August 08, 2015
Saturday practice was extremely short, but there was plenty to see, as the Eagles practiced on the ideal "far right" field, which allows sideline access to the media. Here's what I saw:
• DeMarco Murray practiced today, but he did not play in team drills. He has been a near no-show for camp so far. Ryan Mathews got reps with the ones, and he looked good. You can see his burst through the hole, and he made a diving catch today. To note, I don't think it's terribly worrisome that Murray hasn't done much yet. He's a proven player who had 497 touches a year ago.
• Mark Sanchez had a good day. He threw a pretty seam ball to Jeff Maehl in the back of the end zone for a TD during team red zone drills. He knew it as soon as he let it go, too. His arms were raised before Maehl made the play on his end. Maehl had a pair of TD catches on the day, FYI.
• The Eagles have targeted the back of the end zone quite a bit throughout camp, which is smart. Back of the end zone throws are typically either going to be completed for a touchdown, or incomplete out the back of the end zone. You don't see many interceptions back there.
• Rookie CB Randall Evans was called for holding in the end zone during red zone drills. He's been clutching and grabbing all camp.
• Sam Bradford had a good day throwing the ball, but still looks awkward when he runs. On an option play, Bradford rolled left and threw a lateral to a receiver, which was way off target. The receiver was not able to handle the bad throw, and the defense jumped on it for the fumble recovery. Bradford looks comfortable in the pocket, but it's going to take more time and more reps before he looks natural making throws on the move.
Where Bradford has looked really good, however, is on his anticipation throws. On consecutive throws, he made two very good anticipation throws to Josh Huff. The first was on an in route to Huff, who was on a dead sprint, and Bradford threw to a spot where he knew Huff would stop. Huff turned and the ball was there for him. On the next play, Huff was running an out route, and the ball was in the air before Huff came out of his break. That throw was on the money. He and Huff were definitely on the same page on those two plays, which is very encouraging to see from a QB in a new offense.
• Here's special teams coach Dave Fipp taking reps with the defensive backs:
• The Eagles did some directional / short field punting drills today. Among the players getting work as gunners were Eric Rowe, JaCorey Shepherd, E.J. Biggers, and Seyi Ajirotutu. Over the last two seasons, whenever the Eagles were punting from around the 50 yard line, Donnie Jones almost always punted to the right side, where Brandon Boykin resided as the one of the best gunners in the game. Boykin did a tremendous job getting down the field quickly, locating the ball, and downing it inside the 10.
I thought Rowe did a nice job getting down the field quickly. However, he's certainly not Boykin yet. On one play he stepped out of bounds on his way down the field. That is a huge no-no. If you step out of bounds you cannot be the first person to touch the ball. That would be "illegal touching," which can cost your team a great punt. Those are the kinds of small things that need to be corrected, and Boykin will not be easy to replace as a gunner.
• Sometimes the Eagles don't even need gunners. I write about Donnie Jones more than every other reporter on Earth combined, but to be serious, he really is incredible at directional and short field punting. On one punt today, he landed it at the one foot line, with backspin, and it rolled back the 3. Incredible punt. It's like Donnie has a pitching wedge for a left leg.
• We've mentioned UDFA RB Raheem Mostert a few times for his speed, but he's been good as a receiver too. Today he had a TD catch, but he has made catches look routine throughout camp. That has come as a surprise (to me, anyway), seeing as he had 19 career catches at Purdue.
• In other UDFA news, Chip Kelly said that OL Malcolm Bunche is a player to keep an eye on. Kelly cited Bunche's ability to move people.
• RG update: Here are the players who have gotten reps with the first team offense so far:
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