It was an intense practice at Lehigh University on Sunday as the team conducted two live hitting periods as well as an additional thud drill. There were 5,644 fans at practice, but it sounded like a lot more as the sets of bleachers on each side of the field battled in an "E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!" chant contest.
Injury Update: Defensive end Jason Babin (calf), tight end Brent Celek (knee) and wide receiver Riley Cooper (collarbone) did not participate in practice. Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (cramps) returned to action after leaving Saturday's practice early. Safety Phillip Thomas (hamstring) left the field during warm-ups and did not take part in the practice.
There was no further update on Babin, who is scheduled to have a MRI on his calf.
Team Blitz Drill
Cullen Jenkins worked a lot at left defensive end with Babin sidelined. Brandon Graham also received significant reps with the first-team defense at left defensive end.
The Eagles also featured a number of looks with their ends standing up. On one snap, Jenkins and Trent Cole were standing up. There was another were Derek Landri and Fletcher Cox were the only down linemen and Cole and Jenkins were stemming with DeMeco Ryans and Brian Rolle looking as if they were going to come up the middle.
On the second play of the drill, Michael Vick found Stanely Havili wide open over the middle of the field to beat the blitz. Havili looked up and was almost surprised at how wide open he was, before turning upfield and scampering for a gain of over 20 yards.
The Eagles utilized a two-back formation several times with LeSean McCoy split wide and Dion Lewis in the backfield.
Lewis made the highlight reel when he took a screen pass 60 yards to the house. Offensive tackle King Dunlap and guard Mike Gibson got out in front to pave the clean road.
Move The Ball (Featuring 4-Minute Offense)
The offense scrimmaged against the defense for about 15 minutes before spending five additional minutes working on the four-minute drill, which is used to milk the clock at the end of games with a lead.
On the very first play of the drill, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie read a Mike Kafka pass intended for Damaris Johnson, ran up and took the ball away from him for the interception. It was one of two on the day for Rodgers-Cromartie.
The Eagles' first-team offense took the field and went on a three-play, 70-yard touchdown drive.
"It was great," Vick said. "To get in and out, three plays, to be efficient and look smooth doing it, it's exactly what we wanted."
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin caught a 25-yard pass from Vick on a play-action fake.
Vick was able to float a ball into the flat over Jamar Chaney's head and into the hands of McCoy for a gain of 18 yards.
Vick scored on a designed 27-yard touchdown run. He faked a quick handoff and ran down the left sideline. Vick may have been stopped around the goal line if the defense could hit him.
"That's a video game play," center Jason Kelce said to tackle Todd Herremans after the play.
It is still amazing that Vick scored just one rushing touchdown in all of 2011.
Emil Igwenagu, who is seeing reps at tight end because of Celek's injury, caught a short pass and trucked cornerback Cliff Harris, who did not wrap up on the tackle.
Defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu earned a sack of quarterback Nick Foles on a third-down in the defense's territory to force a field goal attempt.
Jaiquawn Jarrett forced a McCoy fumble that was recovered by Chaney. The sure-handed McCoy has lost just three fumbles in his first three NFL seasons. Chaney followed that up with a nice shoestring tackle of McCoy to hold the All-Pro back to a short gain.
Special Cat - 3rd-and-short
The first live hitting session of practice was during the Special Cat (Category) where the offense worked on 3rd-and-short situations. According to Stats Inc., the Eagles had 57 opportunities last season where they faced 3rd-and-short (defined as fewer than 3 yards) and they were successful on 37 of them for a 62.7 percent success rate. That ranked eighth in the NFL and third in the NFC.
Last season, the Eagles' defense was just as good in 3rd-and-short situations. The Eagles allowed opponents to be successful 52 percent of the time (26-of-50) which was good for seventh in the NFL.
The Eagles had success with a pitch to running back McCoy to the right side. The offensive line sold the run to the left and the right side opened up for McCoy.
Running back Bryce Brown didn't get much work on Saturday, but in his first carry during the Special Cat drill he easily got the first down with a run up the middle. Brown ran the ball hard up the middle and kept churning his legs to get additional yardage. However, on the very next play, Brown dropped a screen. Linebacker Keenan Clayton was, however, lining up to pack Brown with a wallop.
Safety Nate Allen perfectly read a run play designed for Lewis. Allen got in the backfield to slow him down and linebacker Mychal Kendricks finished off the tackle for a loss on the play.
On a McCoy run, Graham showed great pursuit running from his left defensive end position all the way across the field to make the tackle.
On an end around, wide receiver DeSean Jackson gained the first down, but cornerback Brandon Boykin showed his wheels and kept the gain to a minimum.
Fight Night At Lehigh
Round 1: OT Demetress Bell vs. DT Derek Landri - This happened during the team blitz drill. It came at the end of a pass play in which DeSean Jackson was in the slot against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. At the end of the play, Bell went after Landri.
"It's very intense. It's football," Bell said. "It's hot and tempers are going to flare up."
Landri was surprised the fights didn't start on Saturday.
"We're just trying to get our work in. Things happen," Landri said. "It's over and done with. At the end of the day, we're all family."
Quarterback Michael Vick got caught in the action trying to play the role of peacemaker. Needless to say, it was a mistake.
"That's over and done with. I can't play peacemaker anymore," Vick said. "I try to keep everything pretty much diplomatic around here. You can't always do that. Tempers are going to flare. There's a little attitude sometimes when you're in on the trenches, so I have to stay out of that. I'm not strong enough to be in there."
Head coach Andy Reid called timeout before the next snap to get the focus back on football.
Round 2: G Danny Watkins vs. LB Ryan Rau
At the end of the final play of the 9-on-7 drill, linebacker Ryan Rau went after guard Danny Watkins. The rookie free agent out of Portland State was not going to take slack from anyone whether it's a veteran or a former first-round pick like Watkins.
"He picked a fight with me and I didn't really know who it was," Rau said. "I'm going to try my best. I'm not going to let anyone push me around."
Wide Receiver vs. Defensive Back Drills
There was a three-play sequence during the wide receiver-defensive back that set the crowd on fire. First, Damaris Johnson made a highlight catch deep down the left sideline on Trevard Lindley. Johnson wrestled the ball away from Lindley as they both went to the ground, and the on-site official ruled it a catch.
On the next play, Vick launched a deep ball down the right sideline to Jackson, who had a step on Rodgers-Cromartie. This time, Rodgers-Cromartie was unable to play catchup as the ball hit Jackson in stride. On the very next play, Jeremy Maclin victimized Brandon Boykin deep down the left sideline. Asomugha jumped up with Maclin, but the fourth-year receiver was able to make the play on the ball.
Tight End/Running Back Vs. Linebacker Drills
Kendricks showcased fluid athleticism as he dipped under a Brett Brackett block attempt.
McCoy was forced to change direction as Landri stuffed the middle.
Cox appears to be defensive line coach Jim Washburn's pet project. Even after he stuffed McCoy for no gain in the 9-on-7 drill, Washburn was coaching him up.
The fullbacks received a number of touches as the short-yardage game was a focal point. During the 9-on-7 drill, Jeremy Stewart drew praised for a nice run up the middle.
Andy Reid said earlier on Sunday that the team will not look to sign a veteran receiver to replace some of Riley Cooper's reps, but rather will let the young receivers battle it out. Marvin McNutt has been mentioned as taking advantage of that opportunity, but another under-the-radar wide receiver made an impression Sunday. Jamel Hamler, 23, who spent three weeks at the end of the 2011 on the Eagles practice squad, made several sterling plays during 7-on-7's and in wide receiver-defensive back one-on-ones. On one play in particular, Hamler had a step on Cliff Harris down the right sideline and made a really impressive acrobatic catch.
The tight ends were a major weapon during the 7-on-7 drills. First, Brackett got past Ryans up the seam and Vick hit him right in stride for a big gain. Brackett then made another play down field on a corner route, hauling in a Mike Kafka pass after beating Moise Fokou to the corner. Later, Clay Harbor made another play down the seam, beating Brian Role into space.
The best defensive play of the 7-on-7 drill came when Kurt Coleman made a great read on a Vick pass intended for Jackson over the middle. If it had been a live session, Coleman would have taken it back to the house.
1-on-1's - Offensive Line vs. Defensive Line
Landri is so tough to stop because he gets off the ball quickly and is able to maintain leverage by staying low to the ground.
"It's just something that's been taught. It's something that I've worked on and it's, well, want-to," Landri said of his technique.
In back-to-back battles of former first-round picks, Watkins was able to hold his ground against Cox. With that being written, Cox is explosive and powerful out of his stance.
Cole does not get a lot of snaps in these drills. When he does, you quickly see why. On one snap, Cole was able to blow past Demetress Bell. On another, he bullrushed D.J. Jones.
Chas Henry worked on his drop kicks, which would potentially come after a safety. Alex Henery worked on his onsides kicks as well as his kickoffs when the team is in an onsides look.
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