The second day of training camp today was soured by a serious injury to an important player. Let's just get right to the recap.
• Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL today. He was taken off in a cart, and was holding a towel over his head. I missed the play where Maclin got hurt, but the buzz was that he made a catch, seemed fine, started walking back to the huddle, and went down. This injury comes at the worst possible time for Maclin, being in the final year of his rookie contract. This will end his season.
• One of Maclin's potential replacements, Riley Cooper, had a good day today. He went up high for two long passes down the sideline. One of them was from Dennis Dixon. After the play, Dixon put both of his hands in the air, pointing at Cooper, and left them there for about 20 seconds until Cooper saw him acknowledging the nice catch.
• Highly thrown passes down the sideline seem to be a theme so far through two days here. Many of them have looked like designed back shoulder throws. Back shoulder throws are very difficult to master, but when teams get good at executing them, they are extremely difficult for a CB to stop. Plus, high passes down the sideline are relatively risk/reward friendly, particularly with bigger targets such as the 6'3 Cooper, and 6'7 Ifeanyi Momah.
• Nick Foles threw two gorgeous deep balls today to DeSean Jackson and Greg Salas. Perfect placement, roughly 50 yards down the field on both. Strong day for Foles.
• Michael Vick is the only QB to have hit the "bug wing" guys that pose as faux defensive linemen trying to bat down passes. Vick hit them several times in OTAs and minicamp. Today, Matt Barkley joined Vick in "Club Bug Wing." Barkley not only hit a bug wing guy, but he also had a pass deflected at the line by Chris McCoy. McCoy, by the way, has looked good so far in pass coverage from his OLB spot.
• In my recap yesterday, I talked at length about Zach Ertz's history of drops in college, and a few that I saw during the first few days of practice during training camp. Today he had another bad one - right in his chest. Brent Celek also had a bad drop. Celek has struggled with drops at times as well. Over the last 2 years, Celek is tied for 6th in the NFL in drops, with 14, per Pro Football Focus:
Celek can be a legitimate weapon, but he needs to improve in that area.
• In previous training camps, I marveled at the elusiveness of LeSean McCoy, and often thought he looked like the best player on the field during camp. He doesn't get talked about as much during camp, perhaps because people are just used to him by now, and because running plays are difficult to evaluate when it's 2-hand touch. I'll just note quickly here that Shady looks like Shady.
• One of the players I thought was a darkhorse to make the team is Emil Igwenagu, who got some NFL game action last season with the Eagles. His rookie season, Igwenagu looked completely uncomfortable running routes, but I thought he looked improved in OTAs in minicamp. The last two days, he has reverted back to his awkward route-running, and he had a few drops.
• Desean Jackson had a fumble today. And remember, these are non-contact practices. He also apparently had two muffed punts that I missed yesterday. After practice, DeSean said he's the #1 punt returner.
• After Chip Kelly assembled his assistant coaching staff months ago, the media had a chance to speak with the new assistant coaches. Special teams coach Dave Fipp talked about the importance of mixing in special teams work throughout the practice:
"On Sunday, the game is played... Offense, special teams, defense, special teams... so I fully intend to incorporate special teams into the practice (throughout the practice). I firmly believe that you need to practice special teams the same way you play it on Sunday, in between your offensive and defensive plays."
That is exactly what Chip Kelly and Dave Fipp have done thus far. In previous training camps, there were times in which special teams were practiced last, when players were hot and tired, and likely not all that interested in practicing special teams. The Eagles' special teams last season were horrid, so it should be encouraging for Eagles fans to know that a lot of time is being expended on fixing them.
• At some point,we'll begin talking more about the offensive and defensive lines, but it's somewhat useless trying to evaluate them without the pads. The first Eagles practice in pads will be tomorrow at Lincoln Financial Field.
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