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August 1 Practice Report: The Fine Line

Posted Aug 1, 2014

Training Camp wouldn’t be Training Camp without a few injuries. Knock on wood, though, the Eagles haven’t suffered any serious setbacks during practice thus far, but that doesn’t mean certain players aren’t fighting through their fair share of nicks and bruises.

Wide receiver Riley Cooper, for instance, has been sidelined with a foot injury, from which he is expected to return soon. Cooper was joined Friday by position-mate Jeff Maehl, who had a foot injury of his own. Safety Earl Wolff has stood on the sidelines during practice each of the last two days with soreness, though he said he expects to practice when the team returns to the field on Sunday.

What these smaller injuries highlight, though, is the balance between fighting for your spot on the team and keeping your body in the right state as the season approaches.

“It’s kind of a fine line,” said Maehl. “You want to be healthy, you want to be able to put good tape out there when you’re out there, but if you’re injured or something’s bothering you and it’s not letting you play like you want to, you kind of have to scale back a little bit. We’re just going to evaluate it day by day and I’m sure I’ll be out here pretty soon.”

For Maehl, the stakes are a roster spot in a crowded group of receivers. For Wolff, the battle is for a starting job.

“It’s really tough,” Wolff said. “I know every day I’m out here it’s a blessing to be out here. I come out here with the goal to get better and when I’m out here just watching, I can’t stand it. I hate it. But I try to look at the positives, just try to do what I can, control what I can control. That’s just me making every call, still making calls on the sideline. But it’s tough being out there knowing that I’m competing for a starting job and I can’t put my best film out there. Like I said, I’m feeling better and better. Sunday, I should be fine.”

Nolan Carroll II: Not Good Enough

After notching multiple pass breakups in seemingly each training session, cornerback Nolan Carroll II hauled in his first interception of Training Camp on Friday.

As the former Dolphin makes a push to be a starter, Carroll has been his own toughest critic following the first week.

"Not good enough. It's not good enough right now," said Carroll of his performance to date. "I feel like there's more than I can do. I'm trying to get better every day. I'm trying to prove to these guys here. I'm the new guy so I'm trying to make as many plays as possible to stick out."

What does Carroll think he needs to do more of to impress the coaches?

"I don't have enough picks. That's what it is," Carroll said. "I need to get more picks. I need to continue to get my hands on the ball and make game-changing plays. That's my mindset every day when I come out here."

Carroll is not turning Training Camp into a battle against his fellow position mates. It's actually quite the opposite.

"It's about me helping out the team, helping out the defense, helping out the corners. All of us are trying to get better as a group," Carroll said. "It's not one guy vs. another guy. We're all going out here. We're all being supportive of each other. If one guy makes a play, we support him."

David Molk: It's All About Efficiency

David Molk has been taking the second-team reps at center as Julian Vandervelde has missed practice with a back injury. A seventh-round pick in 2012, Molk played in 12 games as a rookie before a thumb injury landed him on Injured Reserve. Molk came back in 2013 under a new coaching staff and was released by the team at the end of the preseason.

Molk was signed by the Eagles following the 2013 season. At 6-foot-1, 290 pounds, Molk's build is a better fit in Jeff Stoutland's zone blocking scheme.

"It's perfect for me because of my size, my quickness, my strength," Molk said. "This is where I can thrive. In a big, old-school, pro-style offense, that's really not for me. Here with the zone scheme and the fast pace and my conditioning and speed it really is perfect for me."

The 2011 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year at Michigan, Molk was a four-year starter after redshirting in 2007. Molk has appreciated playing behind two talented centers during his career in Nick Hardwick in San Diego and now Jason Kelce with the Eagles.

"Thinking back, for me in college I didn't have anyone to look up to. I was learning on the run. I was the guy from when I was a freshman," he said. "I was kind of always on my own."

Molk's enthusiasm to play in Philadelphia has been heightened by head coach Chip Kelly's approach to training sessions.

"Efficient. Efficient is everything. In a lot of camps, you'll see a lot of wasted time, a lot of downtime that's completely unnecessary, stuff that's completely unnecessary," Molk said. "Here, everything has a point. Everything has a reason. There's not a wasted second in our day."

View From The Stands

  • In a team drill period, the offense worked on being backed up as they started from their own 1-yard line. With Riley Cooper and Jeff Maehl sidelined, Arrelious Benn and Ifeanyi Momah got work with the first-team offense.
  • What will help the Eagles get out of these backed-up situations is Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur's ability to get players isolated in space. Quarterback Nick Foles threw a short pass along the left side to LeSean McCoy to give the offense some breathing room.
  • It's good that Nick Foles can't be sacked, but the defense arguably could have had two safeties during this team period as defensive end Fletcher Cox and linebacker Mychal Kendricks had to pull up short of hitting Foles.
  • And, yes, Eagles fans. Even with the offense at the 1-yard line, wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught a short pass on the final rep of the series and ran it all the way 99 yards for a touchdown.
  • As Bennie Logan continues to work his way back from a hamstring injury, Damion Square took reps as the first-team nose tackle. 
  • Earl Wolff suited up, but did not practice for a second-straight day so Nate Allen was back with the first-team unit alongside Malcolm Jenkins.
  • Tight ends took their turn in pass protection during a one-on-one blocking drill against the outside linebackers. Brent Celek proved, once again, to be the Depends protector of the day, as he did well to hold off both Trent Cole and Brandon Graham. Graham, though, would exact revenge on Emil Igwenagu
  • The linebackers did well throughout the drill, with Josh Kaddu beating Emil Igwenagu inside and Bryan Braman overpowering Blake Annen. Perhaps the most impressive, and promising, rep though came from rookie first-round pick Marcus Smith II, who easily dispatched of veteran James Casey with quick, strong hands. 
  • Smith backed that up later during one-on-one passing drills against Lane Johnson. Smiith II won the initial contact, pushing Johnson back a few steps, before Johnson anchored and held Smith II up, but the rookie’s combination of speed and power was impressive. 
  • Elshewhere during that session, veteran Andrew Gardner held up well on the outside, while Dennis Kelly did well at guard. Evan Mathis also used his vice-grip-like hands to stonewall Damion Square at the point of contact. 
  • Defensive end Vinny Curry was a very efficient pass rusher in 2013 and in the one-on-one period he showcased a variety of moves including a spin move to get after the quarterback against Lane Johnson.

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