The practices are winding down at Lehigh, as the Eagles will pack up Wednesday and head back to Philadelphia to prepare for Friday night's preseason game against the Bengals.
But the pads were on this morning, and there was a live hitting period. Here are my observations:
* The wide receiver battle is difficult to figure out. Here's what we know: The top four spots are accounted for. Riley Cooper has established himself as the No. 4 guy, with Hank Baskett, Chad Hall and Kelley Washington fighting it out for one or two spots. The coaches are trying Hall out in every possible role, as we saw in the preseason game Friday night. What Hall has going for him is his versatility. He brings something different to the table than the rest of the receivers. I asked Marty Mornhinweg to compare Washington and Baskett, and he said they're in the same mold. In other words, I would be surprised if both those guys made the team. But with the added emphasis on special teams this season, you never know.
* Another big hit from Ernie Sims during a "non-live" portion of practice when players are supposed to hold up. This time, he nailed Brent Celek at the goal line, and the Eagles' tight end was slow to get up. Celek returned after a short break and appears to be OK, but the Eagles' offensive players have clearly had enough of Sims' unwillingness to hold up. Jeremy Maclin, DeSean Jackson, Kevin Kolb and Max Jean-Gilles were the first to walk over to Celek to see if he was OK. After practice, I caught Andy Reid having a lengthy discussion with Sims, but it seemed pretty light-hearted as Sims was laughing at times during the talk. Reid is in a tough spot. He wants an aggressive linebacker with a mean streak, but Sims has crossed the line multiple times in practice. On the bright side, with only a couple more practices yet, at least he hasn't injured anyone.
* Todd Herremans continued to get worked in with the first-team offense. He and Max Jean-Gilles rotated at left guard. Herremans said afterwards that he felt good, and if it were up to him, it'd be nice to get some reps in a preseason game, perhaps against Kansas City.
* Michael Vick continued to get worked in with the first team here and there.
* The Eagles are very thin at running back. LeSean McCoy did not practice with a quad contusion, and Mike Bell is also out. That meant a lot of Eldra Buckley with the first team, which makes things difficult during the blitz drills, since he's not as familiar with where to be as McCoy is. Buckley also had a couple drops. At one point, Hall got a rep at halfback with the ones.
* Rookie linebacker Keenan Clayton is practicing with the second team at the weak side and in the nickel. I thought Clayton had a lot of positives in the preseason game.
* Macho Harris is still practicing at cornerback, despite the team's injuries at safety. Sean McDermott said he likes having the flexibility, but Harris will stick with the corners - for now.
* Good battle between Ellis Hobbs and Jason Avant during one-on-one cornerback vs. wide receiver drills. Hobbs got physical with Avant, forcing an incompletion, but Avant thought he was held. "You're holding me!" Hobbs responded. A fan in the first row said he caught it on film, and Hobbs went over for evidence, telling the guy Avant was trying to club him with his "big, gorilla arm."
* Stewart Bradley dropped a sure interception from Kolb and deflected another pass. It's really going to help the middle of this defense to have him back.
* Jason Peters was called for a false start. He also took a few plays off to the side, but the team did not say he was injured afterwards. Austin Howard took his place at left tackle with the ones.
* Former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach was in attendance once again, decked out in Eagles gear. He's a lot smaller than I thought he'd be in person. I was expecting him to be close to Andy Reid's size.
* Rookie Trevard Lindley really looks like a sound tackler. I've been impressed with that aspect of his game.
* In case you missed it, I posted Man Up on the offense a little earlier today.
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