After the first full practice in pads at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday, Cary Williams was asked if he was surprised that there were two fights, and he wasn't involved involved in either of them. "Oh mine is coming," replied Williams. Welp... On the third day of practice in pads, Williams tried his damnedest to mix it up.
On one play early in practice, undrafted rookie free agent Kadron Boone caught a pass near the sideline, when he casually tried to step out of bounds. Williams came barreling in and de-cleated him. "I just wanted to send a message early," said Williams, "so that people know we're going to be out here and stay physical, be aggressive, and just play football. It's part of the game. We have pads on. I didn't hurt him. You have to expect that if a guy has a great angle on you in a game, that's what's going to happen."
"Welcome to the NFL," said Boone.
Then later, Williams was playing press coverage on Jeff Maehl, I suppose, if press coverage is grabbing a guy, throwing him to the ground, and delivering hybrid pushes/punches to a guy laying in the dirt.
"Once the pads come on, that's when you start to see levels elevated," said CB Nolan Carroll. "Before, in OTAs, (the receivers) were just running around and we couldn't touch them. Now we can get our hands on them."
There has been a very notable difference in the way the defense has played since the pads came on. It has gotten much more chippy, and the results have shown in the form of pass breakups, interceptions, and receivers being neutralized at the line of scrimmage in press coverage.
Last year Williams missed voluntary practice to shop for sconces, but when he's in attendance, he's as aggressive a competitor as anyone on the team. Last year after a preseason loss to the Patriots, Williams said the Eagles' defense lacked an edge. This year, Williams is being extremely aggressive in practice, and the Eagles defense as a whole has most definitely shown an edge.
So keep mixing it up, Cary. Eagles fans haven't seen a truly "tough" defense in years. Just don't do to LeSean McCoy what you did to Kadron Boone today.
• I noted yesterday that Nick Foles is trying to master the back shoulder throw. A few of you asked what a back shoulder throw is. Basically, it's this:
The QB throws to the back shoulder of the receiver, where it's nearly impossible for the defensive back to make a play on the ball. While the back shoulder throw is extremely difficult to defend, it's also very difficult to execute. It requires the QB and WR to be on the same page in terms of timing and ball placement, and requires a lot of repetition before you can really get it down pat. Nick Foles cited the best QBs in the game (Rodgers, Manning, Brees, and Brady) as guys who have mastered that throw, and he is trying to do the same.
• Nolan Carroll had a kagillion (estimated) pass breakups today. He continues to be really good.
• Two more interceptions today: Brandon Boykin had a nice diving pick of GJ Kinne on a crosser. That was Kinne's first pick of camp. DeMeco Ryans also picked off Nick Foles. Kinne and Foles also each hit the flyswatters today. Remember the flyswatter guys who stand there as faux defensive linemen during seven-on-seven drills?
They've sort of become afterthoughts.
• Ifeanyi Momah had a nice play in which he used his 6'7 height to catch a pass over 5'9 CB Brandon Boykin. Those are plays Momah should make, but was not making in training camp last year.
• One receiver who I have not yet mentioned at length is Brad Smith, who has turned in a very good camp so far. Another receiver who has not flashed in camp is Arrelious Benn, who has had several drops and constantly pushes off defenders coming out of his breaks.
• They have free Rita's Water Ice at every practice. Of the flavors I've tried, I'd rank them like this: Green apple, mango, cherry. Cary Williams ranked them mango, cherry, and custard (not sure they even have custard, but whatever). He's also excited to try green apple. I'm suddenly realizing this has been one of the most un-newsworthy training camps in the history of the Eagles.
• Both kickers had OK days. Early on, Alex Henery and Murderleg started strong, each hitting from 45, 50, and 52. Later, Henery doinked one off the crossbar and over from about 50, and on the last day of practice, Murderleg doinked off the left upright from about 46 yards out, and was no good. I guess Chip isn't superstitious. No way I'd end a practice on a missed FG.
• Two funny observations at the conclusion of practice:
Who won the day?
July 26: Mark Sanchez
July 27: Eagles running backs
July 28: Jordan Matthews
July 30: Malcolm Jenkins
July 31: Cary Williams
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski