Tuesday was one of the more entertaining practices we've seen so far this camp. The Eagles will have a walk-through on Wednesday, but Tuesday was the last full practice before they play their first preseason game against the Bears Friday night in Chicago. As a result, competition was at a higher level.
There aren't many players who compete harder than Brandon Boykin. During 11-on-11's, Boykin won a contested battle with Josh Huff in the back corner of the end zone for an interception. Boykin's helmet was ripped off on the play, and he emphatically chucked the ball in a fired-up celebration.
Boykin has consistently made plays throughout camp, but one thing that's been very noticeable recently with is the violent way he attacks receivers' arms when he's trying to break up passes. Most corners will try to get a hand on the ball and that's it. Boykin swings his arms down like hammers, so that even if he misses the ball, he can still punish the receivers' arms, making it more difficult for them to make the catch.
Boykin noted after practice that he's no longer interested in interceptions. His main focus this year will be to rip receivers' arms right off their bodies.
OK, he didn't really say that. "That's what we're taught," said Boykin. "Whatever necessary to get the ball out. A lot of times when (receivers) are at the point of catching the ball, and you give them a physical blow, a forearm or a hand, their hand is going to come away from the ball, so that's what causes the pass breakup. So that's why you see us punching and stripping, and things like that at the end of the play."
You don't just see Boykin throwing down the hammer to break up passes. Last year against the Chargers, he caught Antonio Gates from behind near the goal line, and tried to punch the ball out. Boykin missed the ball completely, but because he had punched Gates' arm with such force, Gates dropped the ball anyway, saving seven points.
On Tuesday Boykin saw a lot of some guy named Jordan Matthews. It was the first time during camp that Matthews faced Boykin extensively, and the matchup against Boykin was something Matthews requested. Matthews did not dominate like he's been doing in practices since June. Matthews won some, and Boykin won some, and the competition between those two was very fun to watch. But it was clear that the competition level that Matthews saw from Boykin Tuesday was nothing like what he saw from the two's and three's during the rest of camp.
• Matthews didn't just see Boykin Tuesday. There was one play in which Cary Williams had Matthews blanketed 30 yards down the field, which didn't stop Matthews from calling for the ball. Williams was chirping in Matthews' ear after the play. "We were just talking trash, man," said Williams. "I said 'So you gonna call for the ball when I'm on your back?'"
That's not the first time Matthews has called for the ball when he has been covered. Earlier in camp, Matthews sat down in the zone, and was furiously clapping his hands for the ball, despite two defenders on each side of him.
On the one hand, I suppose there's an argument to be made that it's good thing that Matthews has the confidence in himself to make plays even if he's covered. On the other hand, when you're a QB trying to read a defense, avoid a pass rush and make good decisions, you don't need your rookie WR screaming for the ball when he's covered.
• As noted in previous practice recaps, Josh Huff will have a better opportunity to show off his strengths when he's able to get the ball in his hands and break tackles. However, he has not impressed so far. Tuesday, as mentioned above, he lost a contested battle with Boykin in the end zone that resulted in a pick. He also had a quick slant go through his hands and off his helmet, in addition to another bad drop later in practice.
• Curtis Marsh had a great day. He had four pass breakups that I counted, which is excellent. With Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Boykin, Nolan Carroll, and Jaylen Watkins are locks to make the team, Marsh likely isn't going to find his way onto the 53-man roster, but he has had a really good camp.
• Mark Sanchez was up and down Tuesday, but he did have a highlight throw. During a session in practice in which the defense is supposed to be in somewhat of a 'prevent' mode in which they're willing to give up short passes underneath, but keeping everything in front of them, Sanchez connected with Damaris Johnson on a gorgeous deep ball for a TD. Credit Sanchez for making a big time throw against a defense specifically designed to stop deep passes. You can also probably give the second team defense a healthy amount of blame on that one.
• Nick Foles looked really sharp Tuesday. He threw a TD pass into a tight window in the end zone to Zach Ertz, and he delivered a perfect back shoulder ball for a TD to Brad Smith.
Foles has also been good with his play fakes. There have been several times throughout camp in which my eyes followed the running back, when Foles still had the ball. I can't remember being fooled in camp last year, although to be fair, I am a year older..
• Donnie Jones was picked off by Malcolm Jenkins Tuesday on a fake FG. Jones' passing stats so far this camp:
0 for 1, 0 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 0.0 QB rating. Turn in your pimp apparel, Donnie.
Who won the day?
July 26: Mark Sanchez
July 27: Eagles running backs
July 28: Jordan Matthews
July 30: Malcolm Jenkins
July 31: Cary Williams
August 1: Nolan Carroll
August 3: Jordan Matthews
August 4: LeSean McCoy
August 5: Brandon Boykin
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