Thursday, February 11, 2016

Practice notes: LBs and 'tough love' from coaches

Here are some practice observations I didn't get to in my earlier post on Michael Vick:

Practice notes: LBs and 'tough love' from coaches


Here are some practice observations I didn't get to in my earlier post on Michael Vick:

* Let's start with the linebackers since I've fielded about 200 questions about them on Twitter the last couple of days.

First of all, I really don't know if the Eagles are going to add a veteran. On the surface, it would make a lot of sense since six of the eight linebackers currently practicing are first- or second-year players. But I can't say there are a lot of intriguing names out there. Part of me finds it hard to believe they'd trust a rookie, Casey Matthews, to man the middle. But another part of me remembers that Jamar Chaney was their best middle linebacker last year, and he was a rookie.

So we'll just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, the first team continues to be the same: Matthews in the middle, Chaney at the SAM and Moise Fokou at the WILL.

The second-team has Greg Lloyd in the middle, Rashad Jeanty at the SAM and Keenan Clayton at the WILL.

In the nickel, it was Matthews and Chaney. And Brian Rolle was in there with Clayton with the second team.

* Speaking of Clayton, one thing I've noticed this year from the coaching staff is they are not afraid to call players out or get in their faces. Yesterday, Clayton wasn't going as hard as Juan Castillo wanted, and Castillo gave him the business before making him run through a drill again.

Castillo's energy has never been in question. He probably burns as many calories as some of the players, jumping from station to station, offering instruction. Yesterday, he huddled the entire defense and spoke to them about "tough love", explaining that when the coaches yell at players, they are only trying to help.

Yesterday, I talked about Jim Washburn and his no-nonsense approach. I'm pretty sure he's yelled at every defensive lineman here in the past two days. But Jason Babin said earlier today players will get used to that.

"The thing that I'd like to stress about him the most is that everyone sees he's rough, in your face. Honestly, the thing I like the most is he doesn't have a filter. You guys are out there and you see how it is," Babin said. "Sometimes the truth hurts, but it's truth. At the same time, you do what you're supposed to. You bust your butt, go as hard as you can to the best of your ability and make plays, he's going to hug you up like you're his lost son. You get both aspects and a lot of time you don't see that about him."

* If you're wondering how the cornerbacks lined up today, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was at left cornerback and Joselio Hanson was at right cornerback with the ones. In the nickel, Hanson moved inside, and Trevard Lindley came on as the third corner.

* On the defensive line, the look is the same. Trent Cole, Antonio Dixon, Mike Patterson and Juqua Parker with the ones. Darryl Tapp, Brodrick Bunkley, Trevor Laws and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim with the twos. By the way, hopefully Te'o-Nesheim buys into that "tough love" thing because Washburn has been in his ear quite a bit.

* The wide receiver vs. cornerback drills are much less entertaining when Asante Samuel isn't here. He's famous for keeping them lively, chatting up his fellow defensive backs and talking hoise to wide receivers coach David Culley.

* It never gets old seeing someone like Dion Lewis (5-8) or Sinorice Moss (5-8) stand next to Austin Howard (6-7) or King Dunlap (6-9). Football: A game for all sizes.

* Defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn needs some salt water. His voice is shot already, and it's only the third real day of practice. Not sure he'd be able to even introduce himself to Nnamdi Asomugha if necessary.

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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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