Eagles Practice Recap: Sam Bradford, Josh Huff put on a show


The hype that has surrounded the Philadelphia Eagles since the start of training camp has been almost palpable, yet, I hadn’t gotten a chance to see the team in action until today, the second (and final) practice open to the public. After getting a chance to see the new-look Eagles in action, it’s easy to understand why the reports coming out of camp have been so optimistic. Sam Bradford, Josh Huff, Jordan Matthews, headlined what was a “banner” day for the Eagles and the 43,000 fans in attendance.

First up the Eagles spent some time working out the special teams unit.

Cody Parkey booted a few impressive field goals, the furthest being a crisp 60-yarder with room to spare. Afterwards, the special-teamers donned their fluorescent orange caps and trotted out to work on kick returns/coverages. In this exercise, Parkey was equally as impressive, hitting several balls in a row out of the back of the end zone. Since the kicks were un-fieldable, an assistant would toss a ball to the return man so that the unit wouldn’t have to reset and waste a rep.

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  • On one return, Raheem Mostert found some room for a solid gain, but was popped by Riley Cooper and fell to the ground, drawing a collective “OOOH” and subsequent cringe from the crowd. Mostert hopped right back up, however, and trotted off the field.

    During drills, Connor Barwin is introduced over the PA to the fans, and is given a huge ovation. Barwin has quickly become a fan-favorite in Philadelphia.

    Soon after, Silento’s “Watch Me” plays over the loud speakers, and Josh Huff throws the “whip” at mid field. His teammates are amused, and a coach pats Huff on the Helmet and laughs as he transitions to the next drill. Once Huff establishes himself, I have a feeling that he’ll be a fan-favorite as well.

    The Eagles are now doing some one-on-one’s with the WRs matching up against the defensive backs, and the RBs mixing in here and there. The offensive skill players get the best of the defense here, as there are a number of impressive plays. Two such plays go to Ryan Mathews, who roasts a linebacker on a wheel route but Bradford is unable to connect, leading Mathews a bit too far. A few plays later, Bradford is vindicated when he connects with Mathews on a very similar play for 6. Josh Huff catches a long touchdown from Bradford as he rotates in on the far side of the field. This isn’t the last you’ll hear of Huff, who had an all around fantastic day.

    Note: As I write this I’m realizing that I forgot to mention a small issue that I had identifying the defensive players. I was up high and the players were wearing white uniforms with camouflage numbers; a nice gesture to the troops in attendance, but it was nearly impossible to make out the numbers from a distance. The only time I could clearly tell what player was in coverage was when it was announced over the loud speaker. Apologies.

    As the QBs rotate in, I’m finally able to get a good look at he group, and I came away fairly impressed.

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    Bradford is “as advertised,” and flashed throughout the day. Mechanically speaking, I was somewhat concerned with how Bradford would rebound after two devastating injuries, but his mechanics looked air-tight from where I was sitting. Last week, Louis Riddick attended practice and commented on Bradford’s ability to transition his weight and deliver the ball. After watching him today, that doesn’t appear to be an issue. Bradford isn’t ridiculously explosive in his lower half, but he does a good job of driving/rotating while maintaining balance. His body control and awareness in this regard is very good, and his natural arm slot and clean delivery allow him to get the requisite zip/touch that he needs on his passes. In other words, I don’t think Bradford has any mechanical limitations as a pocket passer.

    Where Bradford does have an issue, however, is when he breaks the pocket and has to make plays on the move. Bradford’s tentativeness when moving outside of the pocket was apparent, and he looked very uncomfortable throwing on the run. Whether this issue will persist and become a problem in the regular season is tough to say, however, as of right now it’s an issue that he and the staff will have to work through.

    Sanchez looked slightly better than he did in 2014, particularly in throwing the ball downfield. While he’s nowhere near as fluid as Bradford, he generated more torque and arm speed today than what I’ve seen in that past.

    During the first period of 7-on-7s, Bradford hits a few short passes, and then a seam route to rookie Justin Tukes. Sanchez, finds Zach Ertz and Trey Burton on a series of come-backers and seam routes, and  Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow are largely up and down, as Tebow launches a ball into the fly swatter, and later floats a deep ball that falls short of its target. Barkley throws a ball behind his receiver that is tipped and picked off.

    Shortly after the team moves on to 11-on-11s and, of course, Sam Bradford is up first with the ones. The first play is a hand off to DeMarco Murray, and his burst is impressive. Murray gets skinny in a hurry and finds his hole. The defenders are limited in how aggressive they can be, as they can’t tackle to the ground, however, Murray still flashes the ability that made him the league’s leading rusher in 2014.

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    A couple of runs later, Bradford executes a good play-fake and unleashes a deep ball for Agholor — who mixed in with the ones. The placement is pretty good, but Byron Maxwell does an excellent job of closing and gets his hand on the ball. Maxwell’s name was called several times today, and seemed impressive when I could pick him out.

    Ryan Mathews gets some reps with the next group. On one play, Mathews plants, jukes, and bounces the ball to the outside for a big gain. Mathews looked explosive today, running with great pad height. He’s very physical.

    Sanchez tosses a screen to Darren Sproles who gets a couple of good blocks out on the perimeter, and slips by for a solid gain. Then, two plays later, Sanchez throws a rope to rookie TE Andrew Gleichert, who made a nice grab on the near sideline. Sanchez runs down to give Gleichert a high five after the play.

    Tebow throws a nice ball, breaking the pocket and finding UDFA WR John Harris on the near sideline. It was a good display of athleticism and accuracy by Tebow, who had a decent day.

    In a redzone drill, Zach Ertz makes a tremendous diving grab for a TD, two plays after committing a drop. Ertz had a few miscues today, but he was crisp in and out of his breaks. He also came close to making a ridiculous circus grab that would’ve been the play of the day.

    Later, Bradford throws a short sideline pass to Darren Sproles who absolutely levels slot corner, Jacorey Shepherd. I can’t stress enough how ugly the hit looked, as Shepherd fell awkwardly to the ground and his teammates rushed over. Practice stalled as the dreaded cart came out to pick up the injured rookie, who fell down when he tried to put weight on his knee. I wish the best for Shepherd, but ultimately fear the worst.

    Back to 11-on-11s, Bradford has an uneven series as he misses a back shoulder throw to Huff. Shortly after, Bradford drops back and finds Huff — who jumps about 10 feet (estimated), and contorts his body to make a freak-show catch — for the Touchdown.

    Huff had a number of big plays on the day, and looks to be on the verge of a break out campaign.

    On Sanchez’s possession, he throws a dart to Ertz who reels it in to extend the drive. Then, follows that up with a nice swing pass to Mathews in the flat, who lowers his pads to skirt in for the touchdown.

    A couple of drives later, Sanchez takes the field again and shows good footwork while navigating and climbing the pocket. He threads the needle to Cooper, but Nolan Carroll makes an athletic play and gets his hands on the ball. Overall, a decent day for Sanchez.

    Bradford takes the field one last time and puts on a brilliant display, going 5 of 5 and driving the length of the field for a touchdown. On the first throw Bradford dropped an absolute dime, hitting Jordan Matthews — who was pretty well covered — outside the numbers. Matthews made a great adjustment to come down with the contested pass. Bradford went on to hit Matthews twice more, before connecting with Cooper on a shallow crosser for the Touchdown. Bradford had a very efficient day, and continues to put his impressive skill on display. I’m anxious to see Bradford in preseason action.

    That’s it for today, stay tuned for more training camp updates in the coming days.

    Next: Eagles UDFAs Rice, Mostert Looking To Make Impact

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