BETHLEHEM, PA -- Alex Henery had another day of mixed results here at Lehigh.
The rookie kicker, the only kicker in training camp, hit from 30, 32, 37, 42, and 45 and later from 50. He missed from 44. (note: this is corrected from earlier, which when we mistakenly wrote that he made his first 44 yard attempt) (The 50-yarder was tight – reporters on the sideline thought it may have missed, but our angle isn’t great; Henery said in snuck in and looked off only because the upright is crooked). He later made a 44-yard field goal, but twice missed badly from 53. Once way right and once way left.
Normally misses from 53 might not be reason to really fret, but today's dispaly came after Henery had a very shaky day Saturday.
Henery said he felt good about his kicks overall, and noted that he was kicking on some soggy, muddy ground – the field here is soaked after a couple days of rain.
“I was hitting the ball probably the best I’ve hit it out here today, before that last little session,” Henery said.
Special teams coach Bobby April said Henery is improving at striking the ball, but that his plant foot has been off by a few degrees.
“Certainly he’s got to put those kicks through the uprights,” April said. “He’s got to perform. He’s missed a few, and I think he’ll come around.”
Andy Reid said earlier this week he wants to see more consistency from Henery.
Asked why the team went with a rookie kicker and no veteran competition, April said it was because the team wanted to maximize the reps for their new kicking combination – Henery and fellow rookie punter/holder Chas Henry.
Unable to reach an agreement with David Akers, the team let him walk to San Francisco and has chosen to put a lot of faith in Henery.
”There was a lot of things that went into this. There’s a business side of things that the organization would have to speak for, but there’s always that side of it too,” April said. “We got the two best guys coming out of college and maybe the two best guys for a long time coming out of college. But I think for any rookie through there’s an adjustment period.”
Henery will again be watched closely in the team’s preseason game at Pittsburgh.
We’ll have more on the kicker tomorrow.
Here’s what we saw in Monday’s morning practice:
-- Michael Vick got the ball out fast during a blitz drill, finding DeSean Jackson twice and Riley Cooper once before the rush could reach him. Cooper dropped his ball, but Vick’s performance is an encouraging sign of improvement on one of his biggest weaknesses from last year.
-- The offense found a way to take advantage of the rotating cornerback roles. On one play Nnamdi Asomugha lined up in front of Jackson, but blitzed. Jackson came free for a quick reception when the safeties couldn’t reach him in time. Later the second team D had confusion in the secondary, allowing Chad Hall to run free for a reception and big gain.
-- Kurt Coleman isn’t the most athletic guy on the team, but he is heady and smart and finds his way to the ball. He gave Ronnie Brown a pop on a swing pass after reading the play perfectly. Brown stared him down. Later Coleman rushed in front of a Vick throw to Jason Avant to break up a pass. Nice anticipation.
-- Dion Lewis tried to block Darryl Tapp – it didn’t end well. Tapp drove the back, generously listed as 5-foot-8, back back back toward Vince Young. On a run later Lewis juked cornerback Brandon Hughes out of his jock. Lewis and Vince Young also botched two hand offs. The two haven’t worked much together – usually Brown is with the second team, but everyone moved up a slot because LeSean McCoy got the day off. Young is significantly taller than Lewis, which may have contributed to the mix ups. But coaches were steamed.
-- Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett was credited with a “sack” on Vince Young after blitzing from the blind side. He may have had another sack – or at least a pressure – on another play if real hitting was allowed. Instead Young was able to loft a nice deep pass to Rod Harper, who beat Curtis Marsh.
-- Young had another day where he didn’t seem to know where to go with the ball.
-- Defensive tackle Derek Landri is making a real push for a roster spot. He blew up a run play to Graig Cooper today, burying him in the backfield. Landri also looked good against the Ravens while Trevor Laws has been idled with an injury. Landri, it should be noted, has mostly faced second and third team blockers.
-- Johnnie Lee Higgins caught a swing from Mike Kafka and made a few nice moves in space for a big gain. Higgins has not done a lot as a receiver in camp, and hasn’t had much opportunity to return kicks either, because of the new kick off rule. The rule might hurt him, along with guys like Colt Anderson and Eldra Buckley, who in the past made their way onto the roster with kick coverage.
-- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who told us he doesn’t like the DRC nickname) ran right with Jackson on a double move. Vick ended up throwing over the middle to Avant, but Nate Allen was there for a pass break up.
-- Avant had another highlight, making a twisting leaping grab over Casey Matthews.
-- The Eagles invited military personnel out to watch camp and brought them onto the field after practice ended. Fans applauded while players chanted “USA! USA!” It was a nice scene, as it is every year when they hold the event.
-- To the delight of fans, Cooper caught a perfectly-tossed pass from Vick on a fade pattern into the corner of the end zone during one-on-one drills. The wide receiver out-jumped rookie cornerback Marsh.
-- Vick and Jackson have been in tune. On one play during team drills, the quarterback hit the receiver over the middle and Jackson, after making one cut, spun 360-degrees on the wet grass with flair.
-- During passing drills, Jackson ran a route underneath and Asomugha had trouble keeping up. So the cornerback brielfy grabbed Jackson's jersey. Jackson mimicked a referee tossing a flag after the hold.
-- Fullback Owen Schmitt hasn't much to do at camp, but he took a handoff from Vick during team drills and busted a long run up the middle. After the play Reid walked up to the defense and said, "Where was the linebacker?"
-- With Ryan Harris still out with back spasms, King Dunlap has gotten most of the first team repetitions at right tackle. He looked strong during one team period, basically manhandling defensive end Jason Babin. After the series of plays, defensive end coach Jim Washburn called Babin over to the sideline with a colorful choice of words.