Thursday, February 11, 2016

Avant: Timing, technique different with Kolb

Jason Avant was back out at practice Tuesday afternoon, lining up wherever the coaches needed him. Entering his fifth season, he's looking to get his timing down with new QB Kevin Kolb.

Avant: Timing, technique different with Kolb

Eagles WR Jason Avant will look to improve his yards after the catch this season. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Eagles WR Jason Avant will look to improve his yards after the catch this season. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

At one point during Tuesday's practice, with no DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant lined up outside in a two-receiver set.

Later, he was in his usual spot in the slot.

He stayed in behind the left tackle to block during another play.

And even took a lateral before throwing downfield to Hank Baskett on a trick play.

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When practice was over and players headed indoors, Avant spent time with special-teams coach Bobby April, getting reps as the holder on field goals, just in case he's ever called on to do that.

In the NFL, a lot of players say they'll do whatever the coaches ask them to do, and whatever it takes to win. Sometimes they mean it, sometimes they don't.

Avant has shown over the years he means it.

Coming off a year in which he set career highs in receptions (41), yards (587), yards per catch (14.3) and touchdowns (3), Avant said he's still got a lot to improve on this offseason.

"Just when I catch the ball, how to get my hip open quicker to get up the field," Avant told me after practice. "Most of my stuff is still looking at the ball, but after the catch stuff."

The after-the-catch stuff is an interesting theme. Before last season, Avant's highest yards per catch average was 11.8 in 2008. That jumped 2.5 yards in 2009.

And based on Avant's comments, he's looking for that number to increase this season as well. I asked him what the difference is between catching the ball from Donovan McNabb, as opposed to Kevin Kolb.

"Don kind of pushed it on your body a little bit more," Avant said. "Kevin is kind of out front, so when we used to get ready to settle down because we knew the ball was gonna be on our body, we gotta keep running because of Kevin. So it's timing that you have to get used to again."

Before some of you overreact, this was meant in no way to be a jab at McNabb. Avant was simply trying to explain to me the difference in timing and technique playing receiver for the two quarterbacks.

McNabb had a stronger arm than Kolb. He could afford to wait a little longer to get the ball out because he could still get it to his receivers. At times though, that meant the receiver not having the best chance to make a play afterwards.

It's something Kolb will have to prove he's capable of doing, but it seems clear that when he has success next season, it will likely be when he hits receivers in stride and allows them to pick up yards after the catch.

And finally, Avant was asked how good this group of Eagles receivers can be. I imagine that if you asked a coach how he'd want his player to answer such a question, he would pretty much use Avant's response as a blueprint.

"I don't like to comment how good can you be or potential. That stuff doesn't mean anything," he said. "It's about going out here, working, playing as hard as you can and just doing it consistently, day in and day out. It doesn't matter what we did last year. It doesn't matter what we did two years ago. This league is about what you do for me right now, and if we go out and prepare like that and have a humble mentality, and work harder than other people, rather than thinking we're better than other people, based on talent, we'll do fine."

You can check out some of Avant's comments from our video report.

I'll be back at Novacare today with more practice observations and another video so check back.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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