It was a low-key practice in damp conditions Thursday morning. Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick were given the day off, leaving plenty of repetitions for rookie Mike Kafka.
Kafka is expected to be the emergency quarterback this year, but could carve out a role for the future. The Eagles obviously thought enough of Kafka to take him in the fourth round, and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg delivered an eye-popping assessment of the quarterback's smarts.
Asked about how fast Kafka is learning the offense, Mornhinweg said, "he's the best rookie that way I've ever had in 15, 16, 17 years. He's really sharp. He's sharp book-wise, too, but he's also very intelligent athletically."
Kafka, a Northwestern product, threw around 17 passes in seven-on-seven drills and completed about nine, mostly on short routes, by my very rough count. A couple were dropped, and one went off a receiver's finger tips and was intercepted by safety Ryan Hamilton, a Council Rock North alum.
Kafka, who played in a prolific spread offense in college, was sharp on short and underneath throws but missed several passes on deep looks or throws to the sidelines that required more power.
Mornhinweg said it was important to see how Kafka responded to making many throws, and having to get back into action immediately after a mistake. To this point, the rookie has had few practice repetitions behind Kolb and Vick.
"I wanted to see how he could go back-to-back-to-back-to-back. You know he was going to make a mistake at some point in there and how he responds to that, and he did a terrific job today," Mornhinweg said. "It was a good experience for him."
After all the throws, Kafka still stayed after practice to work some more with wide receiver Chad Hall.
-- The offensive and defensive linemen scrapped in one-on-one pass rushing drills, one of the more entertaining and gritty features of camp so far. The power displays were punctuated by offensive line coach Juan Castillo shouting encouragement and running up to the wrangling competitors, sometimes so close that he could have provided a double team.
Castillo seemed particularly encouraged at one point by the performance of Jeraill McCuller, a soft spoken giant who goes six-foot-seven, 320-pounds.
"He's been knee-deep in me every day," said McCuller, an undrafted free agent from North Carolina State.
"Today was the first day when I just felt really comfortable, getting out here practicing hard, going up against the best talent in the world," McCuller said. Wait until the vets get here tonight.
Overall, the offense seemed to get the better of the drill, though defensive tackle Jeff Owens showed impressive power in bowling through a couple of blocks.
-- The Eagles worked out two receivers today: Kelley Washington and Jared Perry. Washington, 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, last played for the Ravens last season. In six NFL seasons, Washington caught 107 passes for 1,327 and 11 TDs. The 6-1, 180-pound Perry is an undrafted rookie out of Missouri. He was recently cut by the 49ers.
-- When asked if wide receiver DeSean Jackson would continue to return punts, Mornhinweg said, "Why wouldn't you?"
-- Mornhinweg said that Chad Hall, who has played strictly at wideout thus far in camp, would get some reps at running back.