It was nice breezy day at Lehigh and some cloud cover provided relief from what would have been the oppressive heat. A crowd of over 6,000 showed up on a Sunday to watch the second to last day of live hitting at camp. Later on, considerably less people stuck around for the special teams session...
Brian Westbrook returned from the viral illness that held him out of the previous days practice. He didn't take a ton of reps, but the previous reports from camp have said that Westbrook hasn't been taking a lot of reps period. When he caught his first pass the crowd a cheered and one guy yelled "Andy, give him his money!" drawing laughs from the stands and the sidelines.
After the jump catch my full report and observations
Plays of the day
There were three plays that stood out in the live hitting sessions that drew the biggest cheers from the crowd. First was great touchdown catch from Kevin Curtis where he jumped up over two defenders in the back of end zone to haul in a 20 yard McNabb pass and then held on to the ball as he got hammered pretty good in the air.
Sheldon Brown made the defensive play of the day with a diving breakup of a sure touchdown pass.
Lorenzo Booker had a fantastic 30 yard run where it looked it he'd be tackled 3 or 4 times but he continued to wriggle out of tackles and dane around hits to get the ball down inside the 5 yard line.
Booker & Westbrook
Speaking of Booker, I've heard a lot people comparing him to Brian Westbrook and I have to disagree. Yes, he's small and quick and catches passes out of the backfield. Those things they have in common, but they really do look different out on the field. For one, Westbrook is a lot stronger. Both are short guys, but Westbrook is noticeably bigger than Booker. He's got bigger arms, bigger legs and runs differently than Booker. Westbrook runs with a lower center of gravity and he's harder to tackle than Booker, whereas Booker probably has a better arsenal of moves than Westbrook and I think has more straight line speed.
No one stops and starts better than Brian Westbrook. He accelerates better than any back in football, but I think in a straight up race down the football field Booker would win. Plus, as shifty as Westbrook is Booker seems to be the flashier runner. You'll see more spin moves, and dancing around from Booker. Westbrook's elusiveness from his stutter step, his ability to stop and start, and the fact that he can deliver a stiff arm when needed. I don't think anyone is going to fear Booker's stiff arm.
The biggest laugh of the day came during a scrimmage where the first team was on the field and everyone else, including 6'8 King Dunlap was on the sidelines. A fan yelled from the stands" Hey Dunlap, down in front!"
During a drill where it was just recievers vs defensive backs, McNabb decided to tuck the ball away and run for a touchdown where he celebrated wildy. He got a big cheer from the crowd and laughs from the team.
When the team practices special teams in the early session the kick team wears orange beanies on their head. At one point, QB AJ Feeley put a beanie on and jogged on the field to play coverage on a kickoff team. Before the kick, a coach saw him and shooed him off the field.
During a special teams practice in the early session Desean Jackson was fielding bouncing punts as Juqua Parker yelled at him "Get that ball peanut! Get that ball!"
Another funny moment with Desean came in the late session where he was doing a drill in which he had to jump to the ground when a punt was kicked and then jump back up and field it. Desean jumped down a let out a loud yell as he got up and was not able to hold onto the ball. He rolled around yelling a for a seconds and everyone got a kick out of it. Quintin Demps was able to catch the punt in that drill by the way...
Richmond McGee can punt. McGee is a kicker/punter that was brought into this camp seemingly give the starters a breather and handle kickoff duties during drills and what not... Problem is, McGee can really play. He didn't kick any FGs, but his kickoffs sailed out of the end zone several times and his punts were longer and had more hang time than Rocca's did on the day. With Rocca being Aker's holder and the team unlikely wanting to change that situation this year I can't see how McGee will make the team... but part of me wonders whether he might be the better punter.
You really can't overstate how big King Dunlap is. You see him standing on the sidelines or in the huddle and the guy is clearly at least a head taller than anyone else on the team. As far as his play, I thought he struggled at times when he was lined up against Trent Cole.
If Dunlap is the biggest guy on the team, Bam Childress has got to be the smallest. He may be listed as officially an inch taller than another guy or a few pounds heavier... but to the naked eye there was no doubt in my mind that he's the smallest guy in camp. I was also surprised how small Joselio Hanson is.
The most vocal guy on the field is Omar Gaither. There's no doubt about it. He talks alot and he's loud. He'll talk trash to the offense, he'll yell out encouragment if a guy makes a good play, and he'll give suggestions if a guy doesn't. He's a great personality out there and it seems like he's emerging as a real leader. Stewart Bradley is also pretty talkative out there and seemed to having as much as anyone. The LB corps as a whole looked like they were having a blast.
Interesting moment in the afternoon special teams practice. They were practicing being the gunner and blocking the gunner. Franz Hardy lined up as the gunner with Jason Avant and I think Nick Graham blocking him. Avant rode Hardy straight out of bounds pretty easily and all three guys pulled and jogged back. This annoyed special teams coach Rory Segrest who ran over yelling "finish the rep!" and told them to do it again.
Make no mistake about it... the mythical fade pass looks like it will part of the Eagles offense this year. All QBs practiced it several times.
Speaking of QBs, I thought Kevin Kolb looked very good. I didn't count but it seemed to me that he took as many if not more reps than McNabb and looked very solid. He throws a very hard, very tight ball and looks to be a noticeable class above AJ Feely.
It looks like Kris Wilson is losing the position battle at TE. He dropped a couple tough, but catchable balls. Meanwhile, Matt Schobel and Brent Celek both looked solid catching the ball.