Thursday, December 25, 2014

Practice notes: Castillo's 'in your face' approach

Juan Castillo didn't like what he saw.

Practice notes: Castillo's 'in your face' approach

Juan Castillo and his defensive staff are employing a new approach, as evidenced by this head-butt to Keenan Clayton. (Rich Schultz/AP)
Juan Castillo and his defensive staff are employing a new approach, as evidenced by this head-butt to Keenan Clayton. (Rich Schultz/AP)

Juan Castillo didn't like what he saw.

The Eagles were in the "individuals" portion of practice, where different positional groups work on their own.

Castillo observed the linebackers who were running through a drill that focused on taking on and shedding blocks.

Second-year player Keenan Clayton was up. As he took on the blocker, it appeared he didn't keep his heads and eyes up.

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Castillo did not like that. He chewed him out for a few seconds, got in his face and finally head-butted him just to emphasize his point.

Now keep in mind, Clayton had a helmet on. The kind of helmet that is meant to protect players from concussions and head injuries. But also the kind of helmet that has been known to cause concussions and head injuries.

Castillo? No helmet for him.

Later, Casey Matthews laughed about the incident and said Castillo caught the rest of the linebackers off-guard. During his post-practice press conference, Castillo even had a little cut on his forehead. According to Matthews, the head-butt is what caused it.

This is the new "tough love" approach from the Eagles' coaching staff, and specifically defensive coaches Castillo and Jim Washburn. I mentioned Clayton above, but he's not the only one who's been on the receiving end of one of their rants.

I'm pretty sure every single defensive lineman has been called a number of different names by Washburn, none of which are suitable to print here. At times, I wonder if Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is going to need therapy at some point. I know I would.

But that's how things are going to be. There will be no kid gloves, no concerns about egos and hurt feelings. Only a focus on doing things the right way, over and over again.

It's certainly a different approach from years past. You get the sense the players, and specifically the veterans, don't mind it. Trent Cole said yesterday he hasn't been yelled at this much since his rookie year, but that's just fine with him.

It remains to be seen whether the new approach will translate to an improved defensive unit, but so far, it appears to be a welcome change.

MORE PRACTICE OBSERVATIONS

* Castillo said he's "fired up" about having three talented cornerbacks, something he thinks is necessary in today's NFL. He explained that he rode to practice in the same car as Nnamdi Asomugha and that Asomugha actually suggested using him like the Packers used Charles Woodson - covering slot receivers, blitzing, etc. I'll take a more detailed look in the next couple days at how the Packers used Woodson and whether that could work.

* Jaiquawn Jarrett played alongside Nate Allen with the first-team defense. Kurt Coleman was out with an ankle injury.

* Some shake-ups on the offensive line. Austin Howard saw a lot of time at right tackle with the first team in place of King Dunlap. Julian Vandervelde rotated in at right guard as Mike McGlynn took reps at center with the second team.

* I did see defensive linemen drop back in coverage at one point today so that might not be completely out of the picture. Just as long as it's not on third down, as Cole pointed out yesterday. I also saw the Eagles working on a call where they blitzed eight, so let's slow down with all that Cover-2 talk as well.

* LeSean McCoy took a screen pass to the house on one play. Rookie Jason Kelce had an excellent block on Marlin Jackson on another screen.

* Asomugha spent much of practice observing, trying to pick things up. At one point, Colt Anderson was actually answering his questions. One guy who's a special-teamer filling in another guy who's one of the top cornerbacks in the game.

* Time for our first Jason Avant anecdote of camp. Michael Vick looked for him deep down the near sideline, but Trevard Lindley and Nate Allen broke up the play, colliding with Avant in the process. The veteran wide receiver was slow to get up, and when he finally started jogging back to the huddle, wide receivers coach David Culley told him someone else would fill in on the next play. No they won't, Avant replied. I'm in. He's 28 years old, in his sixth year in the league and assured a spot as the team's slot receiver. But Avant didn't want to take the play off and miss even one rep.

* Victor Abiamiri has been getting reps at defensive tackle in place of Brodrick Bunkley with the second team.

* A couple posts over the weekend that you might have missed. I explained why keeping Samuel makes sense. Also, some thoughts on how Cullen Jenkins might fit in. And finally, how Michael Vick's role has been at the center of the Eagles' offseason moves.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. 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 skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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