Despite a few injured Eagles still rehabbing, Saturday was a banner day for returning starters for the Eagles as Training Camp resumed.
Tight end Brent Celek (MCL sprain), defensive end Trent Cole (shoulder) and safety Nate Allen (hamstring) all returned to participate fully in practice - a welcome development not only for Eagles fans, but for the players themselves.
"It felt so good," said Celek, who is also coming off surgery in the offseason to repair a sports hernia. "I was excited to be out there with the guys. With all the offseason surgeries that I had, I feel like I'm a totally different player."
"It was great to be back out there hitting again, get back into the mode," said Cole. "I felt like I had a little delay, but that's how it is ... I'm just glad to be back on the field with the guys. I just felt like a caged animal when I was on the sideline in the preseason game because I couldn't get out there. I wanted to play, but you have to be smart with things, let injuries heal and prepare for the season."
Both Celek and Cole have been known to play through pain in the past, so their dual absences caused some frustration for both.
"It's just so lonely when you're working out," said Celek. "You're still working hard but all your boys are out on the field, which is a totally different type of work. Just to be out there with feels good."
For Cole, missing practice was disappointing, as was missing the preseason game. But with the defensive line totaling seven sacks against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, at least there was something to cheer for.
"Oh, man. I love it," said Cole, who classified himself as "99.9 percent" healthy. "I love watching when the D-line's eating like that. Man, it's so fun to watch. I was happy for some of the guys that were out there, trying to make this team."
Cole, Celek and Allen don't have the burden of fighting for roster spots, but their participation in practice is nonetheless essential.
"We didn't play that well, it was obvious," Celek said of the team's performance in the preseason opener. "We still have three, four weeks to go here. Hey, we can all get better now."
Still On The Mend
While it was great to see Allen, Celek and Cole back on the field, there were a number of Eagles sidelined for Saturday's practice which included defensive end Jason Babin (calf), linebacker Jamar Chaney (hamstring), wide receiver Riley Cooper (collarbone), cornerback Cliff Harris (ankle), defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins (hamstring), running back Dion Lewis (hamstring), wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (hamstring), cornerback Curtis Marsh (hamstring), linebacker Casey Matthews (ankle) and guard Brandon Washington (concussion).
Phillip Hunt was rewarded for his two-sack performance Thursday with the chance to line up at left defensive end.
"I just have to come out here and work hard on focusing every day," Hunt said. "I want to keep my mind focused on my technique, and be focused on every play, day in and day out. I'll get better each day and each game, and hopefully pretty soon, I could get more reps."
A more intriguing move up the depth chart was made by rookie free agent Ryan Rau, who worked as the second-team middle linebacker with Matthews and Chaney sidelined.
Back To Work
In the first practice following Thursday's preseason game, here was a script of what the team worked on:
- Team blitz drill
- Wide receiver vs. defensive back 1-on-1's
- Special CAT (third-and-long)
- Field Goal
- Offensive line vs. defensive line
- Move The Ball
The team was in full pads, but there was no tackling to the ground.
Here are some highlights:
Team Blitz Drill
A good sign seeing Allen back on the field and he was utilized as a blitzer immediately on the first play of the drill. However, quarterback Michael Vick deftly delivered the ball to running back LeSean McCoy.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and Hunt stunted on a blitz and it left Hunt with a wide open lane to the quarterback.
The first play for the second-team offense looked very similar to a touchdown for the Eagles from Thursday night. Quarterback Nick Foles aired the ball down the left side of the field for wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. However, cornerback Brandon Hughes broke up the pass.
The Eagles focused on third-and-long situations, which was a problem early in Thursday's game against the Steelers.
Wide receiver Jason Avant earned a first down on the first two reps for the first-team offense.
Cornerback Trevard Lindley perfectly read a pass from Foles intended for wide receiver Marvin McNutt. However, Lindley didn't get to the ball in time and McNutt caught the pass along the sideline and was off to the races.
Rau, earning reps with the second team, got a sack.
Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe did a good job snuffing out a screen pass for running back Bryce Brown.
On back-to-back snaps, Hunt recorded a sack.
Move The Ball Drill
The play of the day was a play-action pass from Vick to wide receiver DeSean Jackson for a 42-yard gain. Jackson stretched out to beat cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the play.
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