Practice Roundup from Friday

Posted: August 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 34 Comments »

The Eagles had Saturday off, but we can still look back at what went down on Friday when the team was in action.

Let’s start off with Jimmy Bama. He had several good nuggets. First up, his take on CB Nolan Carroll.

For the third consecutive practice, a player in the Eagles’ defensive secondary flashed. Today it was free agent acquisition Nolan Carroll, who had an impressive diving interception. Before we commence with the Carroll love, there are two important disclaimers to note:

1) Like we noted previously with Jordan Matthews, Nolan Carroll is running with the second team. Therefore, he’s not seeing the same level of competition as Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, who are typically facing the first team offense.

2) While Carroll has had an inordinate number of pass breakups, he did not have an interception until today. Some of those chances have been outright drops, like today, when he had a chance to pick off two additional passes. Pass breakups are good, but it would be preferable, obviously, if Carroll could convert those opportunities into turnovers.

Still, what Carroll has shown so far has been very impressive. In OTAs and minicamp, when defensive backs are not allowed to jam receivers, the advantage is blatantly slanted toward the offense. Even then, Carroll did a great job breaking up passes. Now that the pads are on and the DBs are allowed to get their hands on receivers, the secondary has looked better to an obvious degree. The defense as a group has in turn also gotten their hands on a lot of footballs, but none more than Carroll. He has been a pass breakup machine.

At the end of the 2014 season, Bradley Fletcher will be a free agent. In 2015, Cary Williams will count for over $8 million against the salary cap. Carroll is a legitimate candidate to start this season, but even if he can’t crack the starting lineup, he’ll serve as very good depth, and could provide the Eagles with another option at CB in 2015 if Fletcher’s or Williams’ long term standing with the team are in doubt.

Typical Jimmy. Trying to get a player thrown off the team.

Joking aside, that’s a good take. He’s right on the money with his evaluation of Carroll and also how he might fit into the team’s plans for the future.

As for this year, Carroll has played well enough that the coaches are going to a Dime defense look with him on the field. You have to wonder if it wasn’t for Carroll, would they be doing that? The NFL is still very much passing league. DBs don’t have to start to be key contributors. Carroll also provides depth. The Eagles struggled with Bradley Fletcher out of the lineup last year. Carroll will help that situation quite a bit.

Good news for Emmanuel Acho fans.

• Big day for Emmanuel Acho, who has become somewhat of a forgotten man after many thought he would make the final 53 roster last season. With the offense running plays from their own two yard line, Acho made a pair of big plays. On the first one, he darted through the line and if the Eagles were tackling in practice, Acho would have had himself a safety. On another play, Acho was once again able to get immediate penetration and blow up a play before GJ Kinne could hand off to the running back. Kinne then had to scramble just to get out of the end zone.

ILB Jake Knott will be suspended for the first 4 games of the year. The Eagles will get a roster exemption for him. That could be filled by Acho. The team has to carry 4 ILBs. Ryans, Kendricks and Goode are locks. Beyond that, it is a fluid situation. Knott is probably the #4 guy, but Acho could win that spot. The Eagles need someone to step up and show that they can be the #4 ILB. Acho made some plays today and needs to do more of that to help his cause.

Finally, a nice note on Nick Foles.

• Nick Foles is so calm in the pocket at times. There was a play in which the offense was backed up on their own two yard line, where they faked a run to the right, and Foles rolled left. Fletcher Cox had gotten free and was bearing down in Foles’ face. Foles stopped, calmly located an open receiver, and got the ball out quickly. To note, there is obviously no hitting the QB in practice, but I think a number of other QBs would have panicked in that situation and simply thrown the ball up for grabs rather than risk being sacked in the end zone for a safety. Foles didn’t have to fear being hit, but his poise was nevertheless impressive.

* * * * *

Random nuggets from Sheil Kapadia.

James Casey makes a grab and raises his arms for a touchdown. Then the tight ends work on double moves – selling the corner route before cutting it back in for the post. Tight ends coach Ted Williams keeps his eye on the players’ feet and makes sure they sell the first part of the route before hitting the post.

12:25 – During 7-on-7s, rookie Jaylen Watkins breaks up a pass. I didn’t notice him much in the spring, but he’s flashed the past couple of days.

1:15 – The Eagles’ offense starts off backed up at its own 2 during the team period. Cedric Thornton makes a nice play against the run on first down.

“Nice job!” yells defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro. But even when he’s complimenting guys, he sounds angry.

Nick Foles gets Trent Cole to jump offsides. And when I say jump, I mean jump – as in leaping over the offensive line. Chip Kelly gets a laugh out of that one.

When the threes get up, Acho bursts into the backfield for a safety on a run play.

With the ones, Foles finds Arrelious Benn on a back shoulder throw against Williams.

Later, Williams delivers a forearm shimmy to Benn on a crossing route.

Jaylen Watkins has kind of flown under the radar this spring and summer. It will be interesting to see where he plays in the preseason game (slot vs outside) and if he is with the backups or the 3’s. Because of the starters, Bokin and Carroll, there isn’t a lot of pressure on Watkins to play right away. He might have a hard time even being active on gameday. For that to happen, he’ll need to really stand out on STs.

Funny note on Azz. I’m pretty sure he’s my favorite assistant. I wish the media could interview him more.

* * * * *

Jeff McLane has some more good OL/DL nuggets.

— Some readers have asked about second-year defensive end Joe Kruger this camp. He spent all of last season on Injured Reserve, which allowed him to pack on 20 lbs and get his shoulder healthy. I think he’s going to struggle to make the 53-man roster. I’ve watched three days of linemen one on ones and Kruger has had trouble getting push or past o-linemen. There are times when it’s clear the linemen are working on zone blocking techniques and maybe the effort isn’t 100 percent. The starters, whenever they’re matched up against each other, never seem to go all out. But the young guys do, as they should.

— Some other linemen observations: Alejandro Villanueva is a great story, but the transition to defensive end seems like it’s been a difficult one. The 6-foot-9 project looks too top heavy. He has a hard time holding his ground when a guard or tackle lines him up straight. Rookie nose tackle Beau Allen and defensive end Taylor Hart, on the other hand, have a strong base. Both look like legit NFL players, although I need to see more, particularly against other teams. I would be surprised if the late-round draft picks didn’t make the squad.

— You can see why the Eagles like Matt Tobin. They tried to get him to add about 10-15 pounds last offseason, but I’m not sure it stuck. He’s still listed at 290. He’s quick off the ball and seems to use his speed as leverage, much like Evan Mathis. He rocked Villanueva during one matchup, earning a smile and tap on the cap from offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.

Tobin is the most important backup OL right now. He played both LG and LT last summer. The Eagles need him to show that he can be an effective player if called upon in a real game. Pat Shurmur mentioned Dennis Kelly and Andrew Gardner as well, but my guess is that Tobin could be the top backup.

Kruger just turned 22 in early June so he is still very much a project. He might need a year on the practice squad so that he can develop and make a run at the roster in 2015. As a point of comparison, Taylor Hart is 23 1/2 years old. He played in more games in college and is just more NFL ready.

As for Villanueva, he was always going to be a long shot. He was mostly an offensive player at West Point. He’s been out of football for years and is trying to learn a new position. Think of him as this year’s Momah. You can’t be away from the game of football for multiple years and not be rusty.


You love to see this: Jason Kelce stayed after practice to work with Villanueva and a number of undrafted rookie offensive linemen.

Kelce is a terrific player. He also is quickly becoming an important team leader.

* * * * *

Brandon Lee Gowton had some good notes.

• Mark Sanchez targeted rookie undrafted rookie free agent tight end Trey Burton a number of times. I haven’t noticed Burton too often in camp but he stood out today. Now’s the part where I joke about Sanchez is cheating on favorite passing target: rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews.

• First play of 7-on-7: Nick Foles is intercepted on a short pass by safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins has had an excellent camp. He’s recorded at least three interceptions.  Meanwhile, that was Foles’ third total interception in training camp. He’s thrown one on each of the last three practices. All of Foles picks have come on short throws.

• The third interception was the most impressive. Nolan Carroll made an incredible diving interception on a G.J. Kinne pass thrown to the left side of the field. Carroll dropped two other interceptions on Friday, both from Mark Sanchez passes. As I wrote earlier this week, Carroll has a real chance of stealing a starting cornerback job if he continues to play this well.

More love for Jenkins and Carroll. Always love to read about those guys.

Glad to read about Burton. He is an undersized athlete who the Eagles might want to develop at TE. I’m not sure he’ll make a strong push for a roster spot this year, but he could be ideal for the practice squad. Excited to see him in a game.


34 Comments on “Practice Roundup from Friday”

  1. 1 John O'Doherty said at 9:08 PM on August 2nd, 2014:

    Burton is an interesting story. A great athlete, but too small at tight end, too slow at WR. Anybody who can score 6 TD’s in an SEC matchup is going to be somewhere in the NFL, I would think.

  2. 2 GEAGLE said at 4:57 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Practice squad at best

  3. 3 Jamie Parker said at 9:08 PM on August 2nd, 2014:

    Didn’t we see the same issues with Boykin last year in camp with the stone hands as Nolan Caroll this year? And look at how that turned out.

  4. 4 ACKID38 said at 9:19 PM on August 2nd, 2014:

    Jason Kelce helping all the other guys out. Thats good stuff. Maybe a coaching job when his playing days are over??

  5. 5 GEAGLE said at 3:39 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    He said he does it because the CBA practice rules suck for getting rookies up to speed. Coaches are only allowed with rooks during the practice time so he feels it’s up to the vets to get the youngbucks extra reps…

    I’m more excited about him posting his heighest numbers in the weight room, since becoming an eagle. And his growing chemistry with FOles…he talked about how FOles is an easy QB to block for because you usually know where he is, and how there was a transition from blocking for Vick who always moved around…..
    We didn’t give much thought to how well Kelce was able to transition to a new QB and make it seem seamless. Not like he got much chemistry with Nick during his rookie year. Kelce got hurt early in the season..QB/center chemistry should be excellent this year and both should be,even better pre snap

  6. 6 A_T_G said at 4:18 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    “And his growing chemistry…”

    Hopefully his weight room records aren’t a result of chemistry, one starting OLman out because of growing chemistry is plenty.

  7. 7 GEAGLE said at 4:56 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Don’t even say such thing. If Molk or Vandervelde don’t show some game in the preseason. May be wise to spend a second round pick on Oregon Hroniss Grasu who can backup Kelce and Herremans, and step in and perform as a quality starter if need be. Depth is coming along nicely to where we may be able to spend such a high pick on interior OL insurance….we gonna have to draft a ILB. No other positions require urgent upgrades tho we can use some more DB talent, even it I expect it to be our most improved unit Already

    Kelce missing any time is a disaster this year. I’d rather lose FOles for a game or two.. Say what u will about the butt fumble but I don’t know that many teams have better backup QBs

  8. 8 Tumtum said at 11:35 PM on August 2nd, 2014:

    Forearm shimmy lol.

  9. 9 theycallmerob said at 12:03 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Just curious, but anyone know of any updates re: Byrd/Ward? besides Byrd’s stripper troubles?

    Jenkins may not be the most talented guy. I was definitely on the Byrd/Ward wagon hard early spring, and am still unsure as to how much of a talent upgrade Jenkins is over, say, a healthy Nate Allen. (Granted, I also believe Nate still has some untapped potential that can achieved through health, consistency, and partner ability)
    However, very impressed with his leadership and cerebral approach. Really helps the young guys learn the position, and can make the calls like ‘Meco for the DBs. This player did not exist for us last year.
    Our defense will always be keyed on the front 7 to make plays. Hopefully those super-young DL grow up big and strong, and we add an ILB to grow with Marcus over the years. But now we at least have some Safeties who kind of know what they’re doing, the potential for Wolff to put it all together, and CB depth. Best of all, the hope is these guys are consistently playing with at least a 2 score lead.

    I really think we can push for a top20 defense this year (I see us ~20-25 on paper right now). We’re a playmaker away from top15, maybe another great draft/FA/year-in-scheme from top10-15 range. All thing go as planned, that’s more than enough to pair with an offense at historic levels.

    and yes i have been drinking

  10. 10 anon said at 12:15 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Think pass rush is the key, without that you’ll only be so good. Jenkins looks like he can cover well, and may be a ball hawk, hopefully the tackling improves and he’s not in the mold of other DBs we’ve had back there recently. I do understand that’s he’s an effective blitzer.

  11. 11 theycallmerob said at 12:26 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    I agree with you. Said as much.
    Our defense will always be keyed on the front 7 to make plays.

    I’m just not sure how much it improves this year. Does Davis blitz the DBs more? Or are they shaded more for coverage (backing up pressing CBs and watching TEs) so that the ILBs can threaten the A-gap? Does Smith really impact the rush that much? Does Graham stay? Does Curry play a bigger role? Do the DL grow and be more versatile or waste away 2-gapping? Does Barwin improve, but Cole decline? and lord help us if depth is called into action.

    just too many damn variables to predict anything

  12. 12 anon said at 8:57 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    I think we have better depth than last year at OLB and DL. Smith will not help pass rush but he will help in coverage and in disguising pass rush. I think we will try to rely more on deception and pass rush by committee (OLBs, ILBs and Safety blitzes) than having a stud rusher. I hope this means better executed exotic blitzes

    We can’t move Graham bc we have no depth at OLB, if T. Cole went down we don’t have another “predator”. We will draft OLB high again next year i think.

    DL will be interesting to watch, it would be nice if they schedmed ways for DL to pressure the QB since that’s where our real talent is.

  13. 13 GEAGLE said at 2:36 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    You did see them scheme DL open… Just think to all the twists and stunts you saw last year, often accompanied by ILB blitz up the middle…..we want big mobile DL for all the scheming they do on 3rd down
    Thinking BG is a surprise cut…. The ONLY thing that makes me hesitant is we care about how players getting other jobs, and cutting BG in August would be harsh…that’s the only thing holding me back from being sure BG gets cut, assuming Long didn’t lose his pre-injury explosiveness..

    Casey Mathews better not get a roster spot

  14. 14 GEAGLE said at 1:58 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Why wouldn’t curry play a bigger role? Do you think he is lazy and won’t improve on last years game experience? Even if he only ever sees the field on 3rd down, which I’m not ready to assume, he could still play a major role for us

    When you have a young team you cant project players as the same exact kids they were the year before, unless you don’t believe in the coaching they get or the kids Charecter and work ethic, which doesn’t seem to be an issue under Kelly….See Boykins second year of improvement compared with his first… Vinny was a rookie last year, regardless of what year he was drafted

  15. 15 theycallmerob said at 2:10 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    sure, but if he’s seeing the field that means someone else isn’t. Where’s he playing? Will he be limited by us playing dime? What if Thornton and Cox both look great, and Smith needs snaps? Not everyone is a pro bowler

  16. 16 GEAGLE said at 2:16 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    I think Curry and Cox will be our first team Nickle DTs in our 4man lines, when another D! Rotates into Nickle DT, curry will move over and see snaps as 4-3DE…expecting him to start in Nickle, whether he can earn snaps on first and second down remains to be seen.. Expecting a more disruptive Curry this year… Kid has put in a ton of work this offseason, including his brutal diet that sounds horrible….

  17. 17 GEAGLE said at 1:55 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Nate Allen isn’t even close to Jenkins.,,,maybe he was close as a prospect coming out of the draft, but Malcolm outclasses Nate as an NFL safety. Leave the PFT alone, leave it up to them and you will think Barwin was a bad signing. Pay no mind to fools who grade without even springing for the coaches tape…how the hell PFT can grade DBs off TV film is another mystery, that’s right, they can’t….
    They may be able to accurately grade linemen! but that’s about it

  18. 18 theycallmerob said at 2:10 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    eh, I didn’t bring up PFT, and I don’t need them to know Jenkins has been nothing more than a B/B- safety in the NFL. And I like him, too.
    I do think Allen will benefit tremendously from having another competent guy next to him. But I still think that’s the weakest position group by far on defense.

  19. 19 GEAGLE said at 2:29 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Jenkins is absolutely right, Nate Allen needs to unleash it. You will see an attacking defense, and Nate can’t be on the field if he refuses to as Jenkins put it “cut it loose”

    But hey, last year was Nates best year in forever, hopefully Jenkins is what he needed to take that next step and play attacking style… Think Wolff is too talented to not eventually take Nates job, just not sure if that will happen in September, or towards the end of the year….
    Chip Kelly bases everything off competition. Doubt we see too many cases of Chip signing a guy and immediately giving him a starting job, especially one Making so many calls….Chip thinks very highly of Jenkins, which excites me, especially when he passed on two players he knew well…
    If you want more than a box safety(Ward), more than a centerfielder (Byrd), makes sense why we value Jenkins,,. One of the best cover safeties who can lineup over the slot of teams don’t let us sub, best blitzing safety in the NFL last year..cerebral, well rounded, jack of all trades type of safety… He is the Barwin version of safeties with Meco’s leadership

  20. 20 xmbk said at 7:48 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    I think the Wolff situation is flying under the radar. There’s something the staff doesn’t trust in him, and I think it goes back to last year’s injury. Reading between the lines, it seemed as though he was the one keeping himself out of the lineup (during a playoff run), and it looks like it happened again Friday. This is still very much a North Dallas Forty league. Even a sport science, player friendly team like the Eagles needs players who play thru pain. Consistency from the starters is important. Look at Kenny Phillips last year, different player but some similarities. Not sure if it’s Allen or one of the other safeties who most benefits from all this, but Wolff is quickly getting to the put up or be forgotten zone.

  21. 21 anon said at 8:58 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Agree staying on the field is key especially for a guy like Wolff who needs the reps / trying to compete for that starting spot.

  22. 22 A_T_G said at 10:17 AM on August 3rd, 2014:


    Bradley Fletcher : Cary Williams :: Earl Wolff : Nate Allen

  23. 23 anon said at 12:17 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    haha honestly i think that’s pretty accurate.

  24. 24 GEAGLE said at 1:53 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Earl Wolff never missed a game in his life before last year, stop it

  25. 25 BC1968 said at 10:45 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    My dogs woke me up this morning real excited.

  26. 26 SteveH said at 11:01 AM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Hall of Fame game finally here. Football offseason feels like an eternity.

  27. 27 GEAGLE said at 1:52 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    We have very different dogs… I woke up to 270lbs of Dog jumping on me

  28. 28 BC1968 said at 9:00 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    haha very different. Those two put together are around 40lbs.

  29. 29 GEAGLE said at 1:51 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Yes. If Carroll wasn’t here we still would be whipping out the dime as soon as coaches get comfortable putting Jalen Watkins in a game

  30. 30 GEAGLE said at 2:06 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Not sure what makes Tobin more important than any of our backup linemen that we know very little about. Nothing to do but wait an see..

    Tho a very experienced pat Shurmur claimed this was the best second string OL he has ever been around in the NFL…and Pat “Mr. personality” Shurmur doesn’t sound like a cheerleader who blows smoke… It’s hard for us to agree, but just because we haven’t seen our backups, doesn’t mean we have no depth. We have unproven depth, but that isnt automatically a bad thing

  31. 31 GEAGLE said at 2:12 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Villanueva IMO is competing for the practice squad ?..Hopfully he can show enough to earn a spot. Which will put him ahead of where LONGSHOT Momah was last year…. Holding out hope that when the preseason starts, he plays like a fucking ninja version of JJ Watt…. But I’m not holding my breath…

    Think Beau, Squares and Kruger will be competing for two spots! one of those two spots being the 7th DL that we don’t dress on Gameday .Beau I will make it so it should be Kruger vs. d Square

  32. 32 GEAGLE said at 2:40 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Jenkins recorded 3 int THIS WEEK… Often putting the clamps on Pope Jordan the 81st

  33. 33 GEAGLE said at 3:35 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    LOL @ Chip making us huddle in practice vs. The Patriots.. Even he don’t trust his pal bellicheat with our hand signals!!

  34. 34 GEAGLE said at 5:00 PM on August 3rd, 2014:

    Think it would be foolish to lose Kruger at this point. Still the second youngest player out of the 90 guys we have at camp, and he put on a nice amount of weight in one offseason. No matter what level he is currently at, I hope we don’t lose him without seeing how he looks after another year of development. Putting that kid on the PS Squad is very risky. I wouldn’t do it. Cut D square, and keep Kruger as the 7th DL who doesn’t dress unless any injury occurs at DL…. Krugs and hart have potential to grow into a nice backup tandem of 4tecs. We made that pick understanding it wouldn’t provide much instant gratification.