The media got to watch practice yesterday and they shared a bunch of notes.
The best writer for practice notes is Sheil Kapadia. We’ll start with him.
11:34 - The offensive linemen set up in their stances. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutlandyells out instructions, and they fire off the ball to the second level where other players hold orange blocking mats.
Jason Peters probably doesn’t get enough credit for helping out the younger players. He’s constantly directing them in between drills. Right now he’s having a conversation with undrafted free agent Josh Andrews.
During the next offensive line drill, two players face each other. One holds an orange blocking pad, while the other drives him back. Stoutland yells over and over again: “Feet! Drive! Feet! Drive!”
Sometimes he motions to the guy with the pad and tells him to move in a specific direction. The point is that the linemen are supposed to move their feet. Undrafted free agent Donald Hawkins doesn’t do a rep to Stoutland’s liking.
“We’ve got a leaner!” he yells before correcting the rookie.
11:41 - Now three offensive linemen set up next to each other. It’s time to work on the Eagles’ bread and butter play: the inside zone. I asked Lane Johnson afterwards about how much practice time is spent on this one play. He estimated about 40 percent of each session for the offensive linemen.
Always good to read about the O-line. Love the nugget about Stoutland getting on Hawkins for leaning. You can get away with that stuff in college, but not the NFL. Linemen must move their feet to get into proper position. That allows them to block with balance and gives them more power. NFL defenders can toss aside blockers who don’t play with good balance. Reggie White’s famous “hump move” got OTs off balance and allowed him to toss them around like rag dolls.
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Jimmy Bama is next up for practice info. He’s got the headline event from yesterday, the Maclin scare.
• The biggest event of the day was Jeremy Maclin going down after fighting for a catch with Bradley Fletcher. Maclin clutched his left knee (he tore the ACL in his right knee last training camp) and stayed down for a minute or so before being helped up. He was initially limping around, but at the end of practice he walked into the building without a noticeable limp.
Otherwise I thought Maclin looked good. His cuts on routes were sharp, and he seemed to be getting off the line at the snap with some burst. There was one play in which he tried to adjust to a ball thrown over the wrong shoulder. It was a difficult play, but he didn’t look very good attempting to track down the pass. I would attribute that more to rust than lingering effects from an injury.
We’re gonna be holding our breath any time Mac goes down and grabs a knee or an ankle. He is the team’s best WR and is important to this offense. The season isn’t over if he gets hurt because there is still plenty of offensive firepower and a brilliant offensive coach in Chip Kelly, but no team can lose their best WR and not have some issues. Thankfully he’s okay.
Jimmy is the king of visual aids. Go read his article to see his take on the kicker battle. Something tells me you’ll come away laughing.
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– I’d hate to kill “Murderleg” after just one bad kick, but his pull hook of a chip shot field goal during 11 on 11s makes me wonder if he has any legit shot to push Alex Henery. It was always going to be a long shot for the undrafted rookie to unseat a three-year veteran, but he hasn’t done anything during the two practices I’ve witnessed that has made me go, ‘Wow.’ Last spring, when punter Donnie Jones starting booting sky-high punts, it was evident that undrafted rookie Brad Wing had no chance to win that job. Carey Spear deserves more time and the Eagles will surely give it to him, but the whole kicker competition seems like a façade right know. Spear’s field goal was from about 30 yards out. He hooked it at least ten yards wide left, missed the building that’s behind that field goal and sailed the ball into the parking lot.
Here’s my guess at what is going on. The Eagles went and signed a UDFA kicker to be here in the spring and summer. They can take a look at him and see if he’s got NFL potential. The coaches can work with him and see if technique work can help with any of his issues.
If Spear does fail, the Eagles can go sign a veteran PK for the preseason. That guy can come in and still provide competition for Alex Henery. Having a veteran PK right now wouldn’t be much benefit, unless there was one who was substantially better than the others. I get the feeling the Eagles didn’t see anyone on the street they felt was “must have” material.
For now, they’ll go with the rookie and see if he can be developed or if he is too much of a project. I don’t think this means Henery is totally safe. There is still time to add veteran competition.
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• Mark Sanchez seemed to struggle again today. The biggest issue I’ve seen with him is overthrowing his receivers when aiming towards the sideline. To Sanchez’s credit, he made a really good pump fake to the left before turning around and throwing right for a short screen pass to TE James Casey for a nice gain.
Sheil Kapadia mentioned a couple of good throws, but most writers agreed with BLG on Sanchez not looking good. Is it time to worry about him?
I don’t think so. Sanchez is having timing issues with the backup receivers, players he’s never thrown to before. I wouldn’t make too much of that for now. It does bear watching, though.
You always want to be careful about making too much of what you see in the OTAs, good or bad. Remember a couple of years ago when Trent Edwards looked awful in the OTAs? Everyone was ready to cut the guy and get him out of the league. The coaches had adjusted his mechanics and it got the best of him initially.
Edwards was much better in Training Camp and then was terrific in the preseason and actually won a roster spot.
OTAs are the time for learning. They are the time for experimentation and improvement.
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A couple of the writers offered pictures of RBs going through this device/structure.
When I played in high school, the OL went under something like that called “the chutes”. It forced you to stay low when blocking. I’m not sure what RBs or NFL players call that.