The offense got back to basics today, with the quarterbacks throwing careful, mostly short passes and handing the ball to their running backs during a hard-hitting morning practice under a hot, hot sun.
There was much live action and tackling for the first time in several days, and both offense and defense had moments of real attitude.
The offense took short gains in 11-on-11 drills, the first team mostly handing the ball inside to LeSean McCoy or taking short passes from Kevin Kolb. Kolb and DeSean Jackson showed some rapport, linking for a roughly 15 yard pass play. Kolb on the next play found Jackson again after he had beaten Asante Samuel, but the wide receiver dropped the pass. There were no interceptions thrown this morning.
Trent Cole had a would-be "sack" against the second team offense and Darryl Tapp had one against the first team, blowing past Jason Peters.
Both sides were delivering big hits. Leonard Weaver was crunched between three defenders after receiving a pass on the first play of live hitting. Hank Baskett got rolled up on in what looked like an ugly collision, but was back on the field a short time later.
Quintin Demps delivered a big hit on Chad Hall after a short reception, then followed it up with a would-be "sack" on Mike Kafka the next play.
In non-contact seven-on-seven drills, Ernie Sims smacked Clay Harbor. Sims has a habit of hitting even when the team isn't tackling.
Eldra Buckley, meanwhile, ran hard -- sometimes for little gain, sometimes plowing through for four or five yards. On the run of the day, he broke past the line and, as tacklers latched on, took a big hit from Asante Samuel but absorbed it and kept on going, dragging defenders for another couple yards.
Samuel somehow emerged still talking trash. "Where you at three-four?" he called from the sidelines.
Andy Reid got on his team at several point, urging them to pick up the tempo and shouting at players on the sidelines who crept too close to the action.
Cornelius Ingram sat out the morning practice. The team said it was just rest for his surgically repaired knee. Omar Gaither was also out with ankle inflammation.
Mike Bell, Jeremy Maclin and A.Q. Shipley worked in the early, non-contact part of practice, but sat out most of it.
Ricky Sapp (knee), Macho Harris (hamstring), Antonio Dixon (concussion), Martin Rucker (hamstring) and Keenan Clayton (personal reasons) continued to sit out. Todd Herremans and Jamaal Jackson continued to work out on the side.
Avant fields punts
Jason Avant fielded punts during the special teams portion of practice, but had a rough morning doing it. One punt popped off his chest and into the air and he bobbled another catch. From the sideline, David Akers was giving him tips about how to read the flight of the ball.
Special teams coach Bobby April said that with the team's top two returners, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, "nicked up," he wanted to work in another returner. He said Avant had fielded punts in college, so he has experience, and is sure to be on the team. The logic makes sense, but it sounded like an ominous note for Chad Hall, a wide receiver whose best shot to make the squad may be as a return man.