The Eagles go through walk-throughs every morning. Before Saturday afternoon’s practice, there was no contact in the afternoon practice. This is standard procedure and mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, but it begs the question of how the coaching staff – and particularly defensive coordinator Juan Castillo – can form evaluations of players or deduce anything from practice.
Castillo can, and he explained how after Saturday morning’s practice:
“The thing we are getting are assignments,” Castillo said. “That’s why you see us doing the walkthroughs. They’re excellent for [checking assignments]. Part of playing the game is knowing where you have to line up. That is critical and then they can just go play. The thing is to know your assignments so you can play fast. That’s what we are trying to get.”
Castillo said the key to playing defense is muscle memory. The more repetitions, the better the practice. So even in a walk-through, a player can get used to his assignments.
“You do it over and over until they become a natural deal and then you can play,” Castillo said. “If it’s not natural then it’s not going to happen on the field.”
Here are some other tidbits from Castillo's chat with reporters:
- Derek Landri is lining up with the first team, but Castillo continues to say the Eagles have four starters at both defensive tackle and defensive end:
“Just remember that the D-Line has two groups of starters. There are eight guys that play and sometimes nine depending on the situation so really there are eight starters. All of those defensive linemen are competing for those eight spots. What I like about him is that he is a tough guy. He is a guy that people think he can’t do that but he does do that. He is a professional, a leader and a no-nonsense type of guy and always trying to get better. That is a good example for all of the guys.”
- The Eagles drafted Brandon Graham before switching to Jim Washburn's style of defensive line play. Asked whether Graham can play in this system, Castillo said Graham is learning:
“I think just the technique and the concept is not really just the defensive ends running up the field. They have a landing point and a landmark. There is a certain way that they have to rush so that they can play the run game. That is the thing that Brandon is learning. Brandon has a chip on his shoulder. He came back in great shape and I’m excited to see him this afternoon.”