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August 3 Practice Report: Secondary Matters

Posted Aug 3, 2014

Mental Day For Cary Williams

Cornerback Cary Williams told reporters on Friday what he thought of the Patriots and the upcoming joint practices in New England. Needless to say, he’s not a fan. When Williams was watching Sunday's training session from the sideline, there was speculation that it was punishment for the remarks made towards the Patriots.

Williams explained after the training session that was not the case.

"No. It had nothing to do with that," Williams said. "I haven't even discussed anything with Chip (Kelly). I don't think he's shown any agreement or disagreement with what I said."

Williams went through individual drills and claimed that he had "minor soreness" in his leg which prevented him from fully participating in the workout.

"I couldn't practice up to the standards of what Chip holds nor to myself. I couldn't do that," said Williams, who hopes to be back on the field Monday. "I didn't want to let my teammates down. I know those guys work hard. I just couldn't go."

Since he was not able to train with his teammates, Williams used the time to go through the plays in his mind so that he would get something out of the workout.

"I was going through my alignment, my assignment, my responsibilities. I wanted to have a mental day," Williams said. "I wanted the mental aspect just so I could go out there whenever I'm ready, I'll be mentally prepared and the physical will just be natural. I just wanted to put myself in those positions, in those predicaments, imagining or envisioning myself doing those things and doing my responsibilities and when the time comes I'll be ready. There's really no days off in this business. Today was no different to me."

In Williams' absence, the Eagles used Brandon Boykin and Nolan Carroll II as the first-team cornerbacks.

Wolff Returns With First-Team Unit

After missing the past two training sessions due to knee soreness, safety Earl Wolff returned to action and lined up alongside Malcolm Jenkins with the first-team unit on Sunday.

"I felt really good today. After I got warm, my goal was to go out there and make plays, take advantage of the opportunity that I got. I felt that I did that," Wolff said.

Wolff smiled and remarked "possibly" when asked if the injury was in the same knee that cost him six games, including playoffs, last season. Wolff is confident that this will not be a nagging, reoccurring injury.

"I need that full range of motion because all I know is one speed. I don't know how to play slow. That's not how I play. I play full speed all of the time," Wolff said. "If I can't play that game, then I really can't play like I know to play."

Wolff has also been encouraged by his progress working with Jenkins.

"I feel like just being out there, playing my game, just playing full speed, getting the call, lining up and playing; I have a lot more confidence than I did last year," Wolff said. "I'm really excited to see what I'm going to do in the preseason."

Najee's Goode Opportunity

The point has been belabored plenty throughout Training Camp, but middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans played the most snaps of any defensive player in the NFL last season. There are a few ways in which the team is expected to lighten Ryans' load in 2014. First, there are expected to be more sub-packages, thanks to a newly deep secondary. But Bill Davis may also dip into his middle linebacker depth to help ease the wear and tear on Ryans. That's where Najee Goode comes in.

Over the last few days of Training Camp, Goode has rotated in with the first-team defense on occasion. As head coach Chip Kelly explains, though, that may be more of a function of evaluation than a permanent plan for the defense.

"DeMeco is going to be our starting linebacker on day one so we don't know as much about Najee," Kelly said Sunday. "I think one of the things that you struggle with from an evaluation standpoint and we spent a lot of time on it yesterday as a staff and personnel meetings is, kid is ripping it up against the threes but what's he going to do against the 1s.

"You obviously have two good linebackers in Mychal (Kendricks) and DeMeco but where is our depth behind them and who is it going to be? Najee has done a really good job when he's been put in those situations so we are starting to get a little bit more comfortable with him. But it's not like, ‘Hey, let's get DeMeco off the field because we are afraid of reps for him.' What we are really trying to do is see how some of those players do when they get a chance to go with the ones."

Goode, 24, joined the Eagles at the start of the 2013 regular season after he was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He would become the top backup at inside linebacker and played extensively in two games, starting one.

"Every opportunity you get, you have to take it," Goode said. "On our defense right now, we have good leaders and we have guys who are helping each other out, so if it's me and (Kendricks) out there or me and DeMeco (Ryans) out there, we talk to each other and when the ball comes out, we have to make a play on it."

Goode also explained why he's more comfortable in his first Training Camp with the Eagles.

"Just getting the chemistry with the guys, doing little things, talking, communicating and stuff like that," he said. "Now we know the tendencies of the guys we play with, when we get in there, guys like Ced (Thornton) and Trent (Cole) and (Kendricks) and DeMeco, we can play to what our strengths are. Like today, we were able to get our hands on a few balls and were able to knock down a few passes. Just come out here and work on that every day is the main goal."

View From The Press Box

  • Nearly 25,000 fans were in attendance for Sunday's Open Practice.
  • The final play of the training session was arguably the best as quarterback Nick Foles connected with tight end Brent Celek despite tight coverage from linebacker Connor Barwin for a touchdown in the right corner of the end zone.
  • Wide receiver Josh Huff got past cornerback Roc Carmichael down the left sideline and quarterback Mark Sanchez threaded the ball between Carmichael and safety Nate Allen for an amazing completion inside the 5-yard line. 
  • With Riley Cooper and Jeff Maehl still sidelined, Ifeanyi Momah continues to get valuable outside reps with the first-team offense. Momah made a nice leaping reception over Roc Carmichael during a 2-on-3 session and did it again over Brandon Boykin in 1-on-1s. The 6-foot-7 receiver has come a long way since last summer.
  • Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham hauled in a pass from Matt Barkley during the 7-on-7 period, beating out Curtis Marsh for a touchdown and the leaping grab of the day.
  • During group individuals, quarterback G.J. Kinne beat cornerback Bradley Fletcher with a perfectly timed back-shoulder throw to Will Murphy along the right sideline.
  • In a 7-on-7 period, quarterback Mark Sanchez continued his chemistry with wide receiver Jordan Matthews with a beautiful teardrop pass on a crossing route with linebacker Jason Phillips trailing in coverage.
  • A baseball player in high school, quarterback Mark Sanchez showcased the best slide by an Eagles quarterback in recent memory on the last play of his series during a team period.
  • Cornerback Curtis Marsh beat wide receiver Josh Huff for an impressive leaping interception of Nick Foles during a 1-on-1 period.
  • Wide receiver Quron Pratt made an amazing grab from G.J. Kinne as he came back towards the quarterback down the left sideline and fully extended himself to make the catch in a 1-on-1 drill.
  • Running back Darren Sproles is deadly on the wheel route. He cruised up the right sideline past linebacker Bryan Braman for the easy grab in a 7-on-7 period.
  • Though he spent most of the day working with the second-team defense (Brandon Boykin, Nolan Carroll II and Curtis Marsh worked with the ones), cornerback Bradley Fletcher made a nice read on Nick Foles, jumping in front of Arrelious Benn to intercept a pass in 7-on-7s.

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