Thursday night's preseason opener against Baltimore will give us our first chance to see Juan Castillo call a game as the new defensive coordinator.
On Sunday morning, head coach Andy Reid tried to create a game-like atmosphere in practice by having Castillo and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg send plays into the huddle through a radio headset the same way they will have to this Thursday.
"They've had them out here three times so far in this camp and working with them from the sideline with substitutions, play calls and there's no scripts on those particular plays. I'm moving the ball where I want it to be moved and they have to put the call in, both him and Marty," Reid said. "It's actually practice for the coaches on actual game situation. It's as close as I can get it to game situation."
HARRIS THE MAN AT RIGHT TACKLE?
With Winston Justice on the Physically Unable to Perform list after an offseason knee procedure, the Eagles have allowed four players to take the first-team reps at the right tackle position - King Dunlap, Ryan Harris, Austin Howard and Fenuki Tupou.
Harris signed a one-year deal with the team on August 2 after spending his first four NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos. Injuries hampered what had the makings of a brilliant career with the Broncos. In 2008, Harris earned All-Pro honors from Peter King of Sports Illustrated as he was part of a line that gave up just 12 sacks all season. However, Harris has missed 13 games over the past two seasons.
In the last two days of practice, Harris has taken the first-team reps at right tackle. Is he the front-runner for the job?
"Our new guy got in there for two days in a row, so I guess that's saying something," Reid said. "Everybody kind of got a shot at that thing. We'll just see, see how it goes. I think he's smart and tough. He's getting used to the techniques we're asking him to do. Like I said he's lasted two days in there so that's a plus."
MATTHEWS STILL IN THE MIDDLE
With all of the changes on defense during the free agency period, the linebacker position remains relatively intact. Yes, the Eagles added three players in the draft and re-signed veteran Akeem Jordan, but there have been no earth-shaking moves as with the other positions on that side of the line of scrimmage.
Fourth-round draft pick Casey Matthews has been the first-team middle linebacker since the beginning of camp despite only getting the playbook a day before players were scheduled to report.
"(Defensive coordinator) Juan (Castillo) has thrown a lot of things at him. He's able to handle, he's able to spit it out, it looks like he has a good relationship with (Jamar) Chaney and (Moise) Fokou, and he's competing for that spot. There are some other guys that are good football players too, but he's gone in there and he's handling his own," head coach Andy Reid said. "Are there things he needs to work on? Absolutely, absolutely, but he's willing to work hard, he plays aggressive, and he plays smart."
Even though he's the sixth member of his family to play in the NFL, Reid said that he had to put the namesake aside and see if Matthews could play for real.
"You knew coming out that he was a smart kid, talking to different people that had the opportunity to coach him. You've got to put aside, a little bit, the pedigree and make sure you evaluate the player," Reid said. "His dad, and his grandfather, and uncle, and everybody's done well but that doesn't necessarily mean that the player is going to do well, that next kid in line. He surely earned the place where he was drafted by his performance at Oregon and he's come in here and taken charge."
It was widely reported on Saturday that DeSean Jackson will end his holdout on Monday morning and report to Lehigh University. Monday is the team's last day of full practice before Thursday's preseason opener.
Reid did not disclose whether he's been given assurance that Jackson will show up on Monday.
"We'll see, we'll see when he gets in. We've talked about it a little bit but we'll just see," Reid said. "We'll see when he gets here and we'll go from there."
The Eagles reported to camp on July 27. Veterans were given a one-day grace period to report because of the fact that the Collective Bargaining Agreement was negotiated just two days earlier. The Eagles started practice July 28.
Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha missed Sunday morning's practice with what head coach Andy Reid described as upper leg inflammation, but should be back in a day or two. Defensive end Trent Cole was sidelined as well with elbow bursitis. Wide receiver Sinorice Moss was out with a slight groin strain.
Also out with previous injuries were defensive tackle Trevor Laws (hip), wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (illness) and safety Marlin Jackson (groin).
Reid said there is no update with regards to defensive tackle Mike Patterson. Defensive end Brandon Graham and offensive tackle Winston Justice remain on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
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