I guess Chip Kelly decided to limit the actual hitting and tackling this past Sunday at the public training camp session held at the Linc.
Probably a wise decision, I suppose. Not that the devastating knee injury to Jeremy Maclin on Saturday had anything to do with hitting or tackling. It did not. Still, there was a squeamish feeling surrounding the Linc on Sunday.
As Jordan Raanan reports,"They didn't do any full-contact drills that involved tackling to the ground. Still, it was a bit more physical than the past couple days. Guys were bumped/knocked to the ground on more than a few occasions. It's clear the players (especially on defense) are ready for some hitting."
Overall, there was still plenty to take away from Sunday's workout, including that rookie quarterback Matt Barkley had a very strong day (albeit with the 3rd unit…)
The Eagles say they are going to look at other positions to pick up the slack for Jeremy Maclin, but somebody has to take Maclin's place at wide receiver. That somebody happens to be Riley Cooper right now. Cooper said he took the first-team "left" wide receiver routes at practice Sunday opposite DeSean Jackson. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound receiver also sees himself being a perfect fit in Kelly's offense.
"It's an offense that needs someone that is big, tough, strong and plays as hard as he can," Cooper said. "This is the offense for me."
Rookie tight end Zach Ertz dropped one of the first passes in his direction on Sunday. And it's not the first time during training camp he's let a pass in his direction hit the ground. In fact, it's becoming apparent that Ertz doesn't have the surest hands on the team—or even among the tight ends. Not even close. It's also worth noting that tight end Jimmy Graham had one of the highest dropped pass percentages in the NFL last year. Graham is a pretty good tight end for the Saints. The Eagles only hope their second-round pick Ertz can be in his class.
Chris Polk had a strong day running and catching the ball out of the backfield during a practice that seemed a bit heavier on the run than previous days, according to Raanan. Polk had a catch in the flat that he turned into a sizeable gain and later broke a run for 40-plus yards, showing impressive burst and speed. It's clear the Eagles think highly of Polk, who missed most of his rookie season with a toe injury. General manager Howie Roseman mentioned the former Washington star when talking about who would pick up the slack for Maclin.
Connor Barwin continues to impress. It's easy to see why the Eagles signed him this offseason. After showing an ability to be a serviceable coverman the previous two days, the former Texans outside linebacker displayed an ability to set the edge on Sunday. Barwin blew up Brent Celek in a 1-on-1 drill between linebackers and tight ends on running plays in what seemed like a modified version of the Oklahoma drill. Barwin fared very well throughout the drill. His versatility is impressive.
Injury Update: Offensive guard Todd Herremans tweaked his right knee; Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon hurt his hamstring; Cornerback Cary Williams (hamstring) and wide receiver Arrelious Benn (knee) missed practice for the second straight day; Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham (foot) was on crutches and in a boot on the sidelines.
Speaking of Matt Barkley—he took 15 reps with the third team unit.
Barkley's most impressive throw was actually his first of the afternoon. On his first rep of live periods, Barkley hit wide receiver Greg Salas with a perfectly-placed deep pass down the right sideline beyond the outstretched arm of cornerback Trevard Lindley. According to Raanan, "it was a feathery throw that was a combination of excellent anticipation, pin-point accuracy and touch."
This came on the heels of two mediocre days for the rookie quarterback. Barkley had completed just 22 of 36 throws during live periods the first two days. He seemed much more in control on Day 3 when he was the most decisive of the Eagles quarterbacks. But remember—he's working against the "3"'s…
As for the QB's working with the "1"'s ?
According to Raanan, Michael Vick's performance was quite similar to his first two days. He completed 9 of 13 passes and looked solid but not spectacular. He still held the ball a little too long for Raanan's liking (and probably Kelly's). Vick again seemed a split-second late, waiting for the receiver to get open rather than anticipating that he's open.
As for Nick Foles, he wasn't quite as sharp as the previous two days. Foles hit on just 10-of-16 passing on an afternoon where the Eagles seemed to concentrate more on running than passing. Foles had completed 88 percent of his passes on the first two days of full-team practice. He completed just 63 percent on Sunday. But again, it begs the question— if you're hoping for an improved pass defense from your team, why would you worry or care that your defense is able to stop Nick Foles?
The Eagles defense does deserve some credit. They seemed to be more physical with the receivers on the third day of training camp.