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August 4 Practice Report: Greene With Envy

Posted Aug 4, 2014

Kevin Greene has been there and done that. In fact, he's done it 160 times. The NFL's third-leading sack artist of all time (with the most sacks of any linebacker), Greene has worked with the Eagles' outside linebackers over the last two days of practice, and will do so through Tuesday's session. In Greene, who is taking a respite from coaching to spend time with his family after working closely with Clay Matthews, among others, with the Green Bay Packers, the likes of Connor Barwin and Marcus Smith II have someone who can help with the tricks of the trade.

"The way he teaches pass rush is invaluable because I can carry it over to my game," said Barwin. "From playing the position for 15 years, he knows the ins and outs, every detail of it. There are things he's taught me the last couple of days that I brought to the field today and I can see that help me, making it easier for me. I'm excited to have him another day and to use what he's talking throughout the season."

So what does it take to be a successful pass rusher from the 3-4 outside linebacker position?

"Always establish the violent, physical nature of the game upfront, from the get-go," Greene explained after practice. "That's the number one thing. Kick his (butt). That's it, everything else is secondary."

Smith II, the Eagles' first-round pick, admitted that turning on the switch to approach the game with violence took some time when he transitioned from quarterback to the defensive side of the ball in college. Now, though, the rookie says he has no problem getting after it.

"Oh yeah, I'm a violent dude," Smith II said with a smile. Greene "has a lot of rushes where he just bulls right over tackles and he shows the right technique to do so. I tried to come out here and implement that today and I'm going to try to put that in my repertoire."

Greene approached defensive coordinator Bill Davis (who coached Greene both with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers) about working with the Eagles for a few days a couple months ago, an idea that head coach Chip Kelly embraced. For his part, Greene has been impressed with the Eagles' group of outside pass rushers, especially Smith II.

"I like them," Greene said. "Every one of them has a good motor and they all seem to be into it mentally and really working hard. Not just them, but everybody. Everybody really seems to be into practice as a team, amped up, really wanting to contribute. Everybody's working hard.

"(Smith II is) athletic as all get-out. No doubt. He brings a lot of skills, big skill-set to the table. So yeah, I'm whispering little sweet-nothings in his year every chance I can … There are a lot of things this young kid Marcus, as athletic as he is, big, as fluid as he is and as physical as he can be when he wants to be, he can be a fine player."

Meanwhile, even as defenses have evolved since Greene retired in 1999, the living legend says the responsibilities for his position remain mostly the same.

"The outside linebacker has to do really everything, and it's been that way for years," he said. "They have to be able to obviously rush like a defensive end that weighs 285. They have to be able to cover like a big, strong safety, you have to be able to have that ability, and they have to be able to play the run at the point of attack. Things like that will always remain consistent about a 3-4 outside linebacker. You have to be all three phases of the game equally as well."

No Need To Break In Case Of Emergency

With Riley Cooper and Jeff Maehl sidelined and Jeremy Maclin missing a part of Monday's training session, quarterback Nick Foles has had the opportunity to get valuable reps with some of the young receivers on the team which could be beneficial during the course of the season.

"It's fun for me because there are situations throughout a season where this could happen," Foles said. "Guys could go down. Guys could be nicked up for games where you're not going to have your number one receiver out there, it could be your number two or your number three, so just to build the chemistry in this situation, having those guys go against our one defense ... it's huge for me because I need to develop that chemistry just in case that does happen. Those guys are doing a great job of making plays and getting in front of the DBs."

Even with the injuries, second-round wide receiver Jordan Matthews continues to work with quarterback Mark Sanchez and the second-team unit as the slot receiver. Foles is not concerned about developing that rapport if Matthews is called into action.

"He's doing a great job with the numbers twos. We'll see what happens. We'll see if they mix it up," Foles said. "Guys are going out there hard. They're running a lot so our receivers will keep mixing it up and I'll be going with everybody."

View From The Stands

  • One of the biggest storylines throughout Training Camp has been the impressive depth of the defensive backfield. At cornerback, Nolan Carroll II has been one of the stars of the summer, while Brandon Boykin continues his ascent and Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams hold down their respective starting positions. Rookie Jaylen Watkins and the dependable Roc Carmichael bring even more depth to the table, but former third-round pick Curtis Marsh has had an impressive Training Camp in his own right. Marsh, who took some reps with the first-team defense on Sunday, continued to make plays on the ball Monday when he dove to break up a pass intended for Will Murphy during 7-on-7s and made another leaping breakup on a downfield heave from Matt Barkley during a two-minute-drill session.
  • Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin did not finish practice after suffering a minor injury, but the returning starter seemed wholly unworried after practice, saying that he was "fine."
  • Mark Sanchez continued to toss the ball to his favorite target Monday, hooking up with Jordan Matthews for a nice completion during a full-team two-minute drill session. 
  • That session, when it was starters against starters, was a decisive victory for the defense, which stopped Nick Foles and the offense even after a neutral-zone infraction penalty. Fletcher Cox recorded a would-be sack of Foles to help halt momentum. 
  • Chip Kelly and Pat Shurmur must have tons of fun scheming ways to deploy LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles this season. During the final team period, McCoy and Sproles were lined up on the field together. McCoy ran a wheel route up the left side of the field and Sproles caught the ball from quarterback Nick Foles underneath on an in-route running from right to left. 
  • Tight end Brent Celek beat safety Malcolm Jenkins on a post route catching a beautifully placed ball from quarterback Nick Foles. On the ensuing play, Celek was the recipient of another Foles pass after the quarterback faked left and came back to the tight end of the right side.
  • Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham made a highlight-reel grab at Sunday's Open Practice and made yet another tough grab during the team period on a throw from quarterback Mark Sanchez.
  • Undrafted rookie Quron Pratt continues to make his fair share of impressive catches, and the quarterbacks seemed to have noticed, as Pratt was targeted several times on the day. During the final session, however, he was denied by a diving Brandon Boykin for an impressive pass breakup.

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