We may call Cary Williams by the nickname of Sconces, but there sure isn’t much that is soft about the way he plays the game. Williams wanted to make sure the defense started playing with more attitude and took it upon himself to lead the way.
After the first full practice in pads at Lincoln Financial Field on Monday, Cary Williams was asked if he was surprised that there were two fights, and he wasn’t involved involved in either of them. “Oh mine is coming,” replied Williams. Welp… On the third day of practice in pads, Williams tried his damnedest to mix it up.
On one play early in practice, undrafted rookie free agent Kadron Boone caught a pass near the sideline, when he casually tried to step out of bounds. Williams came barreling in and de-cleated him. “I just wanted to send a message early,” said Williams, “so that people know we’re going to be out here and stay physical, be aggressive, and just play football. It’s part of the game. We have pads on. I didn’t hurt him. You have to expect that if a guy has a great angle on you in a game, that’s what’s going to happen.”
“Welcome to the NFL,” said Boone.
Then later, Williams was playing press coverage on Jeff Maehl, I suppose, if press coverage is grabbing a guy, throwing him to the ground, and delivering hybrid pushes/punches to a guy laying in the dirt.
I like having some guys play with attitude and being on the edge, but this isn’t something you want to see on a daily basis. Having Cary Williams lay on Jeff Maehl and not let him up doesn’t prove much. You can’t throw WRs to the ground in real games. Doing it in practice is good from time to time to keep some edge between the players, but too much of this just isn’t productive.
As for Jimmy’s take on the kicking battle.
• Both kickers had OK days. Early on, Alex Henery and Murderleg started strong, each hitting from 45, 50, and 52. Later, Henery doinked one off the crossbar and over from about 50, and on the last day of practice, Murderleg doinked off the left upright from about 46 yards out, and was no good. I guess Chip isn’t superstitious. No way I’d end a practice on a missed FG.
It is good to hear that Carey Spear is much improved from the spring. I don’t know how much he is seriously pushing Alex Henery, but Spear is kicking better. Nerves and dealing with a new situation had to affect him back in May and June. He now knows what he’s doing and can be more natural.
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– The linemen went at it for one on ones for a second day in a row. Here were some of the highlights:
1. Jason Kelce did fine work against rookie nose tackle Beau Allen. He’s not the biggest center, but Kelce’s footwork is text book. I didn’t come up with that on my own. I’ve had many football people tell me how seamless a technician he can be.
2. A few readers have asked how defensive end Alejandro Villanueva has looked. He looks like he needs time to learn the position. Guard Matt Tobin wrecked him during one standoff.
3. Here’s a mismatch: Jason Peters vs. Joe Kruger. No offense to Kruger, who spent all of last season on IR, but the matchup was like a battle of the bands between the Rolling Stones and Creed.
4. Vinny Curry rushed from what looked like the seven-technique during his matchup with Lane Johnson. Curry is a good inside pass rusher, but the Eagles will sometimes line him up outside as an edge rusher, where he’s probably more comfortable. Speaking of moving linemen around, defensive end Fletcher Cox rushed from a two-point stance off the edge just inside outside linebacker Trent Cole during one team drill. I wouldn’t expect that look very often, but Bill Davis will try to find new ways to utilize Cox’ athleticism.
5. Cedric Thornton made quick work of Dennis Kelly with a hand slap. Taylor Hart ran over fellow rookie Karim Barton. Brandon Graham juked rookie tackle Kevin Graf with a crossover move. Graf could only hang his head afterward.
Another positive comment on DE Taylor Hart. Nice.
Graham should eat up Graf every single time they face each other. Graf isn’t a good pass protector and Graham can still fly off the edge.
I’d like to hear more about Kruger. I’m looking forward to seeing how he plays in the preseason games.
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Rookie seventh-rounder Beau Allen, who teammates have raved about since the spring camps, ran at nose tackle frequently on the first-team base defense. The Eagles have worked Bennie Logan and Damion Square mostly on the first team before giving Allen some reps there. Also, Maragos took his turn running alongside Jenkins at safety on the first defense.
Allen is playing with the 1’s due to injury so let’s not make too much of this. I did find Mosher’s comment about how teammate have raved about Allen to be interesting. I guess I have missed that.
Bennie Logan is going to be the starting NT, but the spot behind him is wide open. Allen certainly has the size to handle the role. He’s got the athleticism. He must show that he can consistently hold his ground against double teams. Just because you are 330 pounds does not mean you can anchor against NFL blockers.
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• Nick Foles was mostly good but there were a few errors. During an Eagles seven on seven drill he hit one of the bug-wing defenders (picture here) for the first time in training camp. Or possibly ever. I don’t remember him doing that last year in camp.
Foles also threw his second interception of training camp after throwing his first on Wednesday. This time it was a short pass over the middle. Just like the first interception, Foles had a receiver running a drag route and he threw behind him. Foles almost had a third training camp interception when Nolan Carroll dropped one in the end zone. Had Foles put a little more arc on his pass it could have been a touchdown but it was too flat.
Two of Foles’ best throws came when his tight ends were involved. Foles threw an absolute dime to Zach Ertz on the sideline for a 15 yard gain at one point with Cary Williams in coverage. Williams had no chance because it was placed perfectly. Good route by Ertz as well. The play that stood out the most for Foles is when he threw a back shoulder to Brent Celek in the endzone for a touchdown. Brandon Graham was in coverage when Foles released and Celek stopped his route to make the catch. Beautiful.
Foles looked very good in the spring. He’s been up and down in recent days at camp. I think part of that is missing Riley Cooper and dealing with some new players, but Foles also needs to play better. Young players are going to have some ups and downs. That’s part of the maturation process.
The preseason games will tell us a lot about where Foles really is. We can judge his numbers vs what he did last year. We’ll know the context of how he plays.
Eliot Shorr-Parks is still keeping track of the QB numbers. We don’t know the full context, but here are Foles from Thursday.
Reps on Thursday: 28 (all with first team)
Stats on Thursday: 16/22, TD, INT
Analysis: Foles had an up-and-down day, but finished the afternoon razor sharp, hitting seven of his last nine passes, including a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Damaris Johnson. The pass was lofted just above the fingertips of two defenders, and Johnson did a nice job making the catch and staying in bounds. Foles did throw another interception, which isn’t a huge deal, but worth noting. Before practice offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that the quarterback likes to throw it into tight coverage during practices to see how his receivers will react, so that could be the reason for the interception.
Overall Stats: 164 reps (all with first team), 89/119, 1 TD, 2 INT
The most interesting thing is to compare the numbers for Matt Barkley and GJ Kinne. There was a discussion not long ago about how Kinne was cutting into Barkley’s snaps. To this point, Barkley has 84 snaps in camp and Kinne has 41. So much for any competition between them.
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Back to the field… Foles rolls to his left off play-action and finds Maehl near the sideline. I remember when Foles was a rookie, one of the things Andy Reid liked about him was that he could throw on the move.
Nice sequence for DeMeco Ryans. It’s a “thud” period, meaning you can make contact with the ball-carrier, but no tackling to the ground. Ryans is a powerful guy though, and he knocksLeSean McCoy on his butt. On the next play, he drops in coverage and intercepts Foles.
On the last play of the drill, Bryan Braman strips David Fluellen. I think that is the first fumble of the summer.
12:48 – Referees are at practice today, and at the beginning of this drill, they throw a flag on Fletcher for his contact with Maclin during 1-on-1s.
Ifeanyi Momah makes his best play in two years. It looks like a back-shoulder fade down the left sideline against Boykin. At the last minute, Momah leaps, reaches up and makes the grab. I’ve said he needs to learn how to use his size to have a shot, and he did so there.
Either Malcolm Jenkins can cover or we need to slow the Matthews hype down. The Eagles’ new safety just stuck with the rookie step for step on a corner route deep downfield and forced an incompletion.
Rookie Jaylen Watkins flashes, breaking up a pass intended for B.J. Cunningham.
On the last play of the drill, Foles and Matthews are not on the same page. Another reason why I think it’s about time the rookie gets all his reps with the starting quarterback.
1:02 – During 7-on-7, the Eagles show a dime package. I haven’t seen this previously: It’s Williams, Fletcher, Boykin and Carroll, along with two safeties and Mychal Kendricks. Given how good Carroll has looked, this could end up being a nice option in third-and-long situations or against specific opponents.
Sanchez throws three incompletions in a row, but the last one draws a flag on the defense. Williams finds the ref on the sideline for a lengthy discussion. I’m guessing he disagreed with the call.
Nate Allen does a good job of breaking on a ball deep down the left sideline from Barkley, but he can’t hold on for the INT.
A couple of writers made positive mention of CB Jaylen Watkins. The rookie is behind 3 good outside corner and Boykin in the slot, but it would still be nice for him to show some positive signs. The Eagles pass defense needs all the help it can get.
Cool to hear about the Eagles mixing in that 4-1-6 look. They might have the DBs to make that work. And you still want Kendricks on the field. That’s a lot of speed running around. Imagine if the DL was Trent Cole and Marcus Smith at DE with Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry at DT. That would be one fast group of pass rushers.
Bill Davis will have some interesting choices as he and the staff design different packages.
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Safety Keelan Johnson is back with the team. PE.com has the details.
After he was arrested in Arizona on the weekend before Training Camp, safety Keelan Johnson knew the Eagles could easily have released him and parted ways. Johnson returned to Philadelphia and met with head coach Chip Kelly, who gave him the best news possible. The Eagles weren’t going to cut him and excused him from the start of camp to take care of his situation.
“I was a little nervous. Once you face something like that, this is a game where they can get rid of you and find somebody else to bring into the position,” Johnson said after his first training session back on Thursday.
Johnson declined to discuss details of his arrest since it is still part of an ongoing investigation. He was reunited with his teammates on Wednesday and felt welcomed back by the team. Now, the hard work begins. Johnson played in his first two NFL games last season after being promoted from the practice squad on December 17. In team drill periods on Thursday, Johnson mixed in with the third-team defense.
“I think it’s the same situation I came back to this year. I’m on the bottom of the list now,” Johnson said. “I think I need to come back and not force anything, let the game come to me and stand out more than the guys who are coming here trying to take the spot I’m looking for.”
Johnson needs to stand out on the field to help his chances of making the team or earning a practice squad spot.