Trusting in the Eagles' good hands

Jason Avant is a member of the Eagles' 'hands team'. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Most starters spent more time getting dressed and walking to the practice field than they did on the field as Friday's morning walk-through quickly morphed in a morning off for everyone not involved with special teams. Twenty minutes into practice, Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April dismissed anyone he didn't need to work with on kickoff or punt coverage.

With that, April lined up his "Hands Team," a group he hopes won't allow a play that helped set up the new Miracle at the New Meadowlands two seasons ago.

That's when the Eagles trailed the New York Giants, 31-17, with 7 minutes and 28 seconds left in a pivotal late-season game in 2010. Andy Reid threw a curve and had David Akers onside kick the ball. Riley Cooper recovered, the Eagles scored, and then scored again on the game's final play as DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards. The win clinched the NFC East title, but was their last win of the season.

Two big special teams plays turned the game, but they were the exact type of plays April worked Friday morning defending against for 20 minutes.

The Eagles' "Hands Team" on the field consisted of Jamar Chaney, Casey Matthews, Jason Avant, Stanley Havili, Kurt Coleman, Brian Rolle, and Akeem Jordan on the front line with Jeremy Maclin, Clay Harbor, and Nate Allen close behind, and Dion Lewis deep.

"Coach wants you to get the ball by any means necessary," said Harbor. "Get the ball and get down."

April also stressed the importance of technique. "Go up and get it at the highest point possible," Harbor said. "And then just get down because at that point of the game, we should win."

Heating up

Was Andy Reid reading the roster after practice? Nope, he was just updating the status of 14 players, including nine possible starters, who were injured, sick, or had either left practice early Thursday. Zach Berman gives a rundown. But it was clear Reid doesn't have plans to make it any easier for the team today, in what he called "the dog days" as the temperature continues in the 90s and the humidity hangs in the air.

"Today will be pretty aggressive," Reid said. "We have a game coming up [August 9th against Pittsburgh] so we're giving the players a chance to really play on the field."