Friday, February 12, 2016

April fools his own team, plus other notes from the afternoon practice Wed.

Special team coach Bobby April tricked his own players to teach a key point about kick returns.

April fools his own team, plus other notes from the afternoon practice Wed.

Special Teams coach Bobby April gives instructions to special team members during morning training camp on Wednesday. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
Special Teams coach Bobby April gives instructions to special team members during morning training camp on Wednesday. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Special teams coach Bobby April is easily among the most entertaining people in the Eagles organization. He was teaching kick off returns today, and spent several minutes stressing a particular formation he wanted his blockers to use. Then, as the eager rookies prepared to fall back into their spots, he had Ken Parrish dribble out an onside kick, catching the return team completely off guard.

April was making a point: nothing else matters if the team gives up the ball to a surprise onside kick. No matter how eager the blockers are to set up a return, they need to watch the ball go over their heads before rushing back to position.

"They can end up with egg on their face if they don't do what they're supposed to do first," April said.

You get the impression that his little trick will reinforce that point far better than any lecture.

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"Saying it and doing it are two totally different things," April said.

The enthusiastic coach -- he punctuates nearly every repetition with "that's it! good! good! good! good!" -- is eager to see what his special teams unit does once hitting begins.

"(Special teams) is kind of like NASCAR, you've got to be able to go real fast through traffic," April said. "If you know there's no traffic, and you know there's no collision, it's easy to go fast."

Other notes from Wednesday's second practice:

Tight end Clay Harbor had a strong afternoon, catching a touchdown pass from Michael Vick in a red zone drill. At one point linebacker Simoni Lawrence, who has made a habit of roughly jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, tried to knock Harbor off course. Harbor absorbed the blow, kept going and caught a pass.

Vick looked more on target today than yesterday, when his throws were erratic.

Lawrence had an interception off Mike Kafka.

Kevin Kolb threw a precision touchdown strike to Riley Cooper who, with his long hair and big frame, is becoming an early fan favorite.

As many expected, the team has tried running fade routes to Cooper. Today, though, he was jammed by cornerback Trevard Lindley, who has shown some good coverage skills against fellow rookies. Lindley has battled with Cooper and held his own, despite giving up several inches in height and roughly 40 pounds.

The defense is getting quite a work out. There are only nine defenders who work in the seven-on-seven drills, leaving just two substitutes to run through coverage after coverage. "I want to see mental toughness," said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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