Thursday, December 18, 2014

Eagles practice observations: Foles is sharp; Matthews vs. Boykin; Logan coming along

The Eagles were in pads again for training camp practice No. 9. They have a walk-through tomorrow, practice is closed Thursday, they play the Bears in the preseason opener on Friday and Saturday is an off day, so this will be my last practice report until Sunday. Enjoy:

Eagles practice observations: Foles is sharp; Matthews vs. Boykin; Logan coming along

Eagles defensive lineman Bennie Logan. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images Sport)
Eagles defensive lineman Bennie Logan. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images Sport)

The Eagles were in pads again for training camp practice No. 9. They have a walk-through tomorrow, practice is closed Thursday, they play the Bears in the preseason opener on Friday and Saturday is an off day, so this will be my last practice report until Sunday. Enjoy:

-- Injuries: Riley Cooper (ankle/foot), Jeff Maehl (ankle/foot), Chris Polk (hamstring), Nolan Carroll (hamstring), Jake Knott (hamstring) and Julian Vandervelde (back) didn’t practice. Jeremy Maclin was limited, but said after practice that he could have played. He said he was experiencing soreness in his legs. Maclin said he was being precautious because of the ACL injury he had last year. He said he expects to play in Chicago.

With three receivers out of team drills, the first team offense was once again dipping down the depth chart. Jordan Matthews had probably his most repetitions with the ones this camp. It was about time. He was quiet early on, but caught two passes on successive plays, finding holes in the zone.

Matthews had the habit of raising his hand as if to say, “Hey, Nick Foles, look at me, I’m open” when the ball wasn’t coming his way. This is generally frowned upon by quarterbacks and coaches, unless of course, you’re really open and the quarterback can’t see you. But Matthews wasn’t open a few of times, and after repeated offenses, receivers coach Bob Bicknell barked, “Stop throwing your hands up.”

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-- There was more of Matthews during one on ones drills. After facing a lot of safety Malcolm Jenkins in these situations, he requested cornerback Brandon Boykin today. They split on two matchups although both could have been flagged. Boykin got the better of Matthews on the first play, using his hands to shadow the bigger receive. But on the next one on one, Matthews got separation on an inside curl – thanks in part to a slight push off.

Boykin has been excellent for most of camp, but he brought it today. His coverage was typically tight, but he’s added a karate chop to his repertoire. He has been consistently slapping the ball out of receiver’s hands like he did against B.J. Cunningham at one point. Later, Boykin, who had six interceptions last season, picked off Mark Sanchez when he went to Josh Huff in the end zone. Boykin lost his helmet on the play, but got up and chucked the ball away. Boykin may be best suited for the slot, but the Eagles have to find ways to get him on the field more than last season’s 50 percent.

-- Some readers have asked about rookie corner Jaylen Watkins, so I zeroed in on him for a few plays. He broke up a pass intended for Quron Pratt during 3 on 2s, and did a fine job staying in front of Pratt, who ran a wiggle route to no avail, during one on ones.

Curtis Marsh may finally be on the outside looking in when it comes to making the roster, but he’s had a nice camp, albeit against third team competition. He scored an interception in front of Huff and had a pass breakup during one on ones. Later during team drills, he broke up a pass to Huff and knocked down a jump ball to Cunningham.

-- Nose tackle Bennie Logan, who has been slowly working his way back after an early-camp hamstring, did more today during one on ones. Here are some highlights, looking specifically at the depth on the offensive line and who might or might not make the final roster:

1. Andrew Gardner seems like he’s ahead of the other reserve tackles. There isn’t much depth there with Allen Barbre called up to replace the four-game-suspension-facing Lane Johnson. Gardner had a standoff with Cedric Thornton during a one on one. Kevin Graf seems to be getting better with every practice. He must be coachable. He was dusted by defensive end Joe Kruger early on, but stoned Travis Long and held off Trent Cole. The rest of the offensive line went nuts and the high point of Graf’s day must have been when Jason Peters came over and gave him a low five.

2. At guard, Matt Tobin looks to be the man to beat. He has been solid. Dennis Kelly has had his ups and downs. He suffered a setback last season with a back injury, but doesn’t look as if he’s progressed much since his rookie season. Michael Bamiro was moved to guard in the offseason, but he remains a project.

-- Nick Foles may have had his best practice of camp. He was very sharp, from early individual drills to the team portion. During 7 on 7s, he squeezed a pass to Zach Ertz in the end zone. Ertz did a nice job of pulling in the contested pass. Later, Foles hit Brent Celek over the middle in the end zone with a pump toss. His best pass may have been a back shoulder pitch to Brad Smith for a touchdown.

-- Sanchez was without his go-to-guy Matthews for most of the day, but chucked a beauty to Damaris Johnson in the back of the end zone over the covering Roc Carmichael. The cornerback rebounded and broke up a pass to Ertz on a corner route in the end zone.

-- The efficiency of Chip Kelly’s practices continues to impress. Yesterday, he introduced a drill that had all three offensive units working on one field at the same time, 30 or so yards about, running through plays. Most already know about his quarterbacks-throwing-at-one-time drill to various receivers going through the route tree. Today, he had four sets of receivers on each side of the field in the red zone and the four quarterbacks taking turns throwing to all four on each side as they went through their routes.

-- A few quickies … I haven’t mentioned him much, but inside linebacker Emmanuel Acho will once again make a run for a roster spot. He deflected a Matt Barkley pass to James Casey. …. Casey Spear’s chances of beating out Alex Henery, however slim they are, took a blow. He missed 3 of 5 field goal attempts, hooking 46, 43 and 52-yard attempts wide left. Henery went 5 for 5. … The safety shuffle had Nate Allen and Malcolm Jenkins with the first team defense, and Earl Wolff and Chris Maragos with the second team.

 

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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