Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Practice observations: Babin makes presence felt

At one point, during the second half of practice, Jason Babin lined up at right defensive end with the first team as Trent Cole got a breather.

Practice observations: Babin makes presence felt

Jason Babin is getting a second chance with the Eagles after making the Pro Bowl in 2010. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Jason Babin is getting a second chance with the Eagles after making the Pro Bowl in 2010. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

At one point, during the second half of practice, Jason Babin lined up at right defensive end with the first team as Trent Cole got a breather.

The Eagles were blitzing, and he somehow found himself lined up against tight end Brent Celek. Babin, who goes all out on every snap, used his hands (something he's undoubtedly refined with Jim Washburn) and threw Celek out of the way as if he were a cardboard cut-out and not a 255-pound tight end.

But there was one more man to get by: running back LeSean McCoy. He too was no match for Babin, who trucked him over before "sacking" Michael Vick.

A few minutes later, Babin was hanging on the sidelines, and I heard him talking to new defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove. The conversation appeared to be about Washburn's rotation. Babin, who piled up 12.5 sacks last season while playing 59.7 percent of the snaps, explained that there's room for everyone in Washburn's system, which used eight defensive linemen consistently in Tennessee.

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As Babin took a knee and the second team jumped on the field, Darryl Tapp took his turn at defensive end. He got in Mike Kafka's face, deflected a pass, caught it in the air and took it to the house.

Babin reacted as if the Birds had just won the Super Bowl. Helmet in hand, raised above his head, he took off in a full sprint, racing 60 yards to meet Tapp in the end zone.

If the last couple practices are any indication, the Eagles' new defensive end is going to bring an energy and attitude to this defense that was lacking in 2010.

MORE PRACTICE OBSERVATIONS

* When Michael Vick came on to the field at 8 a.m., he was greeted by a loud ovation from the fans here. He went on to have an outstanding practice, fitting the ball into tight windows time and again. On one play, he hit Riley Cooper in the end zone between Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Kurt Coleman. He also hit Brent Celek and Jason Avant. Later, perfect touch on a deep ball to Chad Hall. There's no DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin, but Vick continues to be the one constant at camp. And he was on fire today.

* The merry-go-round along the Eagles' offensive line continues. Today, Ryan Harris took over as the starting right tackle. After practice, Marty Mornhinweg said Harris was "impressive" and that he was able to pick things up quicker than Mornhinweg expected.

* Jason Kelce continues to rotate in with the first team at center. I don't want to get carried away from less than two weeks of practice, but it looks like the rookie can play. He found himself at the second level against Jamar Chaney on a screen pass and flattened the Eagles' linebacker.

* Interesting competition brewing for the fifth wide receiver position. My guess is it will come down to Johnnie Lee Higgins or Sinorice Moss. Both guys were returning punts at the beginning of practice so special teams could be a deciding factor.

* Nate Allen missed practice with an unspecified knee injury, giving rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett a chance with the starters. Tough to provide too many observations on Jarrett here, given that his strength is laying people out and he doesn't get to do that during training camp.

* In nickel situations, it was still Nnamdi Asomugha and Asante Samuel on the outside and Joselio Hanson in the slot.

* Asomugha stayed on the sidelines during the last part of practice (the team did not say he was injured). That gave Rodgers-Cromartie a chance to play right cornerback with the first team, and he was impressive. Since he's gotten here, DRC has done an excellent job of closing on the ball on comeback routes. And he looks to have great speed.

* Looking lower on the depth chart, it seems rookie Curtis Marsh is ahead of Trevard Lindley. Marsh has been getting reps with Rodgers-Cromartie in the second-team base defense.

* I mentioned Hargrove above. He brought a lot of energy to practice. The defense was without Mike Patterson, Trevor Laws and Antonio Dixon, but Hargrove made his presence felt, playing defensive tackle alongside Cullen Jenkins with the first team. He has a great chance to make the team.

* Casey Matthews has had ups and downs in coverage. He was beat by Clay Harbor for a touchdown, but later broke up a pass over the middle.

* The second-team offensive line was Austin Howard at LT; Evan Mathis at LG; Mike McGlynn at center; Danny Watkins at RG; and Fenuki Tupou at RT. Watkins gets reps with both the first and second teams as he continues to get up to speed.

* Mathis delivered a good block on defensive tackle Derek Landri on a screen pass to Ronnie Brown. It looks like Mathis could be a nice backup for this team.

* Jason Avant made a spectacular one-handed catch, but that seems to happen on a daily basis.

* Yesterday, during the afternoon walkthrough, Mornhinweg spent a good 15 minutes one-on-one with Vince Young. Throwing the ball was not important. It seemed the entire session was about footwork and the first few steps of his drop. It's early, but that's the precise reason Young probably chose Philadelphia. To learn under Mornhinweg, Andy Reid and Vick.


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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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