The Philadelphia Eagles held an OTA practice open to the media again on Tuesday and I was there to soak it all in. It was a fairly long practice (nearly two hours or so). Keep in mind that these are all non-contact drills at this point. Players aren't allowed to wear shells yet. There's only so much to be gleaned from players running around in shorts, but here's what I observed:
• Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spoke before practice. He touched on a number of subjects. More on that later today.
• We start off with the always important weather update: very humid again today. Gross. I can't imagine it's very fun for the players who are, you know, actually doing the physical activity here.
• I saw Nate Allen leave practice near the beginning of practice while the team was stretching. He didn't look noticeably hurt. Later, Eagles second year safety Earl Wolff told the media that Allen left due to illness, not injury. Wolff filled in with the first team during Allen's absence.
• I noted yesterday that undrafted rookie tight end Blake Annen dropped a few passes yesterday. Same story today.
• There's never a dull moment with LeSean McCoy around. After finishing up a RB drill McCoy ran up to a camera filming the first 15 minutes of practice and yelled "WOOOOOOOOO!"
• Eagles kicker battle update: I saw Alex Henery go 5/5 on field goals while Carey Spear (Murderleg) only went 4/5. Later in practice the two kickers were alternating kickoff duty. Spear's first kick found the corner of the endzone for a touchback, but was close to being out of bounds, which is a penalty in the NFL. Spear shanked a kickoff later during the drill where it clearly went out of bounds along the sideline. Not good. Henery's kicks all made the end zone but only one of them was kicked entirely out of play. Barring a major upset, it's safe to say Henery will win this battle.
• Darren Sproles, Brad Smith, Josh Huff, Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Damaris Johnson, Nolan Carroll, and Brandon Boykin were taking reps in a kick returner drill. Those are generally the same names as the punt returners except for Smith, Huff, Carroll, and Boykin. I think Sproles will be the primary guy here but Huff could be in the mix. It wouldn't surprise me if the Eagles wanted to experiment with Jordan Matthews returning kicks. He barely did it in college but he has the long end speed to hit a gap and blow by everyone. That said, he's probably too important to the offense and the Eagles have other options.
• Nick Foles rebounded from a two interception performance on Monday. DeMeco Ryans almost picked the third year QB on a check down play but couldn't get the ball under control. Foles hit Benn, who continues to look solid, along the sideline for a catch. Good route and perfect timing on the throw. Later in practice Foles rolled out right looked for Jeremy Maclin deep down the field. It was a bomb of a pass and Maclin caught it clean. Cary Williams was just a step behind in coverage. There was a play where Foles took off running past the line of scrimmage and then threw it backwards to Arrelious Benn. Far from your conventional looking lateral.
• Mark Sanchez didn't look terrible today. There were some bad plays but there weren't any interceptions. Sanchez's favorite target, by far, is Jordan Matthews. At one point Sanchez took four consecutive reps and threw to Matthews on each of those plays.
• Speaking of JMatt, he's looked really good so far in these practices. Jimmy Kempski went as far to say he's been the overall best Eagles receiver. I wouldn't disagree. The only thing I would say is that, and Kempski noted this, veteran players like Maclin and Cooper might not be as pushing as hard at Matthews is in order to impress. Matthews has an incredible work ethic and will always push to work harder than anyone.
• Matthews apparently made a really awesome catch at one point that I didn't see . Or at least that's what Jimmy Kempski (Philly.com) and Sheil Kapadia (Birds 24/7) led me to believe. Don't forget to check out their always awesome practice notes, by the way.
• One thing I definitely did notice that I hadn't noticed before was the presence of Josh Huff. He seemed to be the favorite target of second year quarterback Matt Barkley. I hadn't noticed Huff very often in practices prior to today. A number of his catches were for short gains.
• Eagles GM Howie Roseman attended practice today. At one point, Jimmy Kempski caught his eye. So here's the story: Kempski picked up a ball that had rolled near him after a kickoff from Carey Spear. A ball boy called for the ball and Kempski threw a nice tight spiral to the ball boy from about 15 yards or so away. Kemspki, not one for modesty, took the opportunity to crank out a mean fist pump in celebration. Roseman, who was standing nearby, remarked "Better than I expected." Kempski just can't resist the spotlight.
• Players getting some work in on the JUGS machine after practice: Cary Williams, Earl Wolff, Quron Pratt, Brad Smith.
• In news that will interest almost no one: Jeff Maehl's hair isn't nearly as long as it was last year. Looks like he got a hair cut.
Up next: The Eagles have two more OTA practices this week but none of them are open to the media. Eagles mandatory minicamp starts next week and is open to the media during all three days.
Remaining Eagles offseason workout schedule:
OTAs: June 11-12.
Mandatory Minicamp: June 17-19.