July 26, 2012;Bethlehem, PA. USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) runs a drill during training camp at Lehigh University. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
Practice was already nearly 2 hours long, but Andy Reid still wanted to test his rookie running back.
After not seeing the ball very much in yesterday's practice, Reid gave Bryce Brown the ball 4 straight times in the dead heat at Lehigh. Brown responded to the test as he carried the ball roughly 30 yards on the 4 carries, and passed the test much like the rest of the team did during the Eagles nearly 3 hour practice Sunday afternoon.
Reid said over the summer that this was going to be one of the hardest camps he has ever ran, and he finally got the chance to show it as he put a ton of live hitting and individual battles in the marathon practice.
"The last three days have been long," said Micheal Vick after practice. "Today seemed like the longest, but that's what it is all about. We just have to work out and let out attitude be our gratitude each and every day."
For some players, the long practice was just what they needed.
"It's a lot of fun because I am the type of guy who likes to go hard every day," said Brian Rolle on the long practice. "A to of guys embrace it and we are having fun."
It was the kind of practice that will build character and toughness for a team that lacked both last season. It also gave the players plenty of time to make the coaches notice them.
Here are some observations from the day:
Jaiquawn Jarrett: Jarrett has gone mostly unnoticed since he was drafted last year with the Eagles 2nd round pick, but that changed with a big bang on Sunday. On what seemed like back to back plays Jarrett came up and made big hits during the live session. On one play, LeSean McCoy got through the line and into the secondary before Jarrett came up and nailed him in a loud collision that drew cheers from the crowd at Lehigh. Jarrett forced the ball loose and the defense recovered it. On another play, Jarrett came up and hit rookie fullback Jeremy Stewart from Stanford in another crowd pleaser. As he walked away seemingly unfazed by the big play, Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo yelled at him to "get excited" about the play. If Jarrett, who ran mostly with the 2nd team defense, can continue to make those kinds of plays throughout the season, it will be the fans who will be excited. Jarrett is the kind of player who should excel in the live hitting drills as his biggest asset coming out of Temple was supposed to be his physical play. He finally showed that on Sunday.
Chad Hall: Chad Hall might frustrate more fans than he excites, but Hall is doing everything in his power to make this team. It's clear he has a great grasp of the offense and has improved his route running. It also helps that he had caught everything thrown his way. Despite his great play, it's hard to see what kind of role he would have on this team. Hall can return kicks and punts, but likely won't be doing that. He is far down the receiver depth chart, and doesn't have the kind of breakaway speed or moves to demand the coaches run plays for him. But if he continues to make plays, the Eagles will have to find a spot for him.
Michael Vick: Vick has had a quietly good camp so far, but he made 2 plays today that showed the good and bad of having him as your quarterback. On the good play, Vick took a broken play and turned it into a 20 yard touchdown run that showed off his breakaway speed. But on a later play, Vick showed the poor decision making that killed the Eagles last year. Vick rolled out to the side as the defensive line got in his face and looked like he was going to run before stopping on a dime and whipping the ball across the field for an incompletion. Vick was lucky it was incomplete, as throwing the ball across the field is perhaps the worst throw a quarterback can make. It was just one play on what was otherwise a good day for Vick, but as Eagles fans know all to well, one play can kill a team.
Dion Lewis: Lewis had another great day on Sunday as he further distanced himself from the competition for the back up running back job. Lewis is still not a great between the tackles runner, but when he gets into space- watch out. Lewis took a screen pass today and started down the sideline. As a defender came his way, Lewis looked like he was going to go out of bounds before cutting it back into the middle of the field. Over 60 yards later, Lewis was in the end zone for the best play for the day for the offense. Lewis is no where near the runner McCoy is, but in open space, he is almost as dangerous. The Eagles need to do a better job this year getting him the ball in- sorry to do this- a position in which he can succeed. Because when he does, he can be a real threat.
Nick Foles: Their is a lot to like about the rookie quarterback from Arizona- his size, his arm, and his demeanor are just a few. Foles had some nice throws today down the field and showed nice touch on a few others. But on one play Foles showed why he is still very far away from being an adequate backup. As he dropped back in a 7 on 7 drill, Foles stared down Chad Hall the entire time, allowed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to make an easy interception. Foles has all the tools and will make this roster, but still has a lot of work to do.
Jason Kelce: Howard Mudd shocked many last season when he named rookie Jason Kelce at starter at center, but the growing pains Kelce went through last season are paying off this year. Kelce is not only doing a great job, but someone who didn't know anything about the Eagles would think he was a seasoned vet. He was the clear vocal leader of the offensive line and spent the times he was on the sideline talking strategy with his fellow linemen. When he was on the field, Kelce did a good job of calling out what he saw from the defense. Multiple times Kelce yelled a change pre-snap and the Eagles did a good job picking up all the defenders and protecting Vick.
Bryce Brown: As mentioned above, Andy Reid put Bryce Brown through a test today, and the rookie running back passed it. Brown has been non-existent for most of the last 2 days before his 4 straight carries this afternoon. Prior to the carries, Brown was not only not getting the ball, but as he stood on the sideline he looked so far removed from what was going on. But as much as 4 plays can change a players spot on the roster, they did just that. Bryce showed decent speed as he took one carry and beat the defenders to the corner before turning it up the field. On the next on, Brown took it up the middle for a few yards before being dragged down. Brown pounded the ball up the middle on the next 2 plays and showed strength and good moves in doing so. Brown is in a battle right now with Chris Polk for a roster spot, and has outplayed him so far. Reid showing interest in the rookie today bodes well for his chances, as Polk has not been given the same chances.
Fletcher Cox: Cox has had a decent camp so far, but showed some fight on Sunday when he mixed it up with Jason Kelce. The two got into it after the play, and while some others got involved, it was Cox who pushed back Kelce into Michael Vick. Pushing players into his quarterback is probably not something the coaches like to see, but seeing some fight from his 1st round pick likely pleased Andy Reid.
Marvin McNutt: McNutt is reaching near training camp legend status after a good showing yesterday, and the fans let him know it. Besides Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, fans yelled at Marvin McNutt the most on Sunday. Fans told him about the huge role he is going to play on the offense, how much they needed him, and as one fan put it- "You can catch everything thrown your way." While he will never admit it, McNutt seemed a little freaked out by the attention, as he had some bad drops and didn't impress on Sunday the way he did Saturday. While it is nothing to be alarmed about, it does show that at the end of the day, McNutt is just a rookie that is going to be inconsistent this year.
LeSean McCoy: Long runs at training camp are now the normal for McCoy, who day in and day out works hard and impresses at Lehigh. On one play, McCoy took what looked like a lost play and turned it into a 10 yard gain. On another, McCoy shook Curtis Marsh to the ground before turning up field. But what was most impressive about McCoy was how hard he works. Even on plays where there was no opposing defense, McCoy ran hard. When he wasn't on the field, he was talking to offensive linemen and coaches about the prior play. As he approached the sideline to get some water, a fan asked him for an autograph, to which McCoy responded to by just pointing to his head and saying "Gotta concentrate right now." McCoy said this offseason that he wanted to be a better leader, and he has been that thus far. In both talent and work ethic, he is clearly the kind of player and person you would want to invest in. The Eagles are lucky to have him.
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