The Eagles went at it again, wearing pads for the fourth straight practice and before tomorrow’s off day. They practiced on the far field today so it was a little difficult to observe with my dime store binoculars. But here’s what I was able to watch:
-- Najee Goode continued to get the occasional set of first team snaps at inside linebacker in place of DeMeco Ryans. He said he’s been subbing for Ryans since the spring. I wouldn’t make too much of it, but it warrants monitoring considering how many snaps Ryans played last season. Bill Davis has said he wants to give the defensive leader more breaks. Chip Kelly has also said that he planned to give some of the veteran players – Ryans is 30 – camp breathers every now and then. But Ryans had become a liability on passing downs late last season. The Eagles, meanwhile, think Goode will be better with a full offseason with the team.
-- Safety Earl Wolff didn’t participate in team drills for the second straight day. He was suited up, but told Zach after practice that he didn’t feel ready to go following warm ups. Before practice, Kelly said Wolff was sore and that he would go. With Wolff out, Nate Allen was back with the first team.
-- Some readers have asked about second-year defensive end Joe Kruger this camp. He spent all of last season on Injured Reserve, which allowed him to pack on 20 lbs and get his shoulder healthy. I think he’s going to struggle to make the 53-man roster. I’ve watched three days of linemen one on ones and Kruger has had trouble getting push or past o-linemen. There are times when it’s clear the linemen are working on zone blocking techniques and maybe the effort isn’t 100 percent. The starters, whenever they’re matched up against each other, never seem to go all out. But the young guys do, as they should.
-- Some other linemen observations: Alejandro Villanueva is a great story, but the transition to defensive end seems like it’s been a difficult one. The 6-foot-9 project looks too top heavy. He has a hard time holding his ground when a guard or tackle lines him up straight. Rookie nose tackle Beau Allen and defensive end Taylor Hart, on the other hand, have a strong base. Both look like legit NFL players, although I need to see more, particularly against other teams. I would be surprised if the late-round draft picks didn’t make the squad.
-- You can see why the Eagles like Matt Tobin. They tried to get him to add about 10-15 pounds last offseason, but I’m not sure it stuck. He’s still listed at 290. He’s quick off the ball and seems to use his speed as leverage, much like Evan Mathis. He rocked Villanueva during one matchup, earning a smile and tap on the cap from offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
-- Marcus Smith struggled during his set of one on ones. Don’t fret. It’s all part of the learning process for the top draft pick. Rushing out of four-point stance, Smith was held up by undrafted rookie Donald Hawkins and tried to use his hands to get past Allen Barbre, but got nowhere.
-- With Riley Cooper (foot or ankle depending upon who you ask) and Jeff Maehl (foot or ankle, I guess, since he was wearing a walking boot on his right leg like Cooper) out, Ifeanyi Momah got a number of first team reps. Jeremy Maclin started practice, but was watching toward the end, so Arrelious Benn jumped in for him. Running back Chris Polk (hamstring) and center Julian Vandervelde (back) were out again. Linebacker Jake Knott joined the injury squad with what he said was a hamstring.
-- Some quickies … Cornerback Nate Carroll, who has been a ball hawk all camp, finally had his first interception. He picked off G.J. Kinne during 7 on 7s. … Carroll may be doing most of his damage against the second team, but it would be nice to see him get a chance to go with the ones. Late in practice, Cary Williams ran all the way downfield to cover a bomb and had to sit out the next play. I thought that might be an opportunity for Carroll, but undrafted rookie Davon Morgan took his place, probably because he wasn’t playing during that set of team drills. … NFL officials were at practice for the second day and were mostly monitoring contact on passing plays. They are supposed to be more diligent with illegal contact and pass interference calls this season. Is that possible? Do offenses in this league need any more breaks? There were a number of flags thrown, but not all them were defensive pass interference, though. … You love to see this: Jason Kelce stayed after practice to work with Villanueva and a number of undrafted rookie offensive linemen.