The Eagles began their second week of OTAs today. Here are some practice observations:
-- The practice fields at the NovaCare Complex became suddenly quiet when Jeremy Maclin fell to the ground and ignored chiding from the defense to get up. The jokes stopped once Maclin grabbed his left knee. It wasn’t the ACL knee, but to see the wide receiver go down during a non-contact drill -- although there was some contact (more on that later) – had to be a frightening moment for the Eagles. But Maclin quickly smiled and chuckled when LeSean McCoy ran over and said something and just seconds later bounced up from the turf and walked back to the huddle. He said afterward that he was OK.
The injury occurred during an 11-on-11 play at the goal line. Cornerback Bradley Fletcher was covering Maclin closely, but when Nick Foles’ pass arrived Maclin was able to get both hands on the ball. He dropped it just before, I believe, linebacker Connor Barwin bumped him from the inside. There’s been a lot of discussion about what qualifies as contact and what doesn’t at OTAs, especially after Cowboys’ linebacker Sean Lee’s season-ending torn ACL last week, but there was certainly contact on the Maclin play. He wasn’t pleased about Fletcher’s coverage on the previous play and had to be mildly upset about the collision on the following play. Whether practice was scheduled to end then or not, Chip Kelly called it a day not long after Maclin got up.
-- 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.
-- We got our first glimpse of rookie Jordan Matthews and he looked good … running around in shorts. OK, so it’s way too early to judge the second round receiver, but Matthews didn’t look overmatched by any means. He ran with the second team offense in the slot behind Brad Smith. Matthews kept running after nearly every catch, all the way to the end zone, even though the plays technically end without contact. It’s nice to see that kind of effort from a rookie. Matthews, who missed last Thursday to attend a rookie symposium in Los Angeles, spent about an extra 15 minutes working with quarterback Mark Sanchez after practice. I’ll have more on Matthews and his chances of winning the slot receiver spot in a column for tomorrow’s paper.
-- The Eagles added a new quarterback drill to practice, or at least one I had never seen before, despite its backyard feel. They had two sets of trash cans stacked three high with the top one slanted to the quarterbacks, who were a distance away. The objective was to drop high-arching throws into the can. I saw only one go in, but missed who had had thrown it. The drill was probably the brainchild of new quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave.
-- The Eagles worked on their nickel defense toward the end of the practice. When cornerback Brandon Boykin came on to play the slot, defensive end Cedric Thornton left, leaving Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan as the two inside down linemen. (I wrote about the defensive line in our re-setting the roster series here). Roc Carmichael was the second team slot corner. Nose tackle Damion Square left for Carmichael and Vinny Curry and Joe Kruger were the two inside down linemen during this particular set of plays.
-- I thought Nick Foles looked sharp today. He completed several deep-intermediate throws, including a thread-the-needle pass to Brent Celek over the middle. Sanchez (second team) and Matt Barkley (third) didn’t look anywhere near as impressive. Sanchez was best out of the pocket, but misfired on a number of throws. One incomplete pass appeared to be more on receiver Ifeanyi Momah because of a bad route. Barkley overshot a few receivers on sideline routes.
-- It hasn’t taken long for Sanchez to figure out that checking down to Darren Sproles will almost always make him look good. The new Eagles running back has looked fast and elusive – as you would expect.
-- Injuries: Aside from Maclin, there didn’t appear to be any other players that went down today. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks was back after missing Thursday’s session with a knee contusion. Tackle Dennis Kelly and receiver Jeff Maehl were at practice, but did not participate. The Eagles aren’t obligated to give out information on injuries in the spring so the nature of the injuries remains unknown. Every player was in attendance except for rookie safety Ed Reynolds, who has yet to graduate from Stanford.