Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Riley Cooper's learning experience

Eagles fifth-round pick Riley Cooper lined up out wide on the right side of the formation and ran a quick 5-yard route. When he turned around, the pass had arrived from rookie QB Mike Kafka. The ball went right through Cooper's hands and hit the ground.

Riley Cooper's learning experience

Eagles WR Riley Cooper participates in rookie camp. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)
Eagles WR Riley Cooper participates in rookie camp. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

Eagles fifth-round pick Riley Cooper lined up out wide on the right side of the formation and ran a quick 5-yard route.

When he turned around, the pass had arrived from rookie quarterback Mike Kafka. The ball went right through Cooper's hands and hit the ground.

Almost immediately, wide receivers coach David Culley directed him to line up and do it again. At the line of scrimmage, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was waiting for him with further instructions.

And so Cooper did it again - this time turning around and making the grab.

The scene is typical of what I saw at the first day of OTAs for rookies and selected vets. My point is not to single out Cooper. Pretty much every player on the field made a mistake at some point. Kafka overthrew tight end Cornelius Ingram, ran the play again and then hit him. Running back Martell Mallett lined up in the wrong place, his teammates tried to help him, and then Mornhinweg made everyone huddle up again.

That's what these practices are for. Rookies run through a rep, and when the play is over (or sometimes before it starts), they have a coach in their ear, telling them what they did wrong, and sometimes what they did right. It can be an overwhelming process - getting drafted, picking up a playbook and then being expected to have a grasp of things weeks later. But that's why they have these sessions in the weeks leading up to training camp.

Some other notes:

* It's interesting to see which players are in teaching roles at these practices. Guys like Joe Mays, who have been around the team, but are from locks to make the roster, were answering rookies' questions as they waited their turns during drills.

* This brings up a strange dynamic: veterans helping rookies. We saw it last year where Brian Westbrook helped LeSean McCoy. But in reality, if you're a veteran helping along a rookie, you're pretty much assisting a direct competitor for your roster spot. Must be tough for some guys to deal with.

* These practices are non-contact in shorts and no pads. You can tell by some of the players' body language, particularly on defense, that they'd prefer to hit someone.

* A couple notes on the draft picks: Fifth-round pick Ricky Sapp towers over the team's other linebackers. Seventh-round pick Jamar Chaney lined up at the WILL LB position.

* Other than Harris and Mays, some other veterans in attendance: Moise Fokou, Max Jean-Gilles, Quintin Demps and Antonio Dixon. Jean-Gilles was back practicing for the first time since lap-band surgery. He said he's lost 30-35 pounds, but still wants to lose about 20 more. He said he doesn't get as hungry and is still living off a lot of soup. He's a Campbell's man, in case you're interested.

Alex Hall, who the team acquired in the Chris Gocong/Sheldon Brown trade, participated with the defensive linemen during individual drills.

I did a video report from Novacare also.


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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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