It was time for the second-team defense to get its turn.
On this day, that meant Nate Allen standing to the side and watching. But there was no time for a breather. He started with Quintin Mikell and Stewart Bradley, asking them questions about the reps he'd just run through. Then it was over to Asante Samuel, who pointed something out as the second-teamers played things out.
Finally, it was time for the third-team nickel. Ten guys ran on to the field, but one was missing. Someone called for Allen, he put on his helmet and ran out there. First team, third team. It didn't matter. Today was about getting reps and continuing to learn the defense.
One minute Allen was getting advice from one of the game's highest-paid corners in Samuel. The next he was lining up next to undrafted free agent Devin Ross. The education continued. Defensive quality control coach Mike Zordich. Defensive backs coach Dick Jauron. And of course defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. All guys who either answered a question for Allen or pointed out what he was doing right or wrong.
By my count, Allen got every single rep with the first-team defense today. Would it surprise me if that changed at some point this week, next week or at Lehigh? No. But after one post-Marlin Jackson practice, he appears to be the front-runner.
Other observations from practice:
* Ellis Hobbs did not participate in 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s. Taking his place at the second cornerback position was Macho Harris. Harris did not see any reps at safety. Looks like he's staying put - for now.
* No Todd Herremans once again. Max Jean-Gilles has gotten run at left guard with the first team, making the Eagles' interior line Stacy Andrews, Nick Cole and Jean-Gilles. Keep in mind that this scenario could also potentially play out if Jason Peters were to go down with an injury and Herremans had to slide over to left tackle.
* Amazing to watch the running backs practice together and realize that 21-year-old LeSean McCoy is the elder statesman. Think about it. No other RB has more experience in the Eagles' system.
* Ricky Sapp and Alex Hall practiced with the defensive line.
* In the beginning of practice, players are divided by position. I was watching the defensive backs. A simple foot-work drill. Jauron and a player would stand about 7 feet apart from each, facing each other. Jauron would point in a direction, and the player would have to slide or backpedal in the direction. For those of you who played hoops, think of defensive drills where you line up and slide in the direction the coach points.
Why am I telling you this? Because it's interesting to watch the level of intensity even in a simple drill like this one. No player can afford to run through a rep slowly or give less than full effort. Many of the guys are fighting for jobs. Others for playing time. And others for Pro Bowl berths. I remember Marty Mornhinweg said at the media chalk talk event last month that players at the NFL level want to be coached and want to improve. I think he's right.
* The second-team safeties were Quintin Demps and new guy Ryan Hamilton.
* Once again, Darryl Tapp and rookie Daniel Te'o-Neshiem saw time rushing inside in the nickel packages.
* After Bradley went left practice (later reported as a tweaked calf), when the Eagles were practicing in the nickel, Akeem Jordan replaced him as the second linebacker, along with Ernie Sims. Yesterday it was Bradley and Sims.