The Eagles' afternoon practice was significantly shorter than the morning one, but a few bright spots kept the mood high. The players took the field in shorts and shells, and Asante Samuel and Jeremy Maclin surprised the crowd by joining in on the action. Now that that practice is over and I have a moment to relax here at Casa de JimmyK, I'll spout off a few things that I noticed while I was prowling the sidelines at Lehigh:
- The players are starting to file onto the field for afternoon practice. E-A-G-L-E-S chants have already begun. The ladies are screaming for Leonard Weaver. Must be his alluring singing voice.
- Intern coach Duce Staley is helping the running backs warm up in one corner of the field. He seems to be gelling well with the players, and engages in a bit of ribbing with LeSean McCoy. As DeSean Jackson calls from across the field "How we doin' 2-5?" Duce responds, "Don't worry about 2-5. He ain't a playmaker until he starts making plays."
- Asante Samuel, warming up on the sidelines, sees me Tweeting on my phone and jokingly asks me to remind people how many Pro Bowls he's been to. The answer is three...so far.
- The kickers are warming up using soccer balls instead of footballs. I'm told this is to prevent injury if a player goes up for a block and gets hit by the ball. It looks like the Eagles are looking at Mike Kafka as a possible backup holder as well.
- Practice begins with Bobby April leading the punting drills. Next to offensive line coach Juan Castillo, April is the most energetic coach on the field. He tells DeSean Jackson, who is returning kicks with the first team, to be like Michelangelo and to "create" space during the return. Maclin and Chad Hall are the only other players who see reps at punt returner today.
- Standing on the sidelines next to me are Stacy Andrews and King Dunlap, who tower over me by a good seven inches. You never realize how truly huge these offensive line guys are until you're standing next to them. That's 670lbs of muscle right there.
- With all the injuries on the offensive line, the starting lineup has a new look to it. Jason Peters, Max Jean-Gilles, Mike McGlynn, Stacy Andrews and Winston Justice are running with the first team this afternoon. Jean-Gilles' shorts keep falling down after every play - he really has lost a ton of weight since last season.
- Kafka is getting a lot of his passes batted down by the third string d-line. He does manage to connect with Jared Perry for a nice gain, though. One thing I've noticed since Perry and Kafka hooked up for a 50-yard TD at Flight Night is that the two seem to be developing a solid rapport. Despite the massive depth at wide receiver, I think Perry will be a strong candidate for the practice squad this year.
- Practice ends with Coach Staley lining up the running backs and working on sprints. The crowd is going nuts for LeSean McCoy as he finishes up and jogs off the field. "They gotta relax!" he says, heading back to the locker room, "Ain't they ever seen sprints before?"
- I catch up with a crowd of reporters around Ellis Hobbs. He seems to think very highly of fellow defensive back Nate Allen, saying that he "doesn't play like a rookie" and that he fits in naturally as a starter. As for his own performance, Hobbs has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after last season: "It’s that dog in me that wants to prove a lot," Hobbs told us, "Just listening to some of the comments you guys say, as much as you try to ignore it, or the fans, I’m an alien in this country. You really haven’t seen what I can do. Last year was definitely not a season that you can judge me off of."
Now to get some well deserved rest before Jimmy and I return to the fields at Lehigh tomorrow. I'll continue to Tweet live updates from camp at @BobQuaintance. Stay tuned for more action to come!