Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Practice notes: Watkins, Brown and the O-line

There was a new body on the right side of the Eagles' offensive line today for the first time.

Practice notes: Watkins, Brown and the O-line

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There was a new body on the right side of the Eagles' offensive line today for the first time.

Danny Watkins, No. 63, took his place in between rookie center Jason Kelce and right tackle Austin Howard.

The Eagles have switched things up quite a bit in the past couple of practices, trying different line combinations with the first team as the first preseason game awaits in eight days.

In all likelihood, when the Eagles take on the Rams in Week 1, neither Kelce nor Howard will be in the starting lineup. But assuming he can get up to speed, Watkins will be.

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And so, the education began today.

After missing nine practices/walk-throughs, Watkins took his place as the starting right guard. The offense ran through a couple plays in slow motion during the "install" portion of practice. While the rest of the first team remained, Howard Mudd called Watkins over one point to go over some things off to the side.

Then Watkins just watched, helmet in hand, about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, standing between Mudd and Andy Reid. Kelce came over and chatted with him. Next up was Todd Herremans. And even Michael Vick.

When it was time for the third team to take the field, Watkins put his helmet back on. The more reps, the better. There's a lot of catching up to do.

When the field goal unit came on, there was Watkins, watching once again. At one point, Andy Reid, who is very territorial about his field, motioned for him to move out of the way.

By my count, Watkins will have 13 practices/walkthroughs under his belt by the time the Eagles take the field against the Ravens on Aug. 11. And 39 days until they open the season in St. Louis.

Until then, expect him to be attached at the hip with Mudd.

MORE PRACTICE NOTES

* I mentioned it above, but the Eagles really are moving quite a few bodies around on the offensive line. Kelce, a sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati, saw some time at center with the first team, rotating with Jamaal Jackson. While the Eagles ran through goal-line drills, Vick tripped repeatedly, apparently tangling feet with Kelce. Not a huge surprise, considering their lack of familiarity. I guess that's what training camp is for.

* Howard ran with the first team at right tackle for the second day in a row. That should change once newly-acquired Ryan Harris (wrote about him last night) gets here. Reid was asked about Winston Justice and said the lockout probably hurt him. Justice was the Eagles' player rep, and while Reid conceded that he's working hard, he pointed out that Justice's involvement in labor negotiations might have set him back.

* The Eagles could probably field a pretty good team with players who are not practicing. Justice, Brandon Graham, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Vince Young, Jeremy Maclin and Nnamdi Asomugha. Am I missing anyone?

* During goal-line drills, the Eagles ran play-action and Vick found Brent Celek in the corner of the end zone. With all that's happened during camp, Celek is kind of a forgotten man. Last year, he had two red-zone touchdowns, but in 2009, Celek had six.

* Ronnie Brown was introduced to the media after practice. Yesterday, I wrote about he might fit in with the Eagles. My guess is he'll probably average fewer than 10 snaps a game and will get a handful of touches.

But that doesn't mean I think it's a bad deal. I cited several of his stats from a year ago, but a few people who are more familiar with the Dolphins have pointed out Brown wasn't getting a lot of help. Fair enough. He sounds like a running back who is comfortable in his role as a backup and can play the Big Brother role to LeSean McCoy. I asked Brown specifically about his ability as a blocker and he said that's an area he's comfortable and confident with. Brown had a red Phillies hat on before his press conference. Someone brought him over an Eagles visor, and he switched it up.

* I wrote about Mike Patterson earlier, and by all accounts, he's OK and in good spirits. Very scary scene this morning though.


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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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