Tuesday kicked off a three day Eagles minicamp at the NovaCare Complex, with all practices open to the media. This three day camp will be the last action that Eagles players will have until training camp begins at the end of July. My notes from Tuesday's practice:
• Here are my official "Eagles QB power rankings" through OTAs and the first day of minicamp, in water gun carnival game form:
In all seriousness, it's really not even close between Foles and the rest of the bunch. Foles has looked especially good throwing on the run, which in my opinion was already a strength of his last season.
• Mark Sanchez had an up and down day... again. He had two consecutive series in which he looked very sharp, but he continues to make occasional head-scratching throws. On one play, he threw the ball directly to Earl Wolff. It was almost as if he thought Earl was on offense. Or maybe Earl tricked Sanchez into throwing the ball his way.
In a previous notes post, I tried to put Sanchez's struggles into perspective:
The overwhelming feeling here among the media is that Mark Sanchez has looked bad so far, and I don't disagree. However, he has also occasionally looked pretty good. For example, on Monday, he completed a really sharp out route in traffic. He also hit a nice seam route into a tight window. Those are the plays where you can see why the Eagles brought him in.
And then there are moments where his passes are nowhere near anyone. Sometimes he's clearly throwing the ball away toward the sidelines, which is fine, and then there are other times he's throwing to empty spaces in the middle of the field, where it's difficult to figure out what he's trying to do. When you see passes that don't make any sense, more than likely they're miscommunications. Sanchez is still learning the offense. If he continues to make a high number of weird throws in August, it'll be more concerning. But in June, on a new team, his erratic play so far is probably to be expected.
Sanchez's INT to Wolff was so far off target that it had to have been a communication issue. I think. Again, in June, we probably shouldn't make too much of it, but if he continues to make "What the hell was that" throws in the preseason, be very worried about the state of the Eagles' backup QBs.
• Matt Barkley has no such excuse, in terms of learning a new playbook. He threw way behind a receiver on a short crosser that should have been a layup. In the past, I've seen clear progression from QBs going from year one to year two, like with Nick Foles last year, and even with lesser QBs in the past like Mike Kafka. I have not yet seen that progression from Barkley early in this offseason.
• Nolan Carroll has looked really good so far. He has repeatedly broken up passes, and even picked off a few. In OTAs and minicamp, there is no contact allowed, which means there's no press coverage from the secondary. That makes it much easier for the receivers to make plays, and is a big reason why you hear about a standout receiver this time of year every offseason. It is much harder for a corner or safety to stand out in non-contact drills, but Carroll has.
What makes Carroll's play so impressive is that he prefers press coverage. "I've been (playing press) for so long, since I came into the league," said Carroll. "It's just what my coaches had me do, the whole time. There had only been certain situations where I have played off. Here, this is the most I've ever played off in an offseason ever.
"My biggest thing is being physical and pressing, and we haven't been able to do that at all in OTAs. Receivers are getting free releases, so we're kind of reacting off of what they do."
Carroll is excelling play off coverage, which is outside his comfort zone. That is a very good sign. Yesterday, I asked defensive backs coach John Lovett whether or not Carroll had a legitimate chance to win a starting job. Lovett replied, "Yeah. He sure does. He sure does."
Lovett also noted, "I'm thrilled to death we have Nolan Carroll here. Having Nolan Carroll here has added competition, and it has made Cary (Williams) and Bradley (Fletcher) prepare harder, work harder, play better."
• Here's Nolan Carroll talking about the Eagles' pace of practice in comparison to when he played for the Dolphins.
• In the kicker competition, Alex Henery was perfect on FGs today, although he needed a shooter's bounce that doinked off the crossbar and went over on what looked like a 50 yarder. Murderleg missed one wide left. So far, Henery has been better and more consistent on kickoffs, but Murderleg put one through the back of the end zone in the air today.
• Arrelious Benn made a nice leaping catch today. That's the second time I've seen him do that so far this summer. His ACL recovery appears to have gone well.
• A few of you have asked recently in my weekly chats if the Eagles would employ more two-TE sets this season with the loss of DeSean Jackson. Today, they ran some three TE sets with Zach Ertz split out wide.
We'll have more from minicamp practices on Wednesday and Thursday, which are both open to the media.
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