Saturday, August 1, 2015

Practice notes: DeSean, the CBs and the O-line shuffle

The roar from the crowd grew increasingly louder as DeSean Jackson walked over to Michael Vick to get the play.

Practice notes: DeSean, the CBs and the O-line shuffle

"I want to be where I´m wanted," Asante Samuel said to reporters Monday. (Ed Hille/Staff Photographer)
"I want to be where I'm wanted," Asante Samuel said to reporters Monday. (Ed Hille/Staff Photographer)

The roar from the crowd grew increasingly louder as DeSean Jackson walked over to Michael Vick to get the play.

Wide receiver vs. cornerback one-on-ones just have not been the same this summer.

With Jackson holding out and Jeremy Maclin dealing with an illness, the new talent in the secondary was left to take on guys like Rod Harper and Johnnie Lee Higgins.

No offense to them, but the crowd's excitement in seeing Jackson opposite Asante Samuel was understandable.

More coverage
MTC: Man Up: Watkins, Harris, and the O-line
Fantasy Island: Ranking the top wide receivers
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As Vick dropped back, Jackson started upfield and then headed inside. As Samuel closed, Jackson made a second move in a diagonal line towards the sideline. A perfectly-placed pass was there waiting for him as the crowd went nuts.

Samuel, not usually at a loss for words, kept his mouth shut this time as chants of "Pay DeSean!" emanated from the stands.

The truth is there was no pass rush, and no cornerback in the league could probably stay with Jackson one-on-one on that route with no safety help, but the crowd definitely enjoyed the return of No. 10.


* Two-fifths of the offensive line today looked different from the group we saw start the game Thursday night. Right tackle Ryan Harris missed practice because of back spasms, and Jamaal Jackson had a sore knee. Replacing them were King Dunlap and Jason Kelce, respectively.

* During one of the first drills of the day, I noticed Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri hustle over as the first in line. Defensive leadership has been a question mark with this team ever since Brian Dawkins left, but the Eagles appear to have filled that void nicely this offseason. Babin is a player who was once viewed as a major disappointment around the league and now has the words Pro Bowl on his resume. Jenkins and new defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove have Super Bowl rings. And Nnamdi Asomugha is widely respected around the league. Suddenly, the leadership concern could turn into a strength.

* Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has to be the most fun Eagle to watch in between reps. I remember during one of his first practices, he was fake dribbling a basketball and mimed a jumpshot as he waited. Today, I saw him bust out some dance moves. At least, I think that's what they where.

* But don't worry, the guy can cover too. He matched up against Jackson and did a good job keeping up with him. Jackson delivered a great effort, juggling the ball before eventually coming up with it, but he was out of bounds by the time he gained control.

* Asomugha isn't so bad either. He did a nice job closing and breaking up a Vick pass intended for Riley Cooper in the middle of the field.

* As for where they lined up, Rodgers-Cromartie saw some time in the nickel, rotating inside with Joselio Hanson. He also got some reps at right and left cornerback. Samuel was used exclusively at left corner, and Asomugha exclusively at right corner. But again, this changes from practice to practice.

* Juqua Parker limped off with a calf injury, and Babin took his place at left defensive end. Speaking of Babin, I mentioned this on Twitter, but he and Trent Cole get my vote for biggest Eagles BroMance this summer. As Babin got lined up, he looked over at Trent and said "I'll see ya back there!" meaning back at the quarterback. Last year, it was Stewart Bradley and Ernie Sims, but they're obviously no longer with the team. The other candidates would be the kicker and punter, or as Tim McManus of Philly Sports Daily has appropriately named them, The Law Firm of Henry and Henery.

* Jason Avant got lined up against Rodgers-Cromartie at one point also: the savvy vet vs. the talented newcomer. Avant got off the line of scrimmage and took him inside. Before the ball was even close to arriving, DRC horse-collared Avant to the ground. About those 15 penalties from a season ago...

* It might have only been for a play or two, but at one point it looked like Keenan Clayton and Brian Rolle rotated in as the nickel linebackers. Those spots have normally been filled by Casey Matthews and Jamar Chaney.

* The number two defensive line was Phillip Hunt, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon and Darryl Tapp. Hargrove continues to play alongside Jenkins with the ones.

* The learning process continues for Vince Young. On several plays in a row, he either couldn't find a receiver at all and scrambled, or held onto the ball for a long time before finally passing it. I can't remember the exact drill, but the quarterback is supposed to get rid of the ball quickly.

Afterwards, he walked over to quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson, who told him his decision was OK, and that there was nowhere to go with the ball. Later, Andy Reid called a timeout to help Young with something he was supposed to do pre-snap, likely having to do with protection against the blitz.

Young did have some good moments, particularly one play where he hit Sinorice Moss for a big gain in the middle of the field.

* Hanson blitzed quite a bit from the slot today. According to Pro Football Focus, he blitzed 49 times last year. If Rodgers-Cromartie ends up playing in the slot, it'll be interesting to see how often he's sent after the quarterback.

* If you missed my coverage from Thursday's game, I posted Man Up on the defense yesterday and Man Up on the offense Saturday morning.

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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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