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August 13, 2015

Breakfast with the Birds: What’s up with DeMarco Murray?

Eagles NFL

It’s difficult to know what exactly is going on from the outside, but major free agent signing DeMarco Murray hasn’t exactly been a full participant at the beginning of training camp. There were hydration issues on the first day, an illness that caused him to miss another practice, and more instances where he has been in-and-out of the action. 

It was more of the same on Wednesday for the reigning NFL rushing champ. Here is more from Tucker Bagley of Birds 24/7:

Another day, another individualized practice regimen for DeMarco Murray. One day after being a full participant in the team’s training session, Murray spent part of today working with the trainer and appeared to have a light workload overall, but the 2014 rushing champ says there is nothing to be worried about.

“No, we we’re just doing some different things to get different parts of my body activated and strengthen certain areas,” Murray explained. “So it’s good to work with [director of sports science and reconditioning] Shaun [Huls], he’s a great guy and I’m just excited to be here.”

According to Murray, everything is fine. It’s certainly a possibility. This might just be a case where we’re making too much of every little detail because of the five-year, $42 million contract he signed in the offseason. The Inky’s Zach Berman also wrote about the 27-year-old running back:

Murray, 27, said Wednesday that he is neither injured nor behind. When asked why he worked with the training staff during one portion of practice, he answered that it was to focus on different parts of his body and improve the strength in other areas. He said he is taking the work "day by day."

"I think there's a difference between getting the reps you need and getting too many reps," said Murray, who is entering his fifth year. "There are some situations where you know we feel that it's a scheme that I'm in there and there are certain situations where I'm comfortable in some things."

We might not have an accurate read on Murray until the regular season starts. Last year, he sat out two preseason games before getting approximately 100,000 touches and helping lead the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East title. Until then, all of that mileage will continue to be a reason why Murray is scrutinized so heavily.

Wednesday recap

1. Jimmy’s practice notes: There is a lot of info about Sam Bradford here, specifically focusing his mobility (or lack thereof). I’m getting pretty excited to watch Josh Huff and Nelson Agholor, too.

2. Preseason opener: On the subject of Bradford, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur is unsure if he’ll play against the Colts on Sunday.

3. Teeeebboowwww: Shurmur also discussed how the Eagles could utilize Tebow within their offense.

4. Decent odds: Bovada has the Eagles as the eighth most likely team to win the Super Bowl.

5. Riley Cooper: Despite rebounding from the incident at the Kenny Chesney concert to have a strong season and earn a new (terrible) contract, Cooper is still being asked race questions.

What they’re saying

SI's All-Underrated NFL Team: Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated

Two Eagles make the cut, one on each side of the ball in Jordan Matthews and Bennie Logan:

Matthews became the second-most prolific slot receiver (behind Green Bay's Randall Cobb) in the NFL in his rookie season. Chip Kelly saw Matthews in a slot role, and he was right. The Vanderbilt product caught 64 slot passes for 835 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season, trailing Randall Cobb as the NFL's most productive slot receiver. The Eagles went three-wide on 66% of their offensive snaps, eighth-highest in the NFL, so expect Matthews's numbers inside to continue.

As for Logan, no defensive tackle had more solo tackles last season than his 44, and he led the NFL in run stops at tackle with 33. He's the man who makes that great front seven go.

Why the Patriots and Cowboys will decline this season: KC Joyner, ESPN Insider

Like Jimmy, Joyner doesn’t think the Cowboys are going to easily replace what Murray did for them last year:

Dallas' game plan for replacing DeMarco Murray is to use a running-back-by-committee-approach, splitting the workload between Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Lance Dunbar.

That sounds great in theory, but one of the reasons the Cowboys rushing game worked so well last season is Murray was able to post an 8.9 GBYPA on 160 good blocking rush attempts. That volume of carries is highly important, as no other running back had more than 126 good blocking carries last year -- a testament to Dallas' terrific offensive line. But the Cowboys still need a RB who can take advantage of available rushing lanes.

Receivers on the Rise: Tommy Lawlor, Iggles Blitz

Like me, Lawlor is excited about the young receivers:

I can’t recall the Eagles having a young trio of receivers like Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Nelson Agholor. You have a 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick and 1st round pick. All three have a good combination of size and speed. All three are tough, hard-nosed and willing to block.

Matthews has established himself as a good NFL player. Huff showed flashes of real talent last year, but remains unproven. Agholor is a rookie and we have yet to see him in action. The practice reports for Huff and Agholor are encouraging.

Pope Blessed The 1980 Team: Ray Didinger,

Cool story from Ray Diddy that became more relevant this week after he heard about the petition for the pope to bless Sam Bradford’s knees:  

"Then I told the pope who Jim Murray was, that he was general manager of a professional football team," Piszek said. "The pope is an avid sportsman so he was very interested. I told the pope that Murray's team was entering its championship round and it has two Polish quarterbacks (Jaworski and Pisarcik). He didn't know what a quarterback was but I said, 'They're the big shots. They throw the ball.'

"The pope said, 'I wouldn't want them to get hurt,' so he got two Papal medals and blessed them. He told me to give them to the two players. He said they were for their protection."

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann