If you ask Eagles players who has made an impression in these early practices, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's name keeps coming up.
Back on the outside where he starred earlier in his career, Rodgers-Cromartie has looked spectacular in coverage, running with DeSean Jackson in one-on-ones, jamming Jeremy Maclin in seven-on-seven and using breathtaking make-up speed to close down gaps when he gets a step behind.
"He’s in his element," said wide receiver Jason Avant. "If you take a fish and put him on land, it doesn’t work well. He's an outside guy and hes always been fast. He’s so accustomed to being out there he can see the quarterback better."
DRC was back at practice today after missing Monday's voluntary session (the team said rain caused problems with his flight back to Philadelphia).
These practices are perfectly suited to his skills. There is no contact, and really no running plays, so the athletic corner can show off the best of his physical gifts, which include uncanny quickness for a player his height. He doesn't have to tackle, instead focusing on what he does best: shadowing with receivers.
The hitting and tackling will arrive in training camp, where we'll see if he can be a complete defensive back (last year, as Rodgers-Cromartie struggled to play in the slot, he also showed some questionable effort in making stops). But for now, he looks comfortable, and happy and teammates are taking note.
"He’s done a phenomenal job," Maclin said.
What stood out when talking to fellow Eagles, though, is that it's not just Rodgers-Cromartie's natural talent that has helped, but also his ability to read routes.
We'll have more on that from fellow Eagles and Rodgers-Cromartie himself tomorrow in the Inquirer and here on Philly.com.
Tuesday practice notes
-- Nnamdi Asomugha and Casey Matthews were out of practice today. Asomugha was excused for personal reasons the team said (though it's all voluntary anyway). Matthews was here at the Eagles facility. There was no immediate word on why he didn't practice. DeSean Jackson is also away this week to attend to a family matter, according to the team. Maybe the Eagles' LA contingent is preparing to celebrate a Kings Stanley Cup.
-- The Eagles are working on plays they play to use against NFC East opponents this week. Yesterday the scout team lined up as the Redskins. Today it was the Cowboys.
-- The scout work means there are fewer competitive drills. More of the practices instead focus on running through the kind of plays that the team hopes will work against specific opponents. That means fewer highlights to report, such as they are in OTAs.
-- Riley Cooper has had a rough couple days catching the ball. He had drops each of the past two days. After missing a pass today he took a long walk by himself to back of one end zone. Maclin and Avant both went to talk to him. Cooper could be in a battle for his job.
-- Avant said Maclin is emerging as a leader of the wide receivers due to his work ethic.
-- Defensive end Phillip Hunt said he has put on 12 pounds, getting him up to 257, to help his play against the run. Until last year he played in the CFL, where teams pass almost exclusively. He never had to play the run very much, he said.