At its core, Eagles Flight Night is not much more than a glorified football practice. On its surface though, it’s a dazzling spectacle that offers many fans their first chance to see the Eagles. Tonight, it also gave many players their first chance to run out of the tunnel at Lincoln Financial Field in an Eagles uniform. The excitement of both the fans and newcomers was palpable at field level.
To kick off the festivities, the 2010 cheerleading squad took to the field to perform for the more than 31 thousand fans in attendance. After an extended dance number, the cheerleaders took their places on the sides of the tunnel and the players had their big entrance.
While the backups ran in as a unit, there were many newcomers who enjoyed hearing their names called for the first time in Philadelphia. On the defensive side of the ball, rookies Brandon Graham and Nate Allen made their first entrances at the Linc. So did newcomers Ernie Sims and Darryl Tapp, both acquired via trade in the offseason. It’s also of interest that four defensive ends were announced with the “starting” unit: Graham, Tapp, Trent Cole and Juqua Parker. That’s a good indication that the battle for the starting spot across from Cole still rages on.
The loudest roars during introductions came for linebacker Stewart Bradley, quarterback Kevin Kolb, injured wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Brent Celek. Perhaps most importantly, key starters nursing injuries were all well enough to jog onto the field. DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel appeared healthy, while Jeremy Maclin jogged onto the field wearing a compression sleeve on his left leg.
The practice portion of the evening started with individual drills and moved into group installs before the number one offense took the field against the number one defense for live 11 on 11 situational plays. Kolb struggled with his accuracy during the drill, sailing passes and facing pressure from the Eagles defensive line. At one point, Kolb tucked and sprinted up field for a big gain – amplified by the fact that no defender could come close to the signal caller in his red jersey.
When the two second units matched up, linebacker turned pass rushing defensive end Moise Fokou blew past right tackle Jeraill McCuller on back to back plays. The Eagles coaching staff has continually praised Fokou for his ability to get to the quarterback.
One of the Eagles biggest areas of concern was again on display as Michael Vick bobbled a snap in the shotgun at one point, while third string quarterback Mike Kafka fumbled a snap from center Dallas Reynolds. The center to quarterback exchange is an area the Eagles need to improve in a hurry. Special teams provided perhaps the biggest highlight of the night when kicker David Akers drilled a 60 yard field goal right between the pipes with a couple of yards to spare.
At the conclusion of the practice, the team had a jersey giveaway before wrapping the night up with a fireworks display. Overall, the Eagles can consider Flight Night a great success. Most importantly, the list of injured Eagles remained unchanged at the end of the night. In addition, after just shy of two hours of pageantry and practice under the lights, the Eagles faithful probably had just enough of a taste of football to be teased by the fact that the real deal is still more than a month away.
Training Camp Coverage
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