Monday Practice Notes

Posted: July 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 18 Comments »

Here we go…

* I paid more attention to Mike Kafka today.  I was fairly impressed.  The first question most people have is arm strength.  I saw several throws from Kafka that stood out.  He threw a deep ball to Damaris Johnson that fell incomplete, but was a good throw.  He later hit Jamel Hamler down the right sideline for a good gain.  That was another good throw.  Kafka connected with Brett Brackett down the seam for a good gain.  That didn’t have as must distance as the other throws, but was crisp and had good velocity.  Kafka is never going to be confused with Brett Favre, but I thought his arm looked fine today.

Kafka had a long scramble in one drill.  He got out into the open and no one was able to chase him down.  People forget that he was a solid athlete coming out of Northwestern.  He’s no Vick, but is better than most give him credit for.

There was a sequence when Kafka and the #2 offense faced the #2 defense.  Kafka had no time to throw.  He wasn’t just pressured, though. The DL actually hit and sacked him a couple of times.  Fletcher Cox and Phillip Hunt were the primary culprits, but Vinny Curry also got in on the action.  You never want the QB hit in TC.  It isn’t worth risking injuries.  If there is benefit to today’s pressure, it will help Kafka when he gets to the preseason.  He’s already dealt with live fire, so to speak.

* Brandon Graham was the #1 LDE for most of the day and had another strong performance.  He repeatedly gave RT Dennis Kelly fits.  This happened in 1-on-1 drills as well as team sessions.  Graham was fast off the ball and stayed low.  Graham also got the better of Todd Herremans a couple of times.  Impressive.  The 2011 Brandon Graham is a distant memory.  I don’t know how good he will be this season, but he should be a solid part of the DL rotation at the least.

* CB Cliff Harris seems to want to make the team.  He was terrific last week in the non-contact stuff and that has carried over to this week.  There were 2 primary concerns I had with him.  First, did he have the speed to run with guys like DeSean Jackson?  Next, could he be a solid tackler and run defender?

Today Cliff ran right with DJax on a deep route down the sideline.  I was very impressed.  I wouldn’t want this matchup very much in a real game, but Cliff is one of those guys who plays faster than he times.  He was good in coverage in the 11-on-11 sessions.  He is talented and also has a good feel for how to cover.

I don’t know about Cliff as a tackler and run defender, but his cover skills are impressive.  Good start for the young man.

* Yesterday I ripped on Antonio Dixon pretty hard.  I tried to watch him closely in multiple periods today.  I think he had a better day of practice.  He’s still big, but looked much better in his stance.  He played with better pad level, which is crucial for a guy like him.  His best play came in a 1-on-1 drill when he overwhelmed Dallas Reynolds and easily drove him backward.

I still have concerns with Dixon.  There was a play vs the starters when Evan Mathis just moved him aside with ease on a screen pass.  I love Evan to death, but that shouldn’t happen.  Dixon did have cramps on Saturday so maybe that has affected him more than I realize, but I doubt it.  As he practices each day, Dixon will shed more weight and get into better shape.  It will be interesting to see where he is by Wednesday of next week.  I certainly hope he looks a whole lot better.

* I mentioned Brett Brackett earlier.  He had another good day as a pass catcher.  Clay Harbor looked good as well.  Glad to see both young guys stepping up in Brent Celek’s absence.  Brackett was interviewed by Dave Spadaro after practice.  Go check it out.  Real sharp guy and the kind of young player you sure hope is able to make it.  Still no feel for him as a blocker.

* Another good day for Dion Lewis.  He’s especially impressive when he gets the ball in space.

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One note on the podcasts…the volume was off because of a microphone snafu.  It will be fixed for future episodes and the levels should be more even.  Apologies.

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The new MAQB column is posted.  NFL Gimpy has some good thoughts on the AFC North.   Find out how Steelers WR Antonio Brown had a historic season in 2011.  Caught me off guard.

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Don Banks of has up a TC report on the Eagles.  Nothing great, but worth checking out.


18 Comments on “Monday Practice Notes”

  1. 1 Chris said at 8:33 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Hey Tommy,

    With everyone doing a great job analyzing training camp for those unable to attend I thought I’d start a topic looking at just how many players the Eagles have starting for them that were original draft picks or picked up as undrafted free agents/practice squad before playing in the league.

    When looking at just starters on Offense for the season, it should be 8/11 players regardless of if the 11th player is the fb,wr3, or te2. (Kelce, Watkins, Herremans, Shady, Djax, Maclin, Celek, and any combo of havili, harbor, or Avant.

    On defense, we aren’t quite as successful but still have 6/11 players starting. (Cole, Patterson, Kendricks, Rolle, Allen, Coleman.)

    This to me shows just how successful we have been in drafting solid players and if you look even further at a very early projection of the final 53, we could potentially have 40/53 players as original draft picks, undrafted FA’s, or practice squad acquisitions before any season play.

    What are your thoughts on this? And as always thanks for all your articles and analysis each day.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 10:41 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Interesting numbers.

    The Eagles are far from perfect when it comes to drafting, but if you listen to some critics you would think the FO is totally incompetent. Far from the case. Biggest problem has been the lack of homegrown defensive stars. Mychal Kendricks could change that this year. Hope Nate Allen, Fletch, and Curry also change that as well.

  3. 3 Adrian Ahufinger said at 8:42 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Do you see the Eagles keeping 6 CB (Aso, DRC, Hanson, Boykin, Marsh, Harris)? If not, as of right now, who do you think shouldn’t make the team?

  4. 4 TommyLawlor said at 10:37 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Way too early. Gotta see PS games. Harris is off to a great start. Marsh and Hughes are up and down. Hanson is fighting his butt off. Harris and Boykin have the advantage of being RS’s. Hughes is proven STer. Marsh is the highest pick. You can argue for any of them.

    Possible to keep 6 CBs, if the backup Safeties fail to stand out. Could go with 10 DBs.

  5. 5 Adrian Ahufinger said at 6:51 AM on July 31st, 2012:

    Thanks Tommy. I like Hughes more than Marsh but like you said, he was a 3rd rd. Marsh needs to start showing things because of the great competition there.

  6. 6 Jose A. Contreras said at 8:44 PM on July 30th, 2012:


    I noticed D. Bell wearing a brace on his right knee. Any info on why? Precaution or nursing past injury?

    Thanks for the great job you do around here.

    Peruvian Eagles Fan (going to Dawk’s retirement ceremony!)

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 10:34 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Not sure on that. A lot of OL do it as precaution. Some teams make their guys do it.

  8. 8 izzylangfan said at 8:51 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Kempski suggested in his practice notes that Ryans looked slow. This echoes another comment from an earlier practice although I don’t remember the author of the that one. What do you think?

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 10:34 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    As far as I know, Jimmy was simply talking about the play where Ryans was chasing Kafka.

    I’ve not been able to get a good feel for Ryans. He’s in the middle of the defense and the camera focuses on the QB/ball.

  10. 10 laeagle said at 9:00 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Tommy, wanted to see if you saw what I’m seeing with Kafka. On the first day they were showing the vids on the PE site, there was a decent amount of Kafkaesque footage. What I saw kind of bugged me. On just about every throw, I saw him kick up with his back foot on the follow through. I may be mistaken, but that doesn’t sound like good form to me. As I understand it, part of QB footwork is getting both feet planted as part of the throw, so that your leg and core strength can contribute to the throwing motion. In fact, this was what a lot of people were saying about how Kafka was getting his velocity up.

    That seems to be sabotaged, though, by kicking that back foot up at the last minute. Seems like you’re just giving away some of that power. Am I crazy? Am I seeing things? Let me know what you think.

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 10:33 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    I have no problem with a QB’s back foot coming off the ground. That’s how pitchers pitch. You plant with the front foot and drive with the back one. Mine comes off the ground when I throw. Normal as far as I know.

  12. 12 eeeglz said at 10:34 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    Nice, but it looks like it was Harbor who was interviewed by Spadaro. He is a beast.

  13. 13 TommyLawlor said at 10:46 PM on July 30th, 2012: doesn’t have it archived yet, but it was Brackett that I saw. Talked about playing WR at Penn State. Came off as a really good guy. Said lots of good things about Celek and Harbor helping him.

  14. 14 ICDogg said at 11:32 PM on July 30th, 2012:

    yep, I saw that too

  15. 15 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 7:58 AM on July 31st, 2012:

    I’ve not been much on the discussion board during the summer, but I’ve read EVERYTHING!

    I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate the podcasts that you and JimmyK is making. Needless to say I love your blog Tommy, but unfortunately it only gives me 5-10 minutes of pure Eagles-joy per day. With these podcasts I can know spend an entire hour listening to discussions about the thing I love the most: Eagles/NFL… Thank you!

  16. 16 fran35 said at 11:16 AM on July 31st, 2012:

    Hey Tommy,
    Don Banks relates that Bryce Brown is currently the number two RB ahead of Dion Lewis, which seems way off from every other report I have heard. Dion seems to be firmly number two thus far, right?

  17. 17 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 11:47 AM on July 31st, 2012:

    Could it be a blessing in disguise that Babin got hurt? Graham needs all the reps he can get, and playing with the 1st team O in the preseason should only help the team…

  18. 18 T_S_O_P said at 11:57 AM on July 31st, 2012:

    I don’t know about Cliff as a tackler and run defender, but his cover skills are impressive. Good start for the young man.

    As a rookie, you would hope he wouldn’t see too much action outside of STs and in the sub-packages where the emboldened would surely be more of a positive.