The Eagles held their final practice of minicamp on Thursday. Before I yaba-daba-doo my way out of the NovaCare Complex for the next month, here are some observations:
-- There was a rare chance to watch Vinny Curry line up as a 4-3 defensive end. The Eagles second team defense had its nickel package on the field and Curry was on the left edge in a three-point stance. He zoomed around right tackle Andrew Gardner and shot to quarterback Mark Sanchez. The play continued, of course, but Curry would have sacked Sanchez. Curry was perhaps the Eagles’ best passing down rusher last season, but he did most of his damage from inside. I wonder if Bill Davis and Jerry Azzinaro will try to get him in more one-on-one situations on the outside where he was originally drafted to play. Curry was one of the few players the Eagles could have traded this offseason and gotten decent return. But only half the league runs a 4-3 base defense, so it must have been hard to get offers. Curry has to learn to play in the Eagles’ hybrid, 3-4-leaning front, but it would be nice to someday see what he would be capable of doing as a full-time 4-3 end.
-- Josh Huff was very active the last two days of minicamp. He lined up almost everywhere and worked with all three teams. He isn’t very long for a receiver – a generously-listed 5-foot-11, but he has a base that looks running-back solid and maybe the biggest arms I have ever seen on a receiver. He’s the type of player the Eagles want to get in space because he’s not afraid to take on contact. That may come as a kick returner, but I imagine he will have a role in the offense as well. “I like physicality,” Huff said. “I like being hit.”
-- Jeremy Maclin had a nice day. The most important thing for him this spring was that he left camp healthy, but the Eagles had to be pleased with his performance. On Thursday, he snatched a high throw at one point and later one went down and pulled in a pass down near his shoelaces. The Eagles need Maclin to be the old Maclin, but they can ill afford to lose him to injury.
-- As for the quarterbacks, the performance of the four was about par for the last four weeks. Nick Foles was very sharp. His best toss was probably a 30-yard strike to Riley Cooper down the sideline. It was the final play from that set and after Foles and the offense ran downfield, Cooper fired a 20-yard pass back to Foles. Sanchez has his second solid day in a row based on what these eyes saw. Matt Barkley, who took some repetitions with the second team for the second straight day, had a mixed bag of throws. He overshot Damaris Johnson near the end of practice and a defender tipped it to safety Keelan Johnson for an interception. Barkley had the last throw of camp – a back shoulder toss (well, maybe more back knees) that Will Murphy couldn’t hang onto. G.J. Kinne, who mostly split third team snaps, has been right there with Barkley, in my opinion.
-- The Eagles practiced punting inside the 20 and Donnie Jones was masterful. He had this one kick that, from the end zone, appeared as if it was going to be shanked out of the bounds. But it hooked back onto the field, bounced at the 5-yard line and went sideways. It looked like he used the 60-degree wedge. I asked Jones about it after practice and he said it was a new punt he had been working on this offseason. He said he didn’t have a name for it yet and suggested I come up with one. How about a “knuckle curve?”
-- A few quickies: Carey Spear (aka Muderleg) had a rough day with field goals. He missed three straight at one point, each one hooked further left than the other. Alex Henery was perfect. … Receiver Jeff Maehl was back at practice after sitting out Wednesday with an apparent right leg injury. … Cornerback Bradley Fletcher broke up a pass from Barkley to receiver Arrelious Benn. … Jordan Matthews caught a deep pass down the sideline over cornerback Roc Carmichael. Matthews has a five-inch height advantage on Carmichael, but that’s one reason the Eagles liked him so much. There’s been a lot of hype about the rookie receiver, but I will say he at the least looked like a legit NFL receiver in camp. … There were several other drops (B.J. Cunningham, Chris Polk) and no music (music to my ears) for the final 30 minutes of practice.