Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
The Eagles had a lighter practice today with no pads — it lasted just over an hour and a half — and it was another 10-10-10 session. Here’s what we saw.
9:15 — Injury updates: Nolan Carroll, Zach Ertz and Ryan Mathews are practicing, while Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring), Mike Martin (knee), Jordan Matthews (knee), Jason Peters (quad), Wendell Smallwood (quad) and Marcus Smith (concussion) are out. Rodney McLeod was excused again today for a funeral.
9:39 — As 11-on-11 work begins, Mathews is back with the first team. He spoke briefly with reporters after practice, and said he’s now 100 percent. He hurt himself before camp doing running back drills, while adding that he won’t change his running style — although he has admitted before that’s a big reason why he’s injury prone.
Mathews also noted how one year when he tried to put extra work in to prevent injuries, he broke both of his collarbones. He’s happy with the types of runs Doug Pederson has installed in this new offense, and wants to do more one-cut running to get upfield quicker than last season. Mathews moved well today during practice, which Frank Reich gushed about afterward.
“I know it was only a 10-10-10 day — I don’t know if you guys saw it, too — he just looks explosive out there. He just looked explosive, he looked quick, he was seeing things,” Reich said. “And I know it was a toned-down practice with no pads, but we’re still playing fast. He just looks good. He’s an explosive, physical runner. We got a good array of backs you want to mix it in, and Ryan is certainly going to be prominent in that mix. You want to get a guy like that with the track record he has and the way he’s run the ball over the last few years, want to get him as many touches as we can.”
9:41 — Some other lineup notes: With Peters still out, Matt Tobin continues to work with the first team at left tackle. On the other side of the ball, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks and Carroll are the starting corners in nickel. The second-team corners are Jalen Mills, Eric Rowe and Aaron Grymes. I expect Grymes to make the practice squad, while the other five guys are the corners who make the 53-man roster.
At safety, Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins are the starting safeties with both Jenkins and McLeod out. Blake Countess and Chris Maragos are the backups. I imagine the Eagles want to keep Maragos because of his special teams skills, but who’s the odd man out between Reynolds and Watkins? I’d pick one of them to be the fourth safety with Countess on the practice squad.
9:42 — Chase Daniel hands the ball off to Kenjon Barner, who runs a sweep to the left side out of shotgun, before tossing the ball back to Rueben Randle. As Randle rolls right, he finds Daniel in the end zone for a 15-year touchdown pass. Not a bad looking ball from Randle.
On the next play, Daniel throws a nice strike in between bodies to find Nelson Agholor over the middle for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Not long after, Daniel targets Josh Huff in the corner of the end zone, but Daniel throws the ball out of bounds, and as Huff tries to bring it in with a defensive back right on his hip, the receiver crashes into an Eagles employee. She bounces back up, however, and later tells a coworker she’s still fine to go to the Coldplay concert at the Linc tonight.
9:46 — Carson Wentz tucks the ball and runs on a zone read, which makes me think about how useful his dual threat abilities could be in short-yardage and two-point conversion situations. Some talked about how Tim Tebow could potentially provide that dynamic last season for the Eagles, but with Wentz, the defense will actually be scared of him hurting them with his arm.
9:54 — On to punt coverage drills. Wide receivers coach Greg Lewis jumps in with Huff on the first rep to set the tone, before spending the rest of his time yelling “Stay outside!” and “Get there!” Lewis has quickly become one of my favorite coaches to follow during practice because of how engaged he is with the players.
9:59 — Speaking of people to watch during practice, Ron Brooks is definitely up there. As Huff prepares to run down the field to simulate punt coverage, Brooks sneaks up behind the receiver and playfully grabs the back of his shirt so Huff can’t run down field when the ball is kicked. Later, Brooks bobs his head and raps along to Nelly’s “Country Grammar,” although it’s nowhere near as entertaining as Les Bowen rapping along to Kanye’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” last Saturday.
10:04 — 11-on-11 work resumes. Sam Bradford throws a beautiful 40-yard touchdown pass to Chris Givens. Although Givens has had success in previous practices getting over the top of the defense, I wouldn’t read too much into it today because of the nature of the 10-10-10 session. However, Bradford’s perfect ball placement and footwork in the pocket are noteworthy, and they remind me of the improvements he made in those areas at the end of last season.
Bradford has, in my mind, clearly been the best quarterback during training camp, with Daniel No. 2 and Wentz No. 3. I ask T-Mac for his thoughts, and he agrees. No need to worry about Wentz, however, because that’s what you should expect from a rookie quarterback. Just wanted to throw that out there for anyone still expecting to see much of Wentz in the early portion of the season.
10:14 — Speaking of Wentz, he had another one of those “Wow” throws today. This time, it was a beautiful 30-yard wheel route to Cedric O’Neal. You’ll see inconsistent footwork from him, but a few plays later, he does a nice job of climbing the pocket and moving around to elude pressure.
10:29 — Vince Papale, who has been to many of the Eagles’ training camp practices so far, is again holding court and signing autographs. “I’m the real life Mark Wahlberg,” he tells one young fan.
10:34 — Your daily dose of Trey Burton praise: He makes an impressive diving touchdown catch off of a beautifully thrown long ball from Daniel. With how Burton is performing during camp, he’s going to force Pederson to figure out a way to get him involved in this offense, even if there are two tight ends ahead of him on the depth chart.
10:41 — Steven Means continues to get off of the ball quickly. He’s working with the second-team after Smith suffered his concussion, and I think Means has been more impressive from what we’ve seen. I wonder if Means can sneak onto the roster with Smith out of the lineup for now.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow for an 8:05 practice, with Jim Schwartz set to address the media afterward.