Observations and notes from the second day of Eagles minicamp:
-- It appeared as if Bill Davis' defense had the better day during 7-on-7 and team drills, but Eagles receivers had some fine moments, too, as I zeroed on the collection of ball catchers Wednesday. Nelson Agholor hasn't disappointed thus far. The rookie dropped an early pass from Tim Tebow (more on this later), but he bounced back. Agholor caught a pass from Mark Sanchez in the back of the end zone during 7 on 7s, he pulled in a Tebow toss in traffic in the end zone and beat rookie cornerback Eric Rowe on a stop-and-go route in which he ran under a Matt Barkley floater in the corner of the end zone.
Jordan Matthews did his usual strong work inside. He's had snaps outside this spring, but most of the second-year receiver's repetitions have come in the slot. Riley Cooper had probably his best showing during the open practices. He made a leaping grab on a Sanchez pass near the sideline and then appeared to drag his feet inbounds on a Sam Bradford throw.
Josh Huff bobbled and dropped a pass from Sanchez in the early going. The second-year receiver struggled with some routine plays last year and will have to eliminate those mistakes if he's to play more often. Huff did rebound and pulled in a crosser on the move for about a 20-yard gain.
-- Speaking of receivers, or in this case a receiver disguised as a tight end, Zach Ertz has consistently brought it to every practice I've attended this spring. He made several impressive catches on Wednesday (yes, against defenders that can't tackle or do much of anything), but Ertz is destined (again) for a breakout season. Will it finally happen? He skied above two defenders for a ball from Sanchez and not long after caught another in a tight spot and emerged with the reception.
Another tight end was in on the action earlier when Bradford flicked a strike in the corner of the end zone. I couldn't see who the player was at first, saw the No. 87 and actually had to think for a second to remember who wore that number. Oh, just Brent Celek, the longest-tenured Eagle aside from long snapper Jon Dorenbos. It's not that Celek hasn't performed well this spring, it's just that I had forgotten for a moment that one of the old guard from the late Andy Reid era was still on the roster.
-- The quarterback rotation remained essentially the same as it's been over the last few weeks. Bradford and Sanchez split snaps with the first team during 7 on 7s and Sanchez took all the team reps. Bradford was sharp but still moves gingerly. He said on Tuesday that if he isn't 100 percent ready by the start of training camp something has gone terribly wrong. He has a little over six weeks to get there.
Poor Tebow. I think he's had the most dropped passes. He's struggled more than the other quarterbacks, but he hasn't gotten help from his third team receivers, unless Agholor has been out there. I counted three drops alone on Wednesday. During one red zone set of plays, Tebow had difficulty finding anyone open (or perhaps trusting himself to fit the ball into a tight circle). He held the ball, held, held, and held, before either dumping down to a receiver that eventually got open against no pass rush or throwing the ball out of the back of the end zone.
-- The Eagles unveiled a new drill for the quarterbacks, or it was at least the first time I had seen it. A giant net about 12 feet high and 20 feet long was situated about 30 yards downfield from where the quarterbacks threw. A receiver was on the other side of the netting about ten yards back. The objective was to throw over the net and hit the receiver. It sounds easy and the quarterbacks made it look so, but the ball had to be thrown with a certain arc and pace to clear the height and find the receiver. Bradford hit the top toward the end of the drill and Sanchez grabbed him jokingly, as if to say, "We almost went the entire drill without hitting the pole." Or maybe it was, "See, I'm better than you and therefore deserve to start, injury or no injury."
-- Aside from Agholor, cornerback JaCorey Shepherd may be the rookie that has stood out the most at this early stage. The sixth round draft pick has been taking most of his reps with the third team defense, but has continually made plays. Shepherd batted a Barkley pass to Kenjon Barner away and later knocked a Tebow jump ball to receiver Seyi Ajirotutu to the ground.