Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

UPDATED: Castillo envisions Nnamdi as Woodson

Juan Castillo talked up the idea today of having Nnamdi Asomugha follow in the star-studded footsteps of another former Raiders cornerback: Charles Woodson.

UPDATED: Castillo envisions Nnamdi as Woodson

Nnamdi Asomugha observes Eagles training camp. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Nnamdi Asomugha observes Eagles training camp. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Juan Castillo talked up the idea today of having Nnamdi Asomugha follow in the star-studded footsteps of another former Raiders cornerback: Charles Woodson.

“Nnamdi is a special guy – he wants to make plays. He respects Rod Woodson. I think he’d love that role, being able to blitz, a big tall guy like that coming off the edge, and then all of a sudden press coverage against the slot guy,” Castillo said. (Castillo kept saying “Rod Woodson,” but he was clearly referring to the Packers’ Charles Woodson, since he kept talking about Super Bowl champions).

UPDATE: Some people have asked if it was possible Castillo actually meant Rod Woodson - but referred specifically to the Packers and last season. He meant Charles.

“(Nnamdi) and I rode in the car together to practice yesterday and he was the one that mentioned, that we talked about Rod Woodson that he would be excited about a role like that if it went that way,” Castillo said.

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UPDATE: Asomugha told the Inquirer that with the Raiders he had a package of plays each week that put him in the slot to either blitz or cover.

"Of the 3 of us, someone’s going to be inside when we go on third downs," Asomugha said. "(Castillo) knows I’m a football player and he knows that he’s seen me do it in Oakland."

He added, "I’m willing and able, I’m just here to help out." (END UPDATE)

It’s an intriguing idea – having Asomugha play in the slot. The cliché is true: it is a passing league and teams often put three wide receivers on the field. Having a big corner who can blitz or cover would be an incredible asset. The Eagles play nickel at least as often, if not more, than they play their base defense.

On the other hand, as valuable as a shut-down corner is, would the team really take one of the best in the league off of coverage and have him pass rush? As good as Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are, Asomugha is better. It could be smoke. If the Eagles intend to trade one of their corners, they have to talk up the idea of keeping all three to preserve any leverage.

Woodson (Charles) has excelled in that role in Green Bay. But there’s an important distinction here: he’s no longer the team’s top cover man. Tramon Williams is. Green Bay uses Woodson almost as an extra linebacker. Asomugha is so valuable as a cover man, it seems risky to take him out of that role. (As one Twitter follower wrote me: Roy Halladay could probably close games, but his greatest value is as an ace).

Rodgers-Cromartie, who returned to practice after leaving yesterday with an Achilles injury, said he was OK deferring to Asomugha and Samuel and playing the nickel. They're the "two top dogs," he said.

We’ll know more about the Eagles real plans when we see them line up all three corners once they're all allowed to practice together – which should be Aug. 4.

Allen is back
Nate Allen was on the field Monday morning for his first full-contact drills of training camp. The second-year safety, returning from a torn patellar tendon in December, said he felt good, though he admitted to having a little hesitation when rushing into the offensive line on blitzes.

“It’s in here a little bit,” he said, pointing to his temple. “But I feel good.”

Allen, reserved and quiet by nature, has had to be more of a vocal presence on the field. With Quintin Mikell gone, Allen is the second-most experienced safety on the roster, and the other one, Marlin Jackson, has never played in a game for the Eagles.

Second round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett was on the field with Allen, who said he’s trying to be a leader and help show the younger guys the way.

“I was in there last year, I can relate to him,” Allen said. “His mind’s going a million miles an hour.”

Jarrett was starting at strong safety with Kurt Coleman sidelined with an ankle sprain. During 11-on-11 drills, the rookie was late to react to a screen pass and yelled at himself afterward. Allen ran over to Jarrett, said "It's OK J.J.," and then gave him some advice.

Practice Notes:
-- The defense looks better than the offense so far – particularly along the lines – but that’s something you might expect after a long layoff.

-- Part of that might be due to Howard Mudd constantly tinkering with his offensive line set up, particularly on the right side. Jason Peters, Todd Herremans and Jamaal Jackson have consistently been at left tackle, left guard and center. But right guard and right tackle has been mix-and-match with AQ Shipley, Mike McGlynn and Julian Vandervelde (guard) and King Dunlap and Austin Howard (tackle). Jason Kelce even got some reps at first team center. Mudd is likely trying to get a look at how each performs with the first team O and against the first team D as he sorts out his line up. McGlynn has generally been the starting right guard, though.

-- I can’t wait until the Eagles get their top corners and receivers in here and eligible for practice. At one point we saw Jason Avant and Riley Cooper against Brandon Hughes and Trevard Lindley. Not exactly “get your popcorn” worthy.

-- Mike Kafka threw a nice 25 to 30-yard touchdown to Terrance Turner, dropping the ball in between several defenders. Sorry on the yardage, I didn’t see exactly where the snap came from.

-- Alex Henery was crushing field goals. He hit one from 45-yards out with a LOT of room to spare. Still, let’s see how he’s doing in December at the Linc in a big divisional game before we get too excited.

-- Tuesday the team has a day off, as mandated by the new labor deal. Unusual for an Andy Reid camp.

-- Injuries: Kurt Coleman (ankle), Brent Celek (back spasms) and Dion Lewis (hamstring) sat out the morning practice.

About this blog
Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

Jeff McLane Inquirer Staff Writer
Zach Berman Inquirer Staff Writer
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