Saturday, October 10, 2015

Nnamdi on DRC's speed: "Eye-opening"

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Yesterday Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was playing more nickel. Today Joselio Hanson was back almost exclusively in the slot. Yesterday Nnamdi Asomugha played mostly on the outside at right cornerback. Today he lined up a little more in the slot where he could blitz.

Nnamdi on DRC's speed: "Eye-opening"

Nnamdi Asomugha, right, has been impressed by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie´s speed.  (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Nnamdi Asomugha, right, has been impressed by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's speed. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Yesterday Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was playing more nickel. Today Joselio Hanson was back almost exclusively in the slot. Yesterday Nnamdi Asomugha played mostly on the outside at right cornerback. Today he lined up a little more in the slot where he could blitz.

With each day at Eagles training camp, defensive coordinator Juan Castillo unveils a new look for his superstar secondary that also includes Asante Samuel. Some of it has to do with the plays that are being installed for that particular day. But it's becoming clear that Castillo's intention is to have so many different looks that opposing offenses won't know who will be playing and who will be where when the games count.

"Every day it's something new and some of us are in different positions," Asomugha said. "It's just getting a feel for who does what best and what plays we can put this person inside and what plays we can put the other guy outside."

Asmougha, who mostly played man-to-man defense in Oakland, admitted that all the learning has not been easy, and that he never knows where he may be playing on any given day. Not that he's complaining.

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"No, I like it this way because it doesn't give any offense a beat on what we're doing," said Asomugha. "If you're in the same spot every time then they'll know how to attack you, but if you change it up then they won't know what to do."

Rodgers-Cromartie played left cornerback with the second team, one time blitzing all the way from the outside. Quarterback Vince Young had little time to react and could not escape the blazing-fast DRC.

"On defense I don't think I've played with a faster guy than Cromartie," Asomugha said. "Some of the stuff that he's able to do athletically is pretty eye-opening."

The defense is normally ahead of the offense during the early weeks of training camp, but Castillo's unit dominated on a soggy morning at Lehigh University. The defense had the upper hand during a team blitz period and in the red zone.

A few observations:

-- Both Trent Cole and Jason Babin recorded sacks -- or at least what qualifies for a sack in practice -- during the red zone period.

-- Quarterback Michael Vick completed 3 of 5 passes facing the blitz during the first period, but struggled the rest of the way.

-- Because of the wet field, one on ones between the offensive and defensive lines were moved to another area where the defensive linemen had to run uphill. The uphill climb didn't seem to affect end Phillip Hunt, who showed power and speed getting by right tackle Evan Mathis.

-- During seven-on-seven run drills, middle linebacker Casey Matthews shot through the gap on two out of three plays and got to running back LeSean McCoy in the backfield.

-- Tight end Brent Celek effectively blocked Babin during one McCoy run. Celek can often be seen working with coach Howard Mudd and the offensive line. 

-- Cornerback Trevard Lindley nicely broke up a deep pass from quarterback Mike Kafka to wide receiver Rod Harper. Lindley, a 2010 fourth-round pick, has gotten lost in the shuffle with the new star cornerbacks and the solid play of rookie Curtis Marsh.

-- A number of Vick's completed passes in the red zone went to DeSean Jackson on short routes. Jackson took one catch into the end zone.

-- Cornerback Brandon Hughes played on the second team for a few team periods. The cornerback depth on defense is frightening.

-- Castillo has maintained his energy even into the third week of camp. During a run drill he jumped into a play to congratulate a linebacker and was nearly run over by running back Dion Lewis.

-- Mudd, who walks like the Hunchback of Notre Dame because of back and knee issues, spends part of his practice time in a cart. When the horn sounded to end practice he beckoned his driver to head to the huddle. The cart wouldn't move because of the wet field. Mudd jumped out, barked at the young driver and walked himself.


-- Tackle Ryan Harris missed his second straight practice because of back spasms. He declined an interview request following practice. "Not till I'm back on the field," he told a couple reporters. King Dunlap played mostly in his place.

-- Center Jamaal Jackson returned after missing Saturday's practice with knee tendinitis. Jackson was used sparingly. Jason Kelce took the rest of the first team snaps at center. Jackson, too, declined to comment.

-- Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon sat out with back spasms. Linebacker Greg Lloyd did not practice because of a high ankle sprain. Defensive end Juqua Parker was on the shelf for the second day in a row with a calf injury.

-- Trevor Laws (hip flexor) did not practice again. It's been almost two weeks since he's been out on the field. Tackle Fenuki Tupou (MCL sprain) and running back Derrick Locke (shoulder) were out.

-- Defensive tackle Mike Patterson is still only conditioning. The team is expected to have an update on his condition tomorrow. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is still in St. Louis.

-- Tackle Winston Justice (knee) and Brandon Graham (knee) remain on PUP and are still rehabbing along with recently-added wide receiver Steve Smith (knee).

Speaking of Smith, the former New York Giant jumped into the summer Twitter war between McCoy and Giants end Osi Umenyiora. While the two were going back and forth Smtih chimed in to remind McCoy that the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl.

After he was signed last Wednesday, Smith was asked about being on the same team with McCoy. He said he would "go up to LeSean the first day I see him and shake his hand and hug him and tell them that was all just Twitter beef."

McCoy said today that Smith had yet to come up to him.

"I don't even know what he looks like," McCoy said.

Inquirer Staff Writer
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