Philadelphia Eagles News

Practice Blog: July 26

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4:25 PM -Practice ends and the first day of full contact is in the books. We will have more features and coverage soon.

4:10 PM -Surprise, surprise, Quintin Demps picks off Kevin Kolb. He's made a habit of that recently.

4:07 PM -Brian Dawkins is still "jacked up" about being on the field apparently as he basically takes off Kevin Curtis's head while the receiver tries to catch a pass over the middle. Dawkins immediately checks to make sure the 1,000-yard receiver is fine, which he is and it's time to do it again.

4:01 PM -Joselio Hanson, Ryan Moats and Jamal Jones are working really hard on special teams. Hanson nearly runs over our camera man, Jones fights through the double team and Moats is encouraged by fans saying, "Welcome back, Moats." He thanks them graciously and gets back to work.* *

3:55 PM -Fullback Luke Lawton fills in for Jon Dorenbos as the second-team long snapper. During his conference call back when the Eagles first traded for him, Lawton said something along the lines of, "I try to make it as difficult as possible for a team to cut me."

3:51 PM -Montae Reagor gets some props from his teammates. Reagor makes a nice swim move to get some penetration, and he disrupts a Kevin Kolb passing play. "Nice move, Montae! Good job, Reag!" Brodrick Bunkley yells.

3:45 PM -Back to the first-team offense and defense. Quintin Mikell denies Reggie Brown on a curl route. He just jumps in and swats a McNabb pass into the ground. Great play.

3:41 PM -Nice play from DeSean Jackson. Kyle Arrington actually sticks with him like a blanket, but Jackson manages to pull in a Kolb pass by jumping above Arrington's coverage. Still don't know how he caught that ball.

3:40 PM -Here's Lorenzo Booker again. Kevin Kolb puts too much on a screen pass, but Booker pulls in the ball with one outstretched hand. Definitely the biggest "ooh, aah" moment from the crowd this afternoon. Booker looks like he could be a dangerous weapon in two-back sets.

3:38 PM -We're getting our first look at the nickel packages. And, as expected, Sheldon Brown is lining up inside. Standing in for Asante Samuel is Lito at left corner, as Joselio Hanson slides into the right corner spot. McNabb tries to thread a pass to Jason Avant on a crossing route, and Brown is having none of it. He undercuts the route and makes a clean, pretty interception.

3:36 PM -McNabb overthrows Kevin Curtis, and Lito Sheppard is right there in coverage, and almost picks the ball off. Those are the ones you get after "shaking some of the rust off," as Andy Reid said today.

3:33 PM -Walking back to the tent I notice a amusement park of sorts set up behind the field. Kids are jumping around on jungle gyms and moon bounces, looks like fun.

3:27 PM -I (Chris) see a fan wearing a cheesesteak hat and it reminds me that I am hungry. Plus, I am debating which is better: the flapping Eagles baseball cap or the cheesesteak head? Any thoughts? Training camp is a true breeding ground for some unique merchandise, that is for sure.

3:24 PM -In a two tight-end set (Brent Celek and Matt Schobel) Kevin Kolb was able to thread the needle to Hank Baskett.

3:19 PM -Horn blows. Time for blitz packages. The defensive linemen drop back into coverage as the linebackers attack the quarterback and do so with decent success. Victor Abiamiri deflects a pass to J.R. Reed for an interception and then Montae Reagor nearly picks one off.

3:11 PM -It's starting to get a bit cloudier. If it rains, I have no idea how that would affect practice today.

3:08 PM -McNabb looks pretty sharp. Other than a ball he slightly underthrows to a streaking Curtis, he makes about 10 good-to-perfect throws in a row. A notable play involves McNabb rolling to his right and hitting L.J. Smith in the flat. Once again, Smith is fine, contrary to a report posted today that he left with cramps. Instead, it was Tra Thomas that left, and Thomas is practicing, too. Nothing to worry about there.

3:06 PM -Once again, Lorenzo Booker plays with the first team, split out wide, opposite Kevin Curtis, with Reggie Brown in the slot. On this play, Booker starts in motion and hooks back behind McNabb, and a reverse is feigned. McNabb hands the ball to Correll Buckhalter, who explodes up the middle. Just a few plays later, the reverse to Booker is executed. If these early, early practices are any sign, Booker will be all over the field this year.

3:04 PM -Until now, the field was considerably less crowded than it was this morning. But here come the fans who obtained sideline passes for today through the blood drive this morning. Luckily for these fans, it's shadier and breezier than it was in the morning. In fact, it might start to rain soon. It's easier to see all the action, not to mention a computer screen. Now, the Eagles move on to group install, and it's always interesting to see some of the packages used.

2:59 PM -The offensive line warm-up requires each guy to pair up with a partner. Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas are the most technically sound, obviously, and after one drill the O-line coach Juan Castillo says, "Did everyone see that? Don't get no better than that right there." Action from the veterans speak louder than Castillo's words I guess. And that is hard to do.

2:55 PM -Team President Joe Banner is on the sideline watching practice.

2:52 PM -The first team backfield during warm-ups is Jason Davis at fullback and Brian Westbrook. The second team has Luke Lawton as the fullback and Correll Buckhalter, running back.

2:51 PM -I'm in the tent, between shifts of running onto the field to get blog fodder, then running back here to update it. With no Internet access on the field itself, I mostly take notes on the field, then come back and make a few entries. Doesn't matter in this particular case, however. I can hear Omar Gaither yelling something all the way from here.

2:45 PM -The horn just sounded for warmups. The team is only in shells this afternoon, leaving the full pads behind. I wouldn't call this practice relaxed, per se, but it'll likely be shorter and obviously will have less contact than this morning's session.

MORNING PRACTICE

10:32 AM - Practice ends. We will be back for the afternoon session. The injury recap: Cornerback Asante Samuel left with a hamstring pull. It was not the one that was injured in the OTAs. Tackle Tra Thomas and fullback Luke Lawton had cramps.

10:11 AM -Joe Mays seems to have a new nickname -"The Headbuster." He's laying on some hits out there. He must have really missed contact after a week's worth of non-contact drills.

10:07 AM -There is absolutely no question that Omar Gaither is the most vocal individual on the practice field. Before many plays he says, "Get nasty, Chris," referring to SAM linebacker Chris Gocong. As the defense walks off the field Gaither says, "Here we go D. Good job. Don't give those country boys nothing."

10:01 AM -Lorenzo Booker was able to elude Trent Cole in the backfield and turn a possible five-yard loss into a two-yard gain.

9:58 AM -J.R. Reed broke up what would have been a highlight-reel touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to Kevin Curtis.

9:52 AM -Here's what we've been waiting for ... 11-on-11 full contact. On the first play, the wide receivers are Kevin Curtis and ... Lorenzo Booker? Yes, it is. Looks like Andy Reid plans to move Booker around in much the same way he does with Brian Westbrook. A few downs later, Booker's on the receiving end of a screen pass, where he makes a cut and picks up about nine yards.

9:48 AM -Chris McPherson introduces me (Joe) to Mike Mamula, former Eagles defensive end, who is in town for Eagles Alumni Day. Mike recalls meeting with Peter King prior to the draft, and taking King to a flea market as he was reporting a story on Mamula for Sports Illustrated. Apparently, King loves flea markets and dropped $50 on stuff.

9:43 AM - In the first seven-on-seven drill, Lito Sheppard lines up at right cornerback with Asante Samuel on the left side. A couple plays later, Reggie Brown fakes out Samuel with a double move, and makes a great play on a ball thrown behind him.

9:38 AM -Pago Togafau picks off a pass, showing off his vertical. He and Joe Mays are battling for the backup middle linebacker spot.

9:33 AM -Trent Cole is just a beast. Plain and simple. He bull rushed through an offensive lineman and a running back to get to the quarterback. If not for the red jersey, Cole would have never stopped.

9:30 AM -Safety Quintin Demps continue to impress, flocking to any pass in his vicinity. Even getting a fingertip on a pass makes a world of difference and on most plays, Demps is able to get much more than that.

9:25 AM -Lorenzo Booker runs the ball outside of the tackles. He is not shy about mixing it up in a crowd but if he can utilize his speed in space, look out.

9:22 AM -Greg Lewis catches a bomb from Kevin Kolb. The play evokes memory's of Lewis's Super Bowl catch and has people begging, pleading for a request slightly greater than autographs ...they want a SUPER BOWL. "I'm tired of waiting," one person says.

9:20 AM -Donovan McNabb's throws, long and short, have been on point. Two 30-plus-yard passes were timed perfectly with Frantz Hardy and Jamal Jones. Shaheer McBride then caught one over the middle. Five is in rhythm with all kinds of patterns and routes. When the situation calls for it, McNabb has tucked the ball and scampered away from linemen. A fan shouts, "McNabb don't pull nothing."* *

9:15 AM -Jason Avant really stood out in the one-on-one drills. His cuts were extremely deceptive and difficult for the corners to react to.

9:13 AM - Some highlights from the defensive back vs. wide receiver drills: Joselio Hanson played nice, physical coverage as he kept up with Kevin Curtis. Hank Baskett pushed off Lito Sheppard and ran a slant, but couldn't hang on to the pass. Reggie Brown shook off Therrian Fontenot and got open over the middle for the catch. Michael Gasperson beat Quintin Mikell on a comeback route, but Q was in place to make a quick tackle - no tackling yet. Jason Avant ran a double move on Nick Graham, broke his ankles (figuratively) and made the catch. Jamal Jones beat Joselio Hanson deep despite nice coverage from Hanson.

The matchup that people got riled up over: DeSean Jackson vs. Brian Dawkins. Jackson shaked and baked his way to get open over the middle for the catch. As soon as you think you have Jackson, it looks like he disappears. Bam Childress can't get off the line against Fontenot. Samuel plays off of Hank Baskett, reads the play nicely and jumps in to deflect the ball out of Baskett's hands. Frantz Hardy beat Graham off a double move.

9:06 AM -The defensive backs make their way to another field to match up with the wideouts, and Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard get huge ovations. Dawkins gives the fans a fist pump, throwing them into an even bigger frenzy.

9:02 AM -Andy Reid is watching the offensive line intently. With Shawn Andrews' absence, it might be the area most under Reid's scrutiny this camp. It's worth keeping an eye on, and I'm sure Reid will address it in his press conference today.

8:55 AM -Reggie Brown is having a really nice day in practice, catching deep balls, ins and flats. He makes a good play on a pass to the sidelines, and he shows off some extravagant footwork for the cheering fans, who get a nice chuckle out of his antics.

8:51 AM -A particularly animated fan is having some fun with Jason Avant. "Jason! Jason! Penn State this year baby! Michigan's going down baby!" Avant, formerly of Michigan, just laughs. The fan seems pretty confident, especially since it would be the first time since 1996 PSU would beat Michigan. I (Joe) should know, as a Penn State alum.

8:49 AM -A Jamal Jones dropped passes draws a big sigh from the crowd. Jones recovers his next time through his drill, getting some cheers in the process.

8:48 AM - Fresh acquisition Cameron Stephenson, a guard, still doesn't have his name on his jersey, No. 77.

8:38 AM - The horn sounded for group install. For the offense, this means a review of the plays that they will execute later on in practice against the defense. The first play is a running play, a handoff to Brian Westbrook. As Westbrook runs through the hole and into the middle of the field, which is wide open, the crowd erupts with applause.

Here are some notes: Lorenzo Booker was put in two-back sets with both Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter. On one play, Westbrook and Booker were lined up together in the backfield but before the snap Booker flexed out to the numbers. On a play with Buckhalter, Booker was flexed out as Buckhalter lined up as a single back. Rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson worked in with the third team. Jason Avant is the first-team "Y" or slot receiver. The Eagles showed some of their spread formations. On one play, Reggie Brown and Hank Baskett were lined up on the right side and Kevin Curtis and Greg Lewis were on the left side.

And never forget about the flea-flicker. It's Andy Reid's assistant Carol Wilson's favorite play. And apparently Reggie Brown will be on the receiving end of them this season. Brown and Kevin Kolb connected together in practice on Friday. On Saturday, it was McNabb hooking up with Brown.

8:30 AM -As I (Joe) head back to the tent to update the blog, I see Eagles president Joe Banner chatting with our own Dave Spadaro. Lots of familiar faces here today.

8:29 AM - Head coach Andy Reid looks on as the tight ends kneel in front of the blocking sled and work on their upper body strength pushing into the sled. Reid then turned his attention to the defensive line drills.

Special teams coordinator Rory Segrest watched the defensive line drills where a ball is placed at the end of a stick. The defensive ends line up and have to move once the ball is moved. This is designed to improve reaction time at the snap of the ball.

8:26 AM -Here it is, the first hitting of the entire season! The linebackers are warming up and pounding each other with a form-tackling drill. Omar Gaither, in particular, is loving it. He's the dead-duck ballcarrier as Chris Gocong lays him out. "Look out! Chris Gocong is bringing the wood today!" Gaither yells. Stewart Bradley is looking really good, too, with a couple clean wrap-ups of rookie Joe Mays.

8:25 AM -The offense moves to another field, and the line starts hitting the sled. Once again, Max Jean-Gilles is standing in for Shawn Andrews at right guard. Andrews' absence from camp was deemed "unexcused" by Andy Reid on Friday.

8:23 AM - The individual portion of practice is underway where each position group works on drills on their own. First, however, the entire offense lines up in a formation in front of a blocking sled and the five offensive linemen and the tight end push the sled at the sound of the snap. Brian Seltzer of 950 ESPN remarked that he can't remember the last time he saw the sled out being pushed. Just to note, the starting offensive line is from left to right: tackle Tra Thomas, guard Todd Herremans, center Jamaal Jackson, right guard Max Jean-Gilles and tackle Jon Runyan.

8:18 AM -Nice applause for Reggie Brown, too. He makes a nice one-handed grab in wide receiver drills.

8:15 AM -The crowd's cheers slowly build into a roar. Donovan McNabb makes his way onto the field, smiling as always. Clearly, the rather large faction of fans that has made it here today is in Donovan's camp. Every pass he completes in warmups gets a cheer, too.

8:11 AM -Practice kicks off a little bit early with Rory Segrest heading up some special teams drills. You can tell the fans are anxious to get things moving.

8:04 AM - Chris McPherson checking in. This is the best morning of the year for me so far, other than the one in January when my son was born. I went to the cafeteria around 6:30 this morning and saw some of the players getting their breakfast before they headed to the field. You can sense the intensity in the air. I saw J.R. Reed and he wasn't in the mood to talk. It could be he's not a morning person, because he's a good guy. But I think it was the fact he knew that this is one of the days that will go on to determine whether he makes this team. We know he's a hard hitter. He's got to show good enough coverage ability and shine on special teams to earn his way onto the 53-man slot. When I pulled into the parking lot at the Varsity House, Trent Cole pulled up in his enormous truck. He didn't get out of the truck right away. He sat in and got himself right with the speakers blaring a rap song to get himself psyched. The offensive and defensive linemen will engage in one-on-one drills against each other and that's when the fights and flare-ups happen.

I want to say a big thank you to Eagles fans who took part in the American Red Cross Blood Drive. Over 1,000 people were there and they plan to hit their goal of at least 1,200. If you can't be here to donate, please check out pleasegiveblood.org or call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE because in the summer time there is an extreme shortage of blood. I need to give soon. I got called out by some of the fans for not giving and deservingly so.

Look, it's been hard to get pumped up for the first few days of rookie and selected vet practices. But talking to the fans in the parking lot, you can tell how whole families are just juiced to be here for camp. The pads go on. There's one live hitting session this morning. It's going to be AWESOME to say the least. I can't wait and after months of speculation; we can now get to business and as one of the fans said on the message boards, "weed out the fat cats."

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