After a morning practice marked by incomplete passes and two Kevin Kolb interceptions, coach Andy Reid said the team's offense needs to improve.
"From the offensive standpoint, we've got to do a better job," Reid said after the morning session. "We're going to keep doing that, keep getting better as we go."
He had just come from a practice where defenders were frequently barging into the backfield and the passing game was so disrupted that at one point a fan shouted out "let's see a completion!"
The practice follows a recent trend that has seen the defense outplaying the offense. Kolb had looked sharp early in camp, but in recent days has had trouble connecting with receivers. Today Quintin Mikell and Dimitri Patterson each picked off Kolb in the morning, and the defense also got the better of several red zone drills.
"The positive, I think, is the defense is playing well," Reid said. "That's a positive. Everyone on the offensive side, we need to get better. We continue to push through this and normally what you see is offenses come together a little bit later than defenses, if you do have a good defense."
It's the middle of a long camp, and the offense seems to be in a bit of a lull.
It was supposed to be the other way around. The offense, with weapons like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy, was supposed to be more of a sure thing, even with a new starter at quarterback. The rebuilt defense, meanwhile, entered training camp with many new faces, some of them very young.
Instead, the offense has struggled behind a juggled offensive line missing two starters, Jamaal Jackson and Todd Herremans.
"You can't have the interceptions, you can't have the sacks, the quarterback's running around way too much with the pressure he's getting right there, so we've got to take care of that," Reid said. "When they're running the football they're getting big yards there, so we've just go to get the throwing part of it down."
The defense, meanwhile, has seemed to come together quickly, with help from Ernie Sims' aggressiveness, Stewart Bradley's return, Nate Allen's quick learning at safety and a boosted pass rush from Brandon Graham and the seemingly rejuvenated Trevor Laws.
Kevin Kolb downplayed any struggles, acknowledging that the Eagles' Flight Night practice was a disappointment, but saying he felt sharp at the start of the morning. He said the offense is getting more complex, with more plays added at this point in camp, and that the defense has become familiar with what the offense is doing.
"Besides some mental errors on some guys parts" -- including himself, Kolb said - "I think we had a pretty good practice ... Now, we've got to keep getting better and working these different situations that are coming our way.
Reid is looking forward to the upcoming pre-season game against Jacksonville, where he can better measure whether his team's recent practice play is more a reflection of a strong defense, or a sputtering offense.
-- Mike McGlynn worked with the first team at center for most of practice. Nick Cole started the practice, but left with knee soreness, Reid said. He said Cole is still the team's number one center, in place of Jamaal Jackson.
-- A.Q. Shipley (ankle) and Mike Bell (hamstring) also participated in the early part of practice before working out on the sideline. Jeremy Maclin (bone bruise), Antonio Dixon (concussion), J.J. Arrington (foot strain) and Macho Harris (hamstring) all sat out. Ricky Sapp left practice with swelling in his knee. Asante Samuel is still out as well.
The offense had some highlights.
LeSean McCoy lined up in the shotgun for a few plays, with Kevin Kolb split out at wide receiver, perhaps finding another way to get the ball into "Shady's" hands. McCoy was also too agile for the linebackers during one-on-one passing and receiving drills.
-- Also in that drill, which matched running backs and tight ends against safeties and linebackers: Clay Harbor beat Moise Fokou deep, but was out-physicaled on a short route by Akeem Jordan. Leonard Weaver was getting open at will, and Brent Celek twisted up Quintin Mikell for a long reception.
-- Kolb did hit Jason Avant for a red zone touchdown in seven-on-seven drills.
-- Cornelius Ingram got a lot of work blocking in two tight end sets, going up against defense ends on some plays, with mixed results.
-- Reid praised his corner backs. Ellis Hobbs, Patterson and Joselio Hanson have taken many of the snaps as the team has frequently worked on its nickel package in recent practices. "We've got some corners now that are showing up, and we need that," he said. A tweak to Samuel, perhaps?
-- Michael Vick continues to feel love from fans. A group cheered him off the field as he walked back from an autograph signing session. He pumped his fist in a circle as they clapped and called his name.