- The first weekend of Training Camp is in the books. In this Monday edition of the Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft, the emphasis in policing hits with the helmet is at the forefront as the team will have its first live-tackling session on Tuesday following a day off. Also, highlights from the first four days of Training Camp and also learn how the team cools off after a long, hot practice.
1. Three Perspectives On The Revised Use Of Helmet Rule
The NFL expanded the penalties for all players - not just defenders - who lower their head to initiate and make contact with an opponent using the helmet. A player who violates this rule will be penalized 15 yards and potentially ejected from the game. NFL referees have been at Eagles Training Camp to work with the players on the field and discuss all of the rule changes for the 2018 season. Here are three different viewpoints on how this could impact the game.
First, head coach Doug Pederson.
"It's so fast and a lot of contact and stuff. But, listen, basically, general rule is just don't drop your head. As a ball carrier, as a defender, and in all things that we were taught as young players and playing football is keep your head up. See what you hit," he said. "So, kind of getting back to that and just don't - can't be in a straight linear position, obviously. Can't launch yourself. They're trying to eliminate those types of plays and try to get the head out of the game."
Pederson said the NFL has done a good job in communicating the changes and it is up to the coaches to teach the rules.
Second, Malcolm Jenkins. His hit on Brandin Cooks in the Super Bowl that resulted in the Patriots' wide receiver leaving with a concussion is one of the plays that even some of the officials who visited with the players are unsure of how it would be called. To me, it was not a flag then and it wouldn't be a flag now because he leaned with the shoulder.
"I'm going to make that play 10 times out of 10. If it's a flag, it's a flag," Jenkins told ESPN in the locker room on Sunday. "You can't slow yourself down thinking about rules in a split second. The game happens really, really fast, faster than the rules, I think, take account for, but I won't let it affect the way I play."
How about a Hall of Fame safety in Brian Dawkins, who was known for punishing ball carriers with vicious hits in his career.
"If you're going to do it, just do it. If you're taking the helmet out, do it both ways, and make it consistent that way so everybody knows the rules, hopefully they'll have a fine system in place instead of just arbitrarily saying, 'OK, we're going to fine you this much, we're going to fine them that much.' That's one of the most frustrating things when it comes to being a football player, it's that it's arbitrary the way they go about giving some of the penalties and fines and stuff," he said.
"That is the way it is going. As much as you whine about it, as much as players complain about it, that's the way that they're going with it. I understand some of it. It's just frustrating for me when you see a guy, you can see he is moving his head out of the target zone, you can see he's making an effort, but then the receiver, I've said this for years even when I was playing, that when if you don't see me coming and at the last minute you see someone next to you, the first thing that you do is duck, or you cover yourself, you cover your body, you lower your head. So, if the receiver does that, and I already as a defender have gone in, you can see that if he did not lower his head, my target would have been right on point to hit him where I'm supposed to hit him, but he lowered his head, and it becomes helmet to helmet then I still get fined for that? That's what frustrating to me, that you want me to be 100 percent accurate on a moving target in football."
2. Spuds' Camp Notebook: Carson Wentz Update
Dave Spadaro's latest On the Inside column is an emptying-out of the notebook from the first four days of Training Camp. He leads off with a look at how quarterback Carson Wentz has performed in his most extensive action since injuring his knee last December.
"The best place to start is at the quarterback position, where the Eagles have a great situation. Carson Wentz looks great. His footwork is superb, he's playing with a super-high level of confidence, and he's throwing the ball accurately and with authority. He's planting and throwing and Wentz appears to be really trusting that plant leg. When he rolls out, he does so confidently," Spadaro wrote. "To the educated eye, even, Wentz looks remarkably good. Now it's up to the medical team. Once Wentz is cleared for contact – his final hurdle – he's going to be full go. Until then, he's going to keep working hard, developing a rapport with his new receivers, and wait for the go ahead."
3. Hottest - Or Coolest - Camp Debate Right Now?
It's not about a player, position battle, or roster spot. It's about the most popular flavor of Rita's Italian Ice - I admit I thought it was just Rita's Water Ice until Sunday - at Eagles Camp. There is a stand near the on-field entrance for fans with four flavors. Find out which one is the biggest hit with the players.
4. Fletcher Cox Continues To Dominate
Fran Duffy and I had plenty of takeaways from Sunday's practice at the NovaCare Complex, but Fran is quite impressed with how the All-Pro defensive tackle has performed early in camp.
"The defense took two plays in a row, as Rodney McLeod came away with an acrobatic pass breakup on the left side of the field before Fletcher Cox exploded into the backfield, beating (Chance) Warmack on a run play and forcing Corey Clement to cut back to the other side. It would have surely been a tackle for loss for Cox, who looked dominant when given the chance on Sunday morning," Duffy wrote.
Fran also cited a play from O-line vs. D-line 1-on-1 drills where Cox evoked memories of the great Reggie White.
5. For Mike Wallace, Pederson Is As Good As Advertised
Graham Foley also wrote about Mike Wallace's decision to join the Eagles in the offseason. The 10-year veteran is in search of the elusive Super Bowl crown. Wallace made to the championship game in his second season with the Steelers. Here's Wallace on Coach Pederson:
The biggest attraction for Wallace, however, was head coach Doug Pederson. Wallace said watching the Eagles last season in the playoffs, coupled with encouragement from friends and former teammates on the Eagles like Wentz, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, made him want to play in Philadelphia that much more.
So far, Wallace said Pederson has lived up to his expectations.
"When you watch from afar, you see the guys on TV in the Super Bowl, just the energy they have, the energy Doug had, it just seemed like those guys wanted to play for him and not everybody wants to play for their coach," Wallace said. "Everyone was just telling me how good it was, so I was like, 'Let's do it.'"
6. It Must Have Been The Car
Congrats to NASCAR driver Alex Bowman, who piloted the No. 88 car adorned in midnight green saluting the Axalta All-Pro Teachers program, to a career-best third-place finish at Pocono on Sunday.