“Live! Live! We’re going live! This is live, baby,” yelled Eagles head coach Andy Reid. There are no better words to hear during a training camp practice, no matter your perspective. After a few days without contact, the players were ready to do some hitting, and the fans didn’t seem to mind watching.
They had plenty of time to take in the full contact play, as the Eagles went “live” for extended periods of time during their morning practice. Philadelphia made it through without any major injuries despite a scare.
On the very first full contact play, Hank Baskett had a lineman fall into his knee at the end of the play. The wide receiver went to the ground with a yell and grabbed his knee, causing a few seconds of quiet concern. Baskett went to the trainers tent with only minor help and returned to the field a few minutes later.
With just four days of practice until Philadelphia opens its preseason schedule with Jacksonville, this was likely the last chance the Birds had to get some full contact play in. Reid took advantage, starting with the offense backed up at its own one yardline. The Eagles top offense was able to get some breathing room on its two plays against the number two defense.
On the initial play, Leonard Weaver pounded it up the middle for around five yards. Then the ball was placed back at the one to reset the situation. On the second try, Weaver again contributed. The fullback helped out right tackle Winston Justice by chipping Brandon Graham, then released and caught a pass in the right flat for a seven yard gain.
Each unit only ran a few plays during the first live session, but later in practice they worked from the offense’s 30 yardline and had more extended play. It was apparent that the offensive line is still struggling in the passing game, as are the quarterbacks – from Kevin Kolb on down. There were a few “sacks” and some poor throws due to pressure, as the offenses struggled to get into a good rhythm again today.
The running game was a strong point though, as LeSean McCoy was able to rip off a 20 yard run and consistently picked up four to five yards up the middle. Eldra Buckley had the most talked about play of practice, as he broke a run into the second level and cornerback Asante Samuel tried to deliver a solid tackle. Buckley lowered his pads and knocked Samuel to the ground with a loud pop as the two collided. Buckley picked up a few more yards before being hauled down, and the normally talkative Samuel was quieted – for about 60 seconds.
The live session ended with another big play, and one of Mike Kafka’s better plays of training camp. The rookie out of Northwestern dropped back and found wideout Jordan Norwood in one-on-one coverage and aired it out. Norwood ran under it for a gain of around forty yards and what might have been more in a game situation, as he had a shot to break away from the tackler and go the distance but the play was blown dead.
After the practice, players said they were craving some contact, as Leonard Weaver mentioned that it’s definitely that time of camp when they want to do some hitting and get into the first preseason game. ”We are so at that point right now,” said Weaver. “We’re ready to get out there and show a little bit of what we’ve been working on.”
Linebacker Stewart Bradley agreed. “It’s going to be fun to hit some different colored jerseys for a change,” Bradley said. ”You have enough contact and enough live drills that by the end you’re ready to play a different team.”
The Eagles will get that chance next Friday night, when Jacksonville visits Lincoln Financial Field. In the meantime, the Birds will have to endure a few more days of what is likely to be light or non-contact practice.
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter was on hand for this morning’s practice, as part of ESPN’s bus tour of all 32 training camps.
So was Sirius, as Adam Schein and Ross Tucker did their show (The Sirius NFL Blitz) from Lehigh, including interviews of several Eagles.
Nate Allen continues to get rave reviews from his peers, as Quintin Mikell was commending him after today’s practice.
Daneil Te’o-Nesheim is being used as a defensive tackle on the top unit in the Nickel package.
Brandon Graham is still the left defensive end on that unit, and is also dropping into coverage at times.
Linebacker Omar Gaither (ankle swelling) and tight end Cornelius Ingram (knee) are added to the list of injured eagles with minor bumps and bruises. Gaither participated in individual workouts, while Ingram had the morning off.
Cornerback Asante Samuel participated in the full practice, his first contact since suffering a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (knee), running back Mike Bell (hamstring), center A.Q. Shipley (ankle) and tight end Martin Rucker (hamstring) put on the pads and participated in practice up until the hitting started, then went to the side for individual workouts. Defensive end Ricky Sapp (knee swelling) worked out on the side.
Center Nick Cole (knee strain), defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (concussion), running back J.J. Arrington (foot strain) and defensive back Macho Harris (hamstring) did not practice.
Guard Todd Herremans (foot), center Jamaal Jackson (knee) and defensive end Victor Abiamiri (pectoral muscle) all remain on the physically unable to perform list and worked out on the side this morning. Linebacker Keenan Clayton was again excused for personal reasons, and there is no official timetable on his return.
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 2:00 P.M.) and next weekend, with live Twitter feeds available during practices. Check back often for updates and follow along at www.twitter.com/Ryan_Messick and www.twitter.com/InsideTheIggles.