Shouldering the load
The Eagles worked on back-shoulder throws today, which defenders say are nearly impossible to stop. Nonetheless, the D came up with four interceptions, after being shut out through the first three days of camp.
Shouldering the load
The Eagles did a lot of work today on those back shoulder throws that have become so prevalent in the NFL, as a way to get the ball to rangy receivers who can box out like basketball big men.
Nick Foles seemed to have a very nice touch on those throws, especially. But the defensive backs hung in and battled, eventually breaking their training camp interception slump with four picks.
"That was great to see," middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. "It was great to see people picking up the tempo, picking up the energy, on the defensive side of the ball. We made some big plays."
"We feel like we've been close the last couple of days. Today, it came together," said Malcolm Jenkins, who picked off both Mark Sanchez and Foles.
"Y'all was talking about us yesterday -- three days without an interception, stuff like that. We relayed the message," said corner Cary Williams.
But Williams acknowledged having the quarterbacks throw behind him was no fun.
"I'll tell you what, it's one of the hardest throws you can defend, as a corner," said Williams, who leaped high to bring down a Matt Barkley jump ball. "Back shoulders are just so difficult because those guys can see the ball ... you get a good quarterback that can throw it at your back, some things you can't do anything about.
"That's what they're coached to do, throw it at the back of our head ... (the receivers) are stopping. They know where they're going. We don't know where they're going, and they can see the ball, as well. It's a part of the game. You just try to be as competitive as possible at the point of attack."
Jenkins said: "It's tough, because it's the opposite of what you're taught, basically. If you're in good position as a DB, normally, the back shoulder's open. That means you're in phase with the receiver; they throw it back and away from you, it's a tough play. It's really all about the finish, being able to kind of get your hips around and disrupt the receiver so that he's not making an uncontested catch. It's hard for them, too -- they've got to get their body around, still track the ball. But if the quarterback throws it right, it's really hard to defend. And once you do start defending it, they'll just throw it over the top ... Today, we got a lot of 'em."
*Eagles coach Chip Kelly said he sees steady improvement from first-round rookie linebacker Marcus Smith. Kelly also said working with the second team, while not ideal for right tackle Lane Johnson, has been beneficial in that Johnson is making blocking calls himself, not relying on Todd Herremans as much as he did as a rookie. Kelly has Allen Barbre working with the first team, since Johnson has to serve a four-game suspension at the start of the regular season for taking a bannded substance in the spring.
*Wish I'd been counting how many times Mark Sanchez connected with Jordan Matthews. He rarely throws to anyone else, among the the second WR unit. But it's hard to blame him. One time yesterday, corner Nolan Carroll jumped a short route and seemed set for a pick-six. Somehow, Matthews ended up with the ball.
*In a punt drill where a defender has to impede a gunner, veteran Brad Smith threw rookie Ed Reynolds around like a rag doll, several times in a row. As they moved to another drill, Smith seemed to be showing Reynolds where to place his hands.
*Ifeyani Momah really seems to have made a lot of progress in route running over the past year.