Saturday, December 20, 2014

3 Things To Watch Thursday

It didn't take a football insider to recognize one of the standouts from Wednesday's afternoon practice.

3 Things To Watch Thursday

Eagles coach Andy Reid spent a few minutes chatting with owner Jeff Lurie on Wednesday. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Eagles coach Andy Reid spent a few minutes chatting with owner Jeff Lurie on Wednesday. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Making their moves

It didn't take a football insider to recognize one of the standouts from Wednesday's afternoon practice. Looking at Bryce Brown walking off the field, a soldier getting autographs on Military Day said, "Wow, he was great today."

Brown and fellow rookie running back Chris Polk took charge during an 11-on-11 scrimmage playing for the second-team offense against the first-team defense.

Brown showed his toughness on several inside runs and scored a touchdown. And Polk's hard-nosed runs included one where, legs pumping, he broke through three tackles along the sideline before being forced out.

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"I'm nothing without the offensive line," said Polk, an undrafted free agent from Washington. "But if you give me a little whole, I'm taking it."

Brett Brackett, with another solid effort all day, scored the touchdown on that particular drive on a pass from Mike Kafka, but Brown and Polk carried the load.

"I'm just working on honing in on the details the coaches are teaching," said Brown, a seventh-round pick from Kansas State. "When [LeSean] McCoy or [Dion] Lewis come out, I want the coaches to know there won't be any let up."

Highs and lows

- Does Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie knows it's only training camp? He appears to be in mid-season form, breaking up a Michael Vick pass one play and then intercepting him the next.

- The first-team defense looked like world-beaters in the first 10 plays of 11-on-11s going against Vick and Kafka. There were three "sacks," two big hits by Kurt Coleman and Joselio Hanson, and very little yardage surrendered.

- Dion Lewis and defensive end Phillip Hunt have had better days. Lewis fumbled once and saw a beautifully floated Vick pass along the sideline drop through his hands. And Hunt, in 9-on-7 running-based drills, jumped offside twice on the same play. "Someone get Hunt out of there!" defensive line coach Jim Washburn shouted. He jumped offside again later in 11-on-11s. Not the way to stand out in the absence of Trent Cole and Jason Babin.

- Kicker Alex Henery showed accuracy and leg strength. He made 3 of 4 from 40-45 yards, 2 of 2 from 45-50, and 2 of 3 from 50-55, including a long of 53 yards.

- Rookie cornerback Brandon Boykin is showing he's more than just a kickoff returner. His speed showed as he closed quickly and broke up two short across-the-middle passes.

The extra effort

If you'd like your favorite Eagles to be guys willing to go the extra mile for good causes, you'll have a soft spot for a significant group of players who stayed around long after practice to mingle with members of the Armed Forces on Military Day.

All the players posed for pictures and signed autographs for the 300 members of the military invited onto the field at the end of practice. Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson seemed to draw the biggest crowds. "You can't out-shine Vick and DJ," said wide receiver Mardy Gilyard as he watched.

Those players who stayed long after the others included Jason Avant, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jeremy Maclin, Todd Herremans, Darryl Tapp, O.J. Atogwe, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Casey Matthews, Rodgers-Cromartie, Trent Edwards, Chad Hall, Jon Dorenbos, and Jason Kelce. The last five were still signing even after most of the military had left.

"We're just showing our gratitude," said Avant.

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