The Eagles offense was the topic of discussion at the end of this morning’s practice, as the unit has been shaky throughout the first full week of training camp. At one point towards the end of the morning practice, cornerback Dimitri Patterson read a play perfectly as he jumped a route to pick off starting quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Kolb said other than the later portion of practice, he felt that the offense had improved. “Well to be honest, today we were pretty sharp to start off. We had a few there at the end, and I think besides a couple of just mental errors on some guys parts, and some myself, I think we had a pretty good practice,” said Kolb.
One of the reasons for the struggles is the offensive line, which still isn’t close to healthy. Center Jamaal Jackson and guard Todd Herremans are both on the physically unable to perform list, with no sign of their return being imminent. Nick Cole is filling in at center, but he left today’s practice with a knee injury. That forced Mike McGlynn onto the top unit. Max Jean-Gilles has been the left guard in the absence of Herremans.
All of that shuffling doesn’t lend itself to strong play up front, and the interior of the line has been giving up a lot of pressure. Head coach Andy Reid attributes some of the offensive mistakes to the effective pass rush, “You can’t have the interceptions, you can’t have the sacks, the quarterbacks running around way too much with the pressure that he’s getting.”
Reid did commend his lineman for their blocking in the run game, where he’s seen some big plays. But everyone knows Reid loves to pass the ball, so improvements will be critical in that area. On the flip side, the offense’s struggles could simply be attributed to a good defense. “Well the positive, I think, is the defense is playing well. That’s a positive,” said Reid. “You normally see offenses come together a little bit later than defenses.”
Kolb explained that it may also be an advantage that the defense gets pretty familiar with the offense during camp. “Of course the defense sees you for the tenth, eleventh, twelth day in a row. But that’s good, they make it tough on us,” Kolb said. “That means we have to be more precise and more detailed, and that’s how you get better.”
Graham Gets Time with Ones
Eagles rookie defensive end Brandon Graham had a chance to work with the top unit today in the Nickel package during group installs. Graham and Juqua Parker are battling for the top spot across from Trent Cole and were rotated in and out during 11 on 11 drills. Reid said he isn’t too concerned with who the starter is, as he views his defensive line as a group of eight guys who will rotate. “I want them all to play. I want them all to have confidence that we can call on the next guy and the next guy steps in and you don’t lose anything,” said Reid. “Now, in the nickel, we’re using [Graham] in nickel situations, along with [DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim]. Both of those two are working in nickel situations. And then that helps keep everybody fresh and going.”
That mix includes using some defensive ends on the inside on passing downs. In the Nickel installs today, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim and Darryl Tapp both lined up as tackles. Te’o-Nesheim also dropped off the line of scrimmage just before the snap and rushed the passer as a “joker.” During one-on-one drills, the former Washington Huskies standout was able to get better pressure rushing from an upright position than a three point stance.
Training Camp Coverage
Visit InsideTheIggles.com for training camp coverage, including practice recaps and scouting reports from Lehigh Valley. ITI’s Ryan Messick will be reporting from camp again this afternoon (practice begins at 2:45 P.M.) and tomorrow, with live Twitter feeds. Follow along here at www.insidetheiggles.com or at www.twitter.com/Ryan_Messick