one against Kenjon Barner, who gets knocked back as Curry lands near Sam Bradford‘s legs. Nigel Bradham skates past Tobin (who was engaged with a DB) and comes clean for a sack.
It’s Carson Wentz‘s turn. He fires a strike to Cayleb Jones that bounces off the receiver’s hands, then hits M.J. McFarland for a first down.
9:42 — Cory Undlin gets really into these matchups and his voice is a constant throughout practice. Here, he looks on with great interest as McKelvin lines up right over top Nelson Agholor. McKelvin flinches, sending Agholor into a series of press-beating hand moves against air that looks like some deranged form of karate. The whistle blows for a false start. Undlin is wearing a big smile as Agholor gets lined back up. “Chill out, Nellie,” he says, playfully riding the stone-faced receiver.
9:47 — A concussion for Marcus Smith means a bump up the depth chart for Steven Means, who has flashed a couple times during camp. Means fires off the right side here and nearly drops Byron Marshall for a safety, but the back is able to squirm past the line of scrimmage.
A diving catch from Zach Ertz gets the approval of the crowd. The defense gets the final word, though, as rookie Alex McCalister comes free off the edge to register a “safety” on Wentz.
9:55 — Caleb Sturgis and Cody Parkey take turns kicking field goals. Sturgis has been more accurate overall, but in this instance has one bang off the upright and out. He’s able to connect from 50-plus yards out a moment later, however, while Parkey’s try comes up short and right.
10:18 — Jalen Mills hasn’t stood out as much since the pads have come on, but looks good here as he breaks up a pass intended for Chris Givens down the left side that’s intercepted by Blake Countess. Jaylen Watkins nearly comes up with a pick a beat later, which would have been his second of the day. With both Jenkins (hamstring) and Rodney McLeod (personal reasons) out, Watkins has been getting some first-team looks at safety along with Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos and is acquitting himself pretty well.
10:28 — Marshall with a slippery run for a gain of about seven while working with the first team offense. Mills is tight on Givens again as Sam Bradford‘s wobbler falls incomplete. The ever-animated Mills still wants a flag for offensive PI.
Ertz hauls in a pass along the right side and is cut down by Countess. He gets up shaking his head (which lands him in concussion protocol) and has a word for the rookie. Undaunted, Countess comes up in run support on the next play and takes down Barner.
10:30 — A scary moment as Matthews is hit low by Mills and stays down on the turf. Players gather around the receiver on one knee and a quiet goes over the crowd. Matthews pops up before long, though, to the fans’ delight. The team expects him to be fine but his day is done.
10:35 — Denzel Rice breaks up a Wentz pass intended for Turner. The rookie QB come under immediate pressure in the next sequence thanks to McCalister and Bryan Braman, who collapse either side of the pocket forcing Wentz to scramble forward. The play is blown dead, evoking some Ric Flair-like “Wooos!” from Jim Schwartz‘s group.
That’s it for today. Another session at the NovaCare at 9:05 tomorrow.