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July 27 Practice Report: Friendly Fire

Posted Jul 27, 2014

Under hot and humid conditions, the Eagles conducted their second training session of this year's Training Camp on Sunday at the NovaCare Complex. The intensity on the field was also heated as the first scuffle of this year's Training Camp took place between linebacker Trent Cole and running back LeSean McCoy during a 7-on-7 drill. Cole was responsible for covering McCoy out of the backfield and gave the running back a shove, which McCoy did not take kindly to.

"The whole camp so far, he's been touching me a little bit too much. I'm trying to let him know it's OK if you can cover me," McCoy said with a smile. "It's OK."

Cole laughed off the episode as well. Linebacker Brandon Graham noted that Cole and McCoy are always "talking back and forth."

"It was all fun," Graham said. "Trent, T-Cole, gave him a little nudge, (McCoy) came back and tried to get him again. T-Cole just lifted him and boom. Next thing you know, they're on the ground scuffling."

How The Eagles' Tight Ends Create Stress

As the Eagles offense worked on the zone read and run plays during team drills on Sunday, the usage of the tight ends is something to note. The Eagles showcased a look with Brent Celek lined up in the slot to the right of the formation. Second-year tight end Zach Ertz was flexed out wide of Celek. This gives the Eagles a lot of flexibility with the ability to run wide with two good-sized blockers paving the way or to move the ball vertically thanks to the tight ends' pass-catching ability.

"All of our tight ends are very versatile in myself, Brent and James (Casey). We can all do different things and excel at different things. I think that's what makes us very dangerous, especially in the run and the pass game," Ertz said. "I think when you have the three of us out there - Brent in the slot and me out wide – there are a lot of mismatches."

Ertz demonstrated how dangerous his size can be as he used his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame to shield out cornerback Curtis Marsh and catch a pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez later during a 7-on-7 drill.

"I think just growing up playing basketball," Ertz said. "It's the same thing as going up for a rebound, using your body. You see that's how it is now with a lot of tight ends."

Barkley, Sanchez Deliver Highlights

There's no question who the Eagles' starting quarterback is, but the backup jobs are undecided as Matt Barkley, G.J. Kinne and Mark Sanchez battle for the spots on the depth chart behind Nick Foles. In a 7-on-7 drill, Barkley and Sanchez tried to one-up each other with impressive throws.

Barkley showed deft touch on a completion to wide receiver Damaris Johnson down the left side of the field in between safety Davon Morgan and cornerback Jaylen Watkins. Sanchez responded with a pass deep down the right seam for wide receiver Jordan Matthews to beat two defensive backs.

In the final team drill, Barkley delivered another beauty deep down the left sideline for rookie wide receiver Kadron Boone, who scored the would-be touchdown.

"Matt threw a perfect ball and I just caught it in stride," Boone said.

Boone signed with the Eagles as a rookie free agent following the 2014 NFL Draft. Playing at LSU behind first-round pick Odell Beckham and second-round pick Jarvis Landry, Boone finished his Tigers career with 44 receptions for 611 yards and eight touchdowns. The 6-foot, 202-pound Boone is used to making the most of limited opportunities.

"That was the situation for me in my last year. We had two good receivers who went early in the draft. One thing that I was always taught was when your number is called, be ready to make a play," Boone said.

"I just brought the same mentality over. If I get five reps, I'm going to make the most of those five reps. The one thing about here is you're going to get a lot of reps. With those reps, I just make sure I do what I'm supposed to do. And if it's not catching the ball, then it's being where I'm supposed to be. Make sure I'm on my block, focusing on the little things."

Having A Ball

During the special teams drills, the emphasis was on punt returns. Five players – Riley Cooper, Damaris Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews and Darren Sproles – took part and, to make fielding the punts tougher, the players had to hold a tennis ball in each hand. This forces the players to cradle the ball into their arms and not simply catch it with their hands.

The returners also worked on fielding short punts and the split-second decision-making that goes into these plays which, if handled poorly, could be disastrous. On one return, Matthews tried to field the ball after it bounced, only to muff the catch. Running backs coach Duce Staley, who was overseeing the returners on the drill, signaled to Matthews that he needs to get out of the way next time.

It is evident to see during this drill why Sproles has caught at least 70 passes in each of the past three seasons. He has naturally strong hands and smothers the ball giving it no room to move.

Welcome To The NFL, Rookie!

Seventh-round pick Beau Allen worked in with the first-team defense at nose tackle on Sunday, with Bennie Logan still working his way back from a slight hamstring injury. The 6-foot-2, 333-pound Allen's reward was going up against the All-Pro tandem of tackle Jason Peters and guard Evan Mathis.

"That's a great offensive line," Allen said. "I got a double-team today from J.P. and Mathis. It's not going to get much better than that. Obviously those are vets who know their business."

Allen set a school record at Wisconsin having played in 54 career games over his four years with the Badgers. While there are some differences, Allen's experience playing in the Badgers' 3-4 scheme has aided with his transition to the NFL.

"The general idea of the 3-4 is the same. You use big D-linemen to kind of plug up the inside and take care of those inside gaps and then get the ball outside. You just have to know your role," said Allen, channeling The Rock. "It's not really about being selfish or unselfish. I'm a 330-pound nose guard. I think I know and I'm aware of myself and what that means and I think you have to know what the coaches are asking you to do. We do a lot of stuff with the nose and the ends where you loop and you do different stunts. Not to get too technical, but they want guys who are big and athletic as well."

A Little Bit Of This And That

• Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin isn't the only player in his position group bouncing back from a torn ACL. Arrelious Benn also missed the entirety of the 2013 season after tearing an ACL during Training Camp. Benn, like Maclin, has looked fluid in his return to action. During one rep in 7-on-7 drills, Benn hauled in a pass along the right sideline from quarterback Mark Sanchez and nimbly tip-toed in bounds to make the grab.

• Rookie third-round pick Josh Huff showed he has left college football behind when he, too, made an impressive catch along the sideline while keeping both feet in bounds, rather than the one foot required in the NCAA.

• Cornerback Brandon Boykin is known for his leaping ability, but even he was outdone by rookie wide receiver Quron Pratt in a rep during 7-on-7s as the 5-foot-11 rookie free agent from Rutgers fully extended himself to bring in a pass from quarterback G.J. Kinne in front of the sultan of the slot.

• Linebacker Mychal Kendricks made the breakup of the day, when he dove several yards to bat away a pass intended for Darren Sproles over the middle during a 7-on-7 rep.  

• Cornerback Roc Carmichael had a nice pass breakup on a pass intended for wide receiver Brad Smith during 7-on-7s.

• Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham did a good job holding onto a pass from Mark Sanchez off of a comeback route in 7-on-7s despite good coverage from cornerback Bradley Fletcher.

• Depth chart update: Who is the backup long snapper to Jon Dorenbos? Brent Celek honed his long snapping skills during a special teams period. While it's always good to have an insurance policy, Dorenbos has played in all 117 regular season and eight playoff games since joining the Eagles midway through the 2006 season. Whither James Winchester?

• Don't forget that Monday's open practice not only marks the first chance for fans to see the new and improved Lincoln Financial Field, but it's also the first time the Eagles will be in pads this season. First-round pick Marcus Smith II, for one, can't wait.

"When you put the pads on its always better, because you have better things to strike," he said. "We'll have pads on tomorrow so I can show them what I can do physically."

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