Matthews at MLB and other notes from Eagles practice

The Eagles just wrapped up their first practice of camp open to the press. It was a relatively light session – no pads. Here are some quick observations, keeping in mind that they still have a lot of people to sign to fill out the roster:

-- They had Casey Matthews at middle linebacker with the first team defense, and he was running the huddle. (Granted, this is so early there probably aren’t many variations going on). CORRECTION FROM EARLIER: Jamar Chaney was on the weakside in nickel formations, but on the strong side in the base defense. Moise Fokou was on the weak side in base. I’m very curious to see if the Eagles believe in Matthews enough to go into week one with him starting and calling plays from the middle, or if they look for a veteran there.

-- Punter Chas Henry was blasting the ball in his first time out.

-- There were clear signs of rust. Michael Vick and Mike Kafka struggled to complete passes as timing was a clear issue. There were several misses and interceptions (including a diving pick by Kurt Coleman). Several guys looked tired fast – including Jason Peters, who huffed and puffed his way off the field early on.

-- Nate Allen was on the field for the “install” period, where the offense and defense go over plays without real opposition. He was sidelined during the more intense (though non-hitting) 11 on 11 drills. Marlin Jackson stepped in for Allen in the 11 on 11s.

-- Juan Castillo was in mid-season form, racing after plays.

-- Jason Avant’s hands are in mid-camp form – he made a nice lunging grab, and Chad Hall had a diving reception. Clay Harbor had a bobble and Brent Celek missed a pass that he got his hands on but that looked a bit behind him.