Riley Cooper returned to practice on Tuesday. This is a story on 2 levels.
First, let’s deal with the off-field angle. Riley said he went home and spent some time with his family. He talked about how hard this situation has been on his parents. I can believe that. Everywhere they go, they’re likely hearing about their son the racist. Riley may be an NFL player, but like all of us, he still answers to Mom and Dad. I still maintain that this type of thing is much more effective punishment than suspending him for a week or for a game. Making Riley look his teammates, parents, friends and family in the eye and answer for his actions is humiliating and humbling.
Riley met with the media after practice. He said he apologized to all of his teammates in person. We don’t know if Riley is genuine with his apologies, but the tone is right. He truly seems ashamed of the situation and hasn’t offered any excuses. If this is acting, Riley should quit football on the spot and go straight to Hollywood.
Teammates said all the right things. They talked about how this is behind them and they want to move on. I’m sure there are still some lingering issues with a few players, but it does feel like this situation is heading in the right direction. I’m sure hoping that’s what is going on.
Now to the football side of things. Riley had a good day of practice. He caught 3 TD passes. He started a bit slow, but was red hot by the end of practice. One of the points I’ve stressed is that Riley’s performance would be crucial to making the situation subside. Teammates will find it easier to forgive a player that is playing well and can really help the team. “I’m sorry’s” + TD catches will go a long way to helping Cooper stay an Eagle.
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Cooper’s return became even more important today because Arrelious Benn tore his ACL. Ugh.
I was really excited to see what Benn could do in this offense. I’ve been a huge fan of his since college. His size, his blocking ability, his RAC skills…he seemed like such a good fit.
The good angle to this is that Benn hadn’t really carved out a role yet. There is no chemistry to disrupt.
The Eagles also cut WR Dave Ball. That gives them 3 open spots. Expect them to sign at least one WR. Could very well add 2. WR Damaris Johnson was great early in practice, but left with a hamstring injury. Hopefully that isn’t too serious. He could be a key player for this offense.
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Jimmy Bama posted his practice notes. The media consensus is that Nick Foles was the better of the 2 Eagles QBs today. Jimmy was part of that thinking.
• Nick Foles’ day started very poorly, but he recovered in a big way. On his very first rep, Foles threw a short pass into the flat where it should have been picked off by Aqib Talib and taken back the other way for 6. But after that, he was great.
His highlight throws:
– Foles’ best throw on the day was a post corner route to Riley Cooper. The ball came out before Cooper made his final cut, but it was delivered to a perfect spot over Cooper’s shoulder. Great ball.
– Foles hit DeSean Jackson deep down the sideline for a TD. They beat rookie Logan Ryan. Good throw, although DeSean got a lot of separation. Easy.
– Foles had another little subtle throw that impressed me. DeSean Jackson was running across the middle wide open. Foles hitched before throwing, quickly reloaded, and fired. It took me a second to realize what the hitch was all about, but I figured out that a flyswatter guy was likely in the way initially.
I think we have reached the point where Vick and Foles are pushing each other. Vick was better over the weekend and now Foles is responding with a strong start to the week. Now it is up to Vick to top him tomorrow. We’ll see if this continues, but it is an encouraging sign.
One thing that a few people have reported is that both QBs are still holding the ball too long. That will be something to watch for on Friday night.
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Sheil Kapadia posted his notes. Let’s see which defensive players made a play or two.
Brady carves up the Eagles’ secondary, but Mychal Kendricks shoots into the backfield and makes a nice play against the run.
Some good moments for the Eagles’ defensive linemen. Cedric Thornton picks up a “sack” and Vinny Curry gets in the backfield on a run play. In the red zone, Kendricks blitzes, and Chung nearly intercepts Brady.
In the red zone, Kendricks makes another nice play against the run. In nickel, the Eagles go with Fletcher Cox, Thornton and Trent Cole as their three down linemen. Today, Graham is playing the “joker” role we’ve seen Barwin play in the past.
I like reading Mychal Kendricks’ name like this. He can be a playmaking ILB. If you want to run a good 3-4, you need that. Brian Cushing, Houston. Lawrence Timmons, Pittsburgh. Both guys in SF. And so on. I think we all remember what a wrecking crew Daryl Washington was all by himself last September.
Sheil’s humorous note for the day.
12:19 – Bill Belichick’s press conference just ended. I was really hoping (Tim) McManus would say something to tick him off, but it didn’t happen. Luckily, the Patriots will still be here for a couple more days, so there’s still time.
How does Saint Timothy deal with such a bad person working alongside him?
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— The Eagles offense didn’t look any different than it has for most of camp, although there was one notable difference: They huddled much more than normal. There was a decent amount of running, a fair share of short screens and quick button hooks, and enough deep throws to satisfy fans. There was some read option, although the quarterbacks never had to run. Kelly said that he didn’t feel the need to hold back because the Eagles won’t see the Patriots this season.
Jeff also noted that Bryce Brown dropped 3 passes. Not good. Brown had some issues last summer with drops, especially on easy passes. This is strictly due to concentration. No one questions Brown’s immense talent, but he’s got to work on the little things to become the player that he’s capable of being.
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Defensive end Clifton Geathers is unmistakable on the field simply due to his sheer size, but he’s standing out for making plays, too. The Patriots offensive line couldn’t move him off the line, and he penetrated into the backfield and met the running back in the hole with a “pop” to stop a play for negative yards.
During the one-on-one drills between the Eagles offensive line and Patriots defensive line, first-round pick Lane Johnson continued what has been a very strong camp thus far, stoning blockers left and right.
The surprise player of the drill was probably center Matt Tennant, who was a brick wall against his former team. Tennant is competing at both center and guard as he fights for a roster spot.
It is a shame that Damaris Johnson ended practice on the sideline because he was the star of practice early on, dazzling with his hands and feet. First he jumped over cornerback Kyle Arrington – who didn’t bite on the stutter-step fake and had tight coverage on the post-corner route – to make an excellent catch. Then he displayed tremendous body control along the left sideline by stopping, turning his torso 180 degrees, and reaching out to snatch the ball all in one motion, with toe-tap included, before falling out of bounds. To cap things off, and all this happened within a 10-minute span, Johnson made an awesome juke while running back a kick from deep in the end zone. He started to go right, but then stopped on a dime at the 15-yard line and changed direction after he saw the Patriots who were covering the kick on the other side start to drift and overpursue. All three players were caught flat-footed and couldn’t recover as Johnson exploded left to open space to pick up extra yards. In addition to Johnson, who was listed as the primary kickoff returner, Jones, cornerback Brandon Boykin and Shepard were in at kick returner.
I really can’t wait to watch Clifton Geathers in action. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t eat at least one Pats player Friday night. I want him to grab Danny Amendola and swallow him whole. No biting. No chewing. Just…”You’re gone.” There is no penalty for devouring small WRs, right?
Damaris better get healthy soon. I’ve got enough else to worry about. (mainly…which Eagles legends will Jimmy Bama be upsetting on a given day)
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Eagles fans…we are spoiled. Eagles writers and bloggers do a phenomenal job.
After reading all those practice notes, check out this “report”. What the hell is that crap? Yates is a good writer, but that”s considered a practice report? Yikes.
Here is a better report. Still isn’t up to Eagles standards.
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* Daniel Jeremiah said on Twitter that he thinks Chris Polk could challenge Bryce Brown for the backup RB spot. Polk has had a great camp and played well again on Tuesday. Brown flashed elite talent in regular season games, but hasn’t been as consistent as Polk this summer. Interesting battle where I didn’t expect one.
* Watching Ifeanyi Momah on the PE.com highlights and he really looks like a project. He will need to turn into Jerry Rice to seriously challenge for a roster spot. This isn’t a question of potential. He simply needs practice and coaching.
* Tom Brady was brilliant today based on what everyone said. He repeatedly shredded the Eagles secondary. Before you go into panic mode, let’s remember this is Tom Brady and it’s a practice. Limited contact. No defensive gameplan. This situation favors a veteran like him in a big way. It is good for the Eagles players to see the level they need to aspire to. “That’s what football greatness looks like.” I’d be preaching that to my players over and over. The next time someone thinks he’s had a good game, remind him of Brady’s performance.
* There was no Connor Barwin at practice today. Brandon Graham wasn’t great in coverage. He’s going to have some struggles. I hope he’s able to deal with this the right way. You can’t obsess on your mistakes and let that eat at your confidence. Graham must keep learning and not get too discouraged.
* More Allen Barbre at LT. I’d love to know how he’s doing.
* Kenny Phillips got some reps with the 1’s in place of Nate Allen. Most people feel Kenny has been somewhat struggling. Is this a way to wake him up or has he played better than people realize?