Saturday afternoon was the practice everyone had been waiting for. Finally, the Eagles donned the pads and prepared to "go live." The 6,486 fans cheered on their Eagles throughout, and they were rewarded with a practice filled with big plays and standout players.
Let's take you through practice in chronological order ...
--- During the portion of practice when two receivers ran routes against three defenders on one half of the field,
--- The featured matchup during that drill was the dynamic duo of
--- The first play of the wide receiver-defensive back one-on-ones was the best, as Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ran stride-for-stride with DeSean Jackson and intercepted a deep ball directly over his head. Rodgers-Cromartie was the standout player of Saturday's practice, as he broke up around six passes throughout practice. One of Rodgers-Cromartie's strengths is his elite recovery speed. Several times, it appeared that a wide receiver had a step deep on Rodgers-Cromartie, only to have the cornerback make up the ground by the time the ball got there. It's a skill that reflects both Rodgers-Cromartie's athleticism and his understanding of the game.
"It depends on how the ball is thrown," he said. "Nine times out of 10, when a quarterback sees a receiver in front of you like that, he tends to float it and let him run under it. That's giving me the opportunity to make up on him."
We also asked Rodgers-Cromartie about one of the more intriguing aspects of his practice demeanor. Despite being one of the fastest players in the NFL, in between plays Rodgers-Cromartie appears to limp around like he's an old man. That's exactly the case, in fact, Rodgers-Cromartie said.
"That's that old man gimp," he said. "I've had that for a long time. That's going to stick with me."
--- After Rodgers-Cromartie, the next standout player of the day was sixth-round rookie wide receiver
But when the Eagles finally went live, McNutt, taking advantage of
"It was just a screen to the right, (Kafka) came out, one step, it got tipped a little bit, but it still had the velocity to get to me and my linemen and the rest of my teammates did a great job blocking for me downfield and basically got a big gain."
Later in the live session, which focused on third-and-medium situations, McNutt beat
"Any time you're playing around great talent, you obviously have to get better, you have to learn from it. As long as you have your eyes open, you see new things you can do and improve on your game that you see from older vets."
--- Ah yes, the live session. Again, the "special category" was third and medium (between four and six yards), a yardage the Eagles offense converted only 40 percent of the time in 2011 (both run attempts last season were successful). It began with the first offense against the second defense, as Jeremy Maclin drew a pass interference call on
Later, when the first-team offense and second-team defense faced off again, McCoy did well to gain a few first downs on the ground. The other standout play came from
--- As for the first-team defense against the second-team offense, the edge did go to the defense. On an early play, with the defense showing an odd front with the defensive ends standing up,
Lewis actually had a good session though, with two big runs. The first came after shaking
--- After the live session, the offensive and defensive linemen went one on one for the first time this summer in full pads. The feature matchup was probably the two recent Eagles first-round draft picks going up against each other.
--- In the final 11-on-11 (non-live) period, Jenkins saw a lot of time at left defensive end. That was in part because
--- During the third-team session, defensive tackle
--- The standout play of that final team period came on an end around to rookie
"It was a good opportunity for me to run the ball," Johnson said. "I kind of got a little excited, kind of lost my feet when I saw a lot of green grass, just tried to make a big play.
--- Finally, the team ended with a kickoff return drill. The first-team kickoff return unit actually utilized Lewis as the returnman, despite Andy Reid's suggestion that Boykin is the man to beat for that role, with Johnson in the mix as well. The rest of the first-team kickoff return unit was
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