Who "won" the joint practice between the Patriots and the Eagles at NovaCare Training Complex in South Philly on Tuesday?
I don't know… Each team took away something to say "yeah!"…
On one side, Tom Brady was tearing apart the Eagles' defense. On the other, Michael Vick and Nick Foles were holding their own.
Vick and Foles each had strong days as the Eagles practiced against the New England Patriots at the NovaCare Complex. They combined for five touchdown tosses on 38 pass attempts in the joint live periods. Each threw a touchdown pass to Riley Cooper, back with the team after a four-day "excused absence."
The Eagles offense looked solid even without star running back LeSean McCoy (knee) practicing. Vick completed 18 of 21 passes. Foles completed 12 of 17 despite three dropped balls, including two from Bryce Brown. He was also fortunate not to have a screen pass intercepted for a touchdown. New England's Aqib Talib dropped the easy interception.
Foles hit DeSean Jackson for a 50-yard touchdown on a deep ball down the right sideline. He later found Cooper on a 20-yard touchdown pass on the left sideline.
Vick also hit Cooper with a 30-yard pass to cap a strong practice.
It was a little different for third-string QB Matt Barkley. He didn't get a snap until late in practice. When he did, Barkley didn't experience the same success either. He threw a bad interception right to New England's Logan Ryan. There was no Eagles player in the area.
Cooper had his best practice of training camp despite working mostly with the second team. The 6-foot-3 receiver went up on one play and caught a touchdown over the head of the Patriots' Alfonzo Dennard. It's clear that the Eagles plan to use Cooper plenty this season. Kelly really seems to like his size and some of the things (blocking) he brings to the team. Cooper's either the second or third-best wide receiver on the roster right now.
• Chris Polk had another strong practice. He runs hard and fast and don't be surprised if he earns a nice chunk of playing time this season, maybe even taking some of the carries and playing time that everybody thinks will fall to Bryce Brown. The Eagles are very high on Polk.
The Eagles don't kick too many field goals at practice. When they have, Alex Henery has struggled. He missed a few short field goals (in the 30-yard range) on Tuesday, with most of his misses coming when he pulled the ball to the left.
The Eagles ran an effective fake field goal during one special teams period against the Patriots. Holder Donnie Jones took the snap and rumbled a good 20 yards for what may have been a touchdown.
Injury Update: Offensive tackles Jason Peters (hamstring), Ed Wang (knee) and Dennis Kelly (back), linebacker Connor Barwin (flu), defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (hamstring), wide receivers David Ball (quad/hand), Damaris Johnson (hamstring) and Arrelious Benn (knee) and running back LeSean McCoy (sore knee). Later it was revealed Benn is out for the season with a torn ACL…
The practice session was predictably intense (even resulting in "ejections" for Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson and Eagles cornerback Cary Williams), and gave coaches and media a good chance to evaluate the roster. Here are five notes from the session:
1. Tom Brady stole the show in Philadelphia, putting on a passing clinic. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald detailed Brady's prolific day breaking it down by drill. In 1 on 1's, Brady's went 20 for 20. In 7 on 7's, Brady went 7 for 7. And in 11 on 11's, Brady went 17 for 21. That's a total of 44 for 48. It's only one practice, but it's amazing to see Brady so sharp at this point in camp.
2. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe highlighted the performance of Patriots tight end Zach Sudfield, saying that he ran "exclusively with the first unit" and caught "everything thrown his way." Sudfield as well as Michael Hoomanawanui have stood out thus far in Patriots camp. And it seems like those two, especially Sudfield, compliment what Rob Gronkowski does very well.
3. From all accounts, Pats cornerback Alfonzo Dennard had a rough day, getting burned several times by Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson. Jimmy Kempski from Bleeding Green Nation noted as much in his coverage of the joint practice. Dennard has had a reasonably good camp, and it's good to see him back after he was banged up pretty badly last week. Still, his down performance is something to note.
4. Another down performance to note: that of Tavon Wilson. Field Yates of ESPN Boston noted that Wilson was burned deep by DeSean Jackson, on a play where he had deep responsibility in the Cover 2. At this point, it's been disappointing to Pats fans that Wilson, who many expected to emerge as a starter this year, hasn't been able to move up the depth chart. Meanwhile, safety counterpart and rookie Duron Harmon has been seeing a bit of increased time with the top groups.
5. Patriots receiver Danny Amendola also had a strong performance, as Nick Underhill of Masslive.com wrote following the session. At this point, he looks like the Patriots unquestioned number one receiver, and it seems as if the Patriots will rely on him heavily in 2013.
Bottom line for the first day of joint practice— Brady shredded us. But Vick and Foles returned fire.
Nothing was truly revealed, though, because of rules limiting any type of real contact upon the quarterbacks.
That will change, of course, when both teams kick it off for real on Friday night at the Linc.