Let’s start by talking about Friday’s practice.
We’ll lead off with Jimmy Bama’s notes. Let’s talk about RBs.
• Chris Polk is having a great camp. I’ve yet to see him a drop a pass, and he looks faster than I’ve ever seen him. There’s a reason for that. Polk said that his weight is down to 216, after being around 230 a year ago. He did extra cardio all season, and ate more salads, fruit, and oatmeal. He also noted that in high school he played wide receiver for two seasons before converting to running back, so catching passes comes naturally to him. “I feel a lot quicker,” said Polk. “My lateral movement is better, pickup speed is way better. I just feel better, and healthier.”
• Felix Jones muffed a kickoff today, and the ball rolled out of bounds. Ugly. Over the last 3 years, Jones has had 10 fumbles on just 529 touches. That is far too many. Bryce Brown is known as a fumbler, but Jones isn’t without issues of his own.
Unless Felix Jones picks it up in the games, it feels like he might not make the team, let alone be the #3 RB. I think Matthew Tucker could steal the spot away. Do you really want a veteran like Jones as your #4 RB?
Make sure to read Bama’s notes. He’s got lots of artwork for you to enjoy tonight.
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The great Sheil Kapadia posted his notes. How about some WR talk?
1:26 – 7-on-7s. Matt Barkley throws one of his best balls of the week, hitting Ifeanyi Momah on an intermediate out between two defenders. Excellent anticipation, and good job by Barkley to get the ball up high where only Momah could reach it.
If you’re wondering about the wide receiver position without Riley Cooper here, Damaris Johnson is getting most of the first-team reps alongside Jackson.
2:00 – 7-on-7s. Foles goes with the first team (yes, he and Vick rotated once again). Celek with a drop on the first rep. He’s had quite a few of those this summer.
On the next play though, Celek beats Kendricks, and Foles shows great touch on a ball near the sideline.
Barkley with a beautiful throw on a deep ball down the left sideline. Didn’t write down who the receiver was, but he beat Curtis Marsh. One of Barkley’s best downfield throws all camp.
Vick, meanwhile, throws a dart to Momah on the post between Jordan Poyer and Kenny Phillips. Pretty good day all around for the quarterbacks.
Also worth noting: This was easily Momah’s best day of practice.
2:28 – Another Momah highlight: He makes an adjustment against Trevard Lindley on a deep pass from Foles for a 50-yard touchdown. The fans love it. And so do Momah’s teammates. James Casey runs over to congratulate him, as do his fellow wide receivers.
Glad to hear that Ifeanyi Momah stepped up. Is this an anomaly or can he build off it? Having a good day is nice, but players must be able to perform like that every day. Consistency is the hallmark of good players.
Momah has unique size and some good potential, but he won’t be a serious threat to make the final roster unless he can play well on a regular basis. Momah still has good long term potential. The question is whether he can make the team and contribute this year or if he needs time on the practice squad so that he can develop.
Sheil also made note that he and Tim McManus were talking about the lack of scuffles. Sheil says if things don’t pick up, he’s willing to deliver a cheap shot. This is what makes him a great writer. And I’ve got a great idea for what he should do.
Writers…watch out if you see Sheil carrying a cane at practice.
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During a one-on-one blocking drill with tight ends working against linebackers, the rushers, as expected, won nearly every battle. Newcomer Travis Long was particularly eye-opening in shoving aside Emil Igwenagu on multiple occasions. Brent Celek remains the best blocking tight end on the roster.
Cornerback Cary Williams made a nice interception on a slant route in which he reached behind his body and snagged the ball.
The defense as a whole looked really good in coverage today, sticking with receivers and forcing the quarterbacks to go through every read before pulling the ball down and roaming outside the pocket.
The secondary is a huge mystery. We don’t know who the starters will be. We don’t know how they’ll play. They will be better than what we saw the final 10 games of last year. Remember the 6-game stretch where QBs had a rating of 125 or more? It is virtually impossible to be worse. That stretch of games was some of the worst DB play you’ll ever see. It drove down the overall numbers for the season. Domo has the stats:
The Birds gave up 33 touchdown passes, which not only was the most in the league, but also the most in franchise history.
Their eight interceptions were the third fewest in the league.
Their 99.6 opponent passer rating was the second-worst in the NFL and their 104.7 third-down opponent passer rating was the bottom of the barrel.
The secondary will be awkward as we have to get used to these new players and they have to get used to each other. Still, this group is going to be in a much better scheme and they are overachiever types. They will play hard. They will give a damn. That sure didn’t seem to be the case all the time last year.
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Misc practice info
* Jason Kelce sat for part of the day. Julian Vandervelde got some reps with the 1’s. Kelce is dealing with muscle fatigue, which is a common issue for players coming off ACL tears (and bloggers who are doing anything that requires effort). Vandervelde still seems like a longshot to make the team, but they are giving him a chance to show what he can do.
* Jason Peters didn’t practice again. The Eagles seem to be taking it easy with him, which is the smart way to go. Peters can play with Evan Mathis so they don’t need to build chemistry. Jason can watch practice and take mental reps to help him with the scheme. Be smart with those legs to keep him healthy.
* DE Clifton Geathers got some reps with the 1’s. I really can’t wait to see him play.
* WR Dave Ball got hurt late in practice.
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Now for Rileygate. I know some of you are tired of hearing about this. It is wearing on me as well, but we can’t just ignore it.
Tim McManus wrote about what’s going on after today’s practice. Chip Kelly had some things to say.
“There’s never been any question of cutting Riley,” said Kelly. “It was really important I thought for Riley to be with us yesterday. I didn’t just want him sitting at home. So he was with the team, and then finally when we got the plans in place [for the counseling]. I met with him again this morning. He’ll be gone — I don’t have an exact timetable, that will get figured out — but his status with us is not in question.
“No one has expressed to us that they can’t play with him.”
Kelly isn’t backing down. I can see where some question this, but there is some logic to it. Kelly is showing his players that he will support them through thick and thin. He is only doing this because he feels Cooper is worth supporting. This tells me that Cooper had a good reputation within the organization and the locker room. If Cooper was a turd, he’d have gotten flushed after the video came out.
A couple of other things you may want to read.
What is notable here is that both men are African-Americans and think Cooper should be forgiven and stay with the team.
Feel free to continue the discussion on the subject if you like. I don’t have any thoughts to add at this point. Yesterday you guys did a terrific job of mostly keeping the discussion reasonable and interesting. We all don’t have to agree. Just choose your words carefully and avoid inflammatory comments.