There was a real buzz at Lehigh today as Nnamdi Asomugha took the field for the first time as an Eagle.
As interesting as it was to see the lanky cover man in action, many of us were watching to see how exactly the Eagles used him with Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The answer: a lot of ways.
At various points in the day Asomugha was at right cornerback, lined up over the tight end and even back in a safety-like position (he played safety in college). For a few plays the Eagles showed a dime package with Asomugha over tight end, Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at the corners, Joselio Hanson in the slot and Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen at safety. Jamar Chaney was the sole linebacker.
In the base defense, Asomugha was at right corner, Samuel at left. In a bit of a surprise, Hanson came in at nickel with the first team defense. Rodgers-Cromartie was at left corner with the second team.
The various looks show that the Eagles plan to try – or at least test – a number of different things with Asomugha. He was in coverage at times, blitzing at others. Hanson said Asomugha could be the guy that finally shuts down opposing tight ends.
In one drill Asomugha picked off a Vince Young pass, getting a hand slap from Michael Vick afterwards. He was covering Chad Hall.
Asomugha said he was excited to get back on the field after not practicing since December, but admitted that there was a lot of learning to do, especially with all of the different roles he may fill.
“It makes it a little difficult, but they put that on me because they know and I know that I can get it down soon,” Asomugha said. “I’m out there and everyone’s talking to me it seems, in the middle of the play.”
Nate Allen, the second-year safety, was vocal in directing traffic from the back of the defense and giving Asomgha instruction at times.
Asked about playing on the second team Rodgers-Cromartie seemed OK with it.
“That’s just the role I’ve got to play and I’m just going to be ready,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
Asante Samuel said it seemed to be going well, but that it’s “all on paper” just now.
“I’m out there every day just to work hard and do what I do. They pay me to come to work everyday,” Samuel said several times, including when asked if he expects to be here for the full season.
-- Jeremy Maclin was working on the side with other rehabbing players. Andy Reid said he expects Maclin to be ready for the season, but did not offer any more details on his medical condition. Still no DeSean Jackson, though he’s got to report by Aug. 9 to get credit toward free agency.
-- Rodgers-Cromartie’s speed is impressive. At several points in camp he has come from a step behind receivers to catch up and break up a pass. Today he was chasing Rod Harper deep, behind by a half step, when a throw went up. Defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn shouted “gotta go!” and DRC kicked it up a gear, made up the ground and broke up the pass.
-- Jason Babin was the second team defensive end. Juqua Parker ran with the first team. Babin now has Trevor Laws’ number 93. Darryl Tapp moved to 55 (his number in Seattle). Laws took Tapp’s 91. Babin may be the team’s second biggest on-field talker, after Samuel.
-- Anthony Hargrove and Cullen Jenkins were the first team DTs. Derek Landri was running with the second team along with Cedric Thornton.
-- Vince Young still has a lot of sidearm in his throws. He was the third team QB today behind Mike Kafka. That’s likely to change as he learns the offense.
-- The offensive line rotation continues. Jason Kelce got some looks at first team center. Fenuki Tupou got a look at starting right tackle. Ryan Harris was running with the second team.
-- Daniel Te’o-Nesheim had a few nice moments in one-on-one blocking drills, dusting Austin Howard and King Dunlap. Tough to say if that’s improved pass rush from last year’s third round pick or just poor blocking.
-- Philip Hunt also easily beat Howard with a spin move. He has looked far better than last year’s Canadian import, Martell Mallett.
-- Keenan Clayton and Evan Mathis mixed it up briefly. The scuffle ended fast, though.
-- Curtis Marsh picked off an underthrown pass. Samuel showed the rookie how to celebrate. He gave him a leaping chest thump, grabbed the ball and spiked it himself.
-- Big DeAndre Brown had a nice grab on a fade pattern. Young on the throw. Sinorice Moss had a good catch and run.
-- Casey Matthews shot through a gap to get to LeSean McCoy in the backfield during 11 on 11 drills.
-- Alex Henery hit a field goal from 48 yards out, with plenty of room to spare.
-- Eagles legend Chuck Bednarik, hospitalized this spring, was at practice wearing all black. He was chatting with owner Jeffrey Lurie.
-- Trent Cole left practice early with cramps. Marlin Jackson was out with a groin injury. Laws has a sore hip flexor and might not be back for the next couple days, Reid said. Antonio Dixon was out with a knee sprain but is expected back soon, Reid said. Dion Lewis is out with an ankle injury.