The big story from Day 1, aside from the QB battle, seems to be the OLBs.
Both Graham and Cole weigh 264 pounds right now. Graham was reportedly up around 275 last year.
Both guys are learning how to play LB. You do need to understand that most of the time a 3-4 OLB is going to be rushing the QB. The key is that you need to be effective when called upon to drop into coverage.
There are other changes in playing LB instead of DE. Those can vary by scheme and coaching staff, just as 4-3 DEs can have different responsibilities. Cole and Graham must learn the subtleties of the position. This isn’t entirely about coverage. The good news is that Bill McGovenr and Bill Davis have coaches some outstanding LBs over the year. Those guys know how to teach.
Let’s go back to coverage for a minute. This may be the first time since high school (or before that) that Cole and Graham are getting instructions on how to cover. Both guys have dropped back some in the past, but that was primarily due to zone blitzes. When they dropped back then, they were DEs. The expectation was for them simply to get to a spot and do their best. Now the players are going to be coached on how to actually cover.
They’ll learn to get to their zone. Once there, they have to identify receivers and patterns. You need to react differently to a WR running a slant than a RB going out to the flat as a checkdown option. The LBs won’t be asked to turn into Troy Vincent and go shut down the targets. The LB needs to keep the ball in front of him. If lucky enough, play the ball. Most likely, sit back and tackle the receiver after he’s caught the short pass.
There will be some situations where the LBs get hung out to dry against a really good player when the offense has the perfect play called. You just have to live with those situations. The whole point in running the 3-4 and using zone blitzes is to try and trick the offense. You just have to know there will be some plays when the trick backfires. You don’t buy stock, expecting to make money on every move. You don’t blitz and expect to win every play.
Cole and Graham need time. I wouldn’t start to judge their progress until the Pats practices. At that point, the guys will be 10 days into camp and will have some idea of what they’re doing.
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Sheil Kapadia posted his practice diary. This is always must-read material.
A couple of interesting nuggets were that ILB Jason Phillips got some snaps with the starters and that the backup DL was Clifton Geathers – Antonio Dixon – Vinny Curry. I don’t want to make too much of the Phillips note. The Eagles love DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. You just wonder if that happened as a way to develop Phillips into the top backup ILB or if it was just a random happening. I do not think the Eagles are trying to send a signal to Ryans or Kendricks.
As for the backup DL, I like it. I’m utterly fascinated by Geathers. I’m hopeful that Dixon can bounce back at NT. I also think RDE, even in the 3-4, is a good spot for Curry.
2:10 – As I walk from one field to another, the great Merrill Reese asks to see my pen for a moment so he can sign a football for a fan. I remember at my first camp several years ago thinking how crazy it was that fans were stopping Ray Didinger for an autograph.
So… does anyone want my signature? Hello?? Anyone out there???
Would someone please go ask Mr. Kapadia for his autograph? I always knew Kapadia had some T.O. to his game. How does Tim McManus deal with him everyday?
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Brandon Lee Gowton of BGN posted his practice notes. Highly productive young hack.
Good notes. Lots of quick, direct info.
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Today’s practice should start about 1240pm.
Check out Inside Training Camp at PE.com at 3pm for some highlights and interviews.
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In case you missed it, SalPal had an “interesting” report from Eagles camp yesterday.