Since the Eagles played on Friday night, practice today was not in pads. You normally wait until the third day after a game to practice in pads. During the season, games are on Sunday, meetings are on Monday and Tuesdays are the players day off. Wednesday is when business gets back to usual.
While it was a practice with limited contact, our heroic beat writers still went and took notes. We’ll start with the most beloved of hacks, Dr. James Bama. Here’s some of what he had to say.
• Greg Salas had a ball pop out of his hands on a high pass, David Sims failed to bring in what should have been a pick, and Salas was able to make the grab just before the ball hit the ground. Incredible concentration by Salas. It will be a crime against nature if Salas doesn’t make the team.
• Clay Harbor had a strong game against the Pats on Friday. That did not carry over to today. Three drops, by my count.
• Brent Celek’s awful training camp continues. Another drop today. Celek leads the team by a mile in drops throughout camp.
A crime against nature? Only Jimmy would use a phrase like that in regard to a roster battle. Just how does he think Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman decide who makes the team? On second thought, I don’t want to know. I really, really don’t want to know.
It is interesting to hear how bad he thinks Celek has been. Drops have been an issue for Brent all summer. No one disputes that. Referring to him as having an “awful camp” is strong language, but I appreciate the honesty. Jimmy goes every day. He’s watched these guys. That isn’t a casual comment. And it is easy to love a guy like Celek, who has been such a solid player and likable guy for several years. Being critical of players like that isn’t fun. Picking on rookies, total underachievers or overpaid jerks is easy.
* * * * *
* The first-team offensive line today (left to right) was: Allen Barbre, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce,Danny Watkins, Todd Herremans.
Lane Johnson missed practice to be with his new baby boy, who was just born. Herremans slid from right guard to right tackle, and Watkins filled in at RG. Barbre continues to fill in for Peters at LT.
I would prefer a healthy O-line working together and building continuity, but there is something to be said for all the cross-training that is taking place. I think last year’s injuries and this summer’s issues have improved the depth of the line. I’m comfortable with Lane Johnson starting at LT or RT. I’m not going to panic if Todd Herremans is at RG or RT. I’m probably in the minority, but I think I’d be okay with Danny Watkins at RG.
And I have to say that I don’t get all the anti-Dallas Reynolds comments from people. The guy stunk early on last year when he first got on the field. He got better as the season progressed and he got a better feel for things. The one issue that came up at times was erratic shotgun snaps. We’ve seen lots of players deal with that over the years. It just becomes a mental thing and players have to try and “snap” their way out of it. Some do, some don’t. The current staff seems to really want Julian Vandervelde as the backup C, but I think Reynolds clearly outplayed him. They may disagree. I think they’d be dead wrong, but my vote doesn’t count.
Another couple of items from Sheil.
Kenny Phillips left practice with a quad strain.
With Dorenbos sidelined, the team also signed long-snapper James Winchester.
Should we just shoot Kenny Phillips and get it over with? Is it possible to give someone a leg transplant? Nate Allen has a pair of pretty healthy legs.
We had to add a LS. Celek did a solid job, but you need someone who can get the job done on place-kicks. Alex Henery needs his game reps. He and holder Donnie Jones need a few live kicks to make sure their chemistry is good.
* * * * *
The big on-field news of the day is that Clay Harbor got some reps at WR. The Eagles are light there. They need help and have open roster spots, but they just don’t like the guys that are available. If they see decent WRs getting cut, they’ll grab one.
Harbor knows the slot position because the TEs play that role as well as the WRs. Harbor played some WR in college and has the speed to be okay out there, at least for practice and preseason games.
* * * * *
“It was nothing like this [in Baltimore], I’ll tell you that,” said Williams. “Different organization, different team, different coach, different colors. I can’t expect this team to be the same as Baltimore was.”
“Our philosophy was to stop the run, be stout upfront, hit people in the mouth, be aggressive, throw the first punch. That was what we were always taught. In the case with the Patriots practice, I felt the same way.”
“They came in here talking. They had a lot of jokes and kikis, and laughs, and a lot of dirty plays that were going on. There was a reason behind [why I got in a fight], a reason behind the madness, but at the end of the day I still have to do things the way coach wants me to do them, and I understand that, but it definitely would have been a different situation if it was in Baltimore. It wouldn’t have been a fun practice for the Patriots, I’ll tell you that.”
Williams also talked about the toughness of the Eagles defense. “I think Brian Dawkins alluded to it a couple times when I spoke to him,” Williams said. “He was talking about ‘Bring that fear back here.’ Right now I don’t know if there’s anybody out there in the league that fears this defense, especially after last week.”
“I don’t want to be a doormat, and that’s just how I feel about the situation.”
We’ve got a few things to discuss here.
First, shut your mouth until you’re on the field. Simple as that. He skipped most of the spring. He’s been hurt most of the summer. Practice for a whole week. Play in a game. Then talk about what’s going on.
Next, the Patriots came in here and made some jokes and had some laughs? I’m sure they did. They’re the big dogs and we’re the keystone cops right now. Cary…this ain’t Baltimore. We didn’t win the Super Bowl last year. We didn’t almost make it the year before. You came to a 4-12 team that is trying to re-tool on the fly.
I’m all for team pride and having a chip on your shoulder, but to act as if we needed to fight the Patriots in practice is just silly. The Pats and Ravens had a heated rivalry. The Pats and Eagles don’t. The teams meet each summer, but only play a real game every four years. There is nothing special about the Pats and Eagles.
As for toughening up the defense…I’m all for that, but it takes time. The Eagles have played one whole preseason game under Bill Davis. I can’t believe he hasn’t totally fixed the defense. What a jerk!!! This group should be Gang Green, Pt. 2 already. What’s wrong with Davis? You’d think his “top” CB was hurt and not much help or something like that.
Davis and Kelly want the D to be tougher. They are adding bigger, stronger players. There will be more of a focus on run defense. It takes time. Cary joined the Ravens when they were already a defensive machine. You don’t just click your heels and have a tough D. It takes years to build something like that.
And let’s go beyond that. The Ravens had a big, tough defense for the past decade. When did they win the Super Bowl? When the QB got the right coach and the offense clicked. The Ravens won that game because Flacco and Boldin were great, not because of Ray Lewis or Ed Reed or a bunch of defensive rhetoric.
The Eagles need an identity on defense, but that is way, way, way, way behind finding a franchise QB. The days of a defense carrying a team to a title are long gone. You can argue whether that’s good or bad. Could make for interesting discussion. Point is, you need the right offense to win in today’s NFL.
We love to reminisce about Buddy and the great Eagles defenses he had. Those guys were tough. They played with attitude. And they lost in the play0ffs. They gave up 20, 21, 20, 20 and 34 points in playoff games from 1988-1992.
Jim Johnson’s defense held Tampa to just 3 points in the first playoff game of the Andy Reid era. Then they gave up 20, 9, 19 and 6.
Which 5-game stretch is better? Which team was more fierce and had more attitude?
Attitude is overrated. Play hard. Be mean. But running your mouth and telling the world how tough you are isn’t as important as playing smart, disciplined football. If you can do both, that’s great. That’s usually when you have a special group. And the Eagles won’t be having a special defense for at least a couple of years. And that is the optimistic view.
So Cary…shut up about Baltimore.
Shouldn’t you be picking out sconces or china patterns or tea sets anyway?