The Philadelphia Eagles held their third and final mandatory minicamp practice on Thursday morning 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 still 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.
• Weather update to start us off: finally a day where it wasn't 95+ and brutal. Today wasn't too bad at all. I'm sure the players welcomed the change.
• Your Love by The Outfield kicked off practice. I'm just now realizing that song isn't by The Police. I guess it's minicamp for the reporters, too. To the dismay of people on Twitter, Counting Crows followed.
• WR Jeff Maehl returned to practice after sitting out on Wednesday. I'd say Maehl is very much still in the running for the sixth spot if the Eagles keep that many.
• Here's an example that the Eagles have their defensive backs run through. Nothing too fancy.
Eagles DB drill https://t.co/tGnwBiYMR0— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) June 19, 2014
• Kicker battle update: Alex Henery and Carey Spear got some kicks in near the start of practice. I didn't see Henery miss any, but Murderleg definitely missed one. Spear's "Murderleg" nickname seems to be catching on with the players/coaches. Someone yelled at him during the drill, "GO, MURDERLEG!" I think it may have even been head coach Chip Kelly, but I'm not completely sure on that. ... Henery and Spear both kicked again later in practice, this time with a block team in the way (they weren't actively trying to block the kick due to practice contact limits). The kicks were from about 50 yards out or so. I saw Henery make all of his, including one that landed on top of the NovaCare's roof. Spear shanked a few. One missed so bad that it was kicked out of the fence surrounding the Eagles practice field and into the parking lot. The ball boy had to go out and search for it.
• While the ball boy was gone there was no one to catch the balls being used on the FG kicks. In true Jordan Matthews fashion, the rookie WR sprinted over and took over. He wasn't kidding when he said he'd outwork everyone. Matthews throws a nice spiral, by the way.
• Second year offensive tackle Lane Johnson added weight this offseason and it's apparent by looking at him. He looks bigger in a good way.
• Speaking of offensive lineman, there was a funny moment when the OL was practicing screens. The rest of the team was busy doing a ST drill so center Jason Kelce hiked a ball to backup center Julian Vandervelde who then threw to right tackle Johnson. Undrafted rookie OT Kevin Graf used a blocker pad on one of the plays to swat down Vandervelde's pass. Offensive linemen just want to have fun.
• The Eagles practice special teams a lot. They signed a numbers of special teams guys including Bryan Braman, Chris Maragos, and Nolan Carroll. They're also getting Jason Phillips back. James Casey, Brad Smith, Najee Goode, and Chris Polk were some of the best Eagles ST coverage players last season. Then the team added new bodies in the mix as returners. Names include: Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin (returning from injury), Nolan Carroll, Josh Huff, and Jordan Matthews. I look at all of this and can't help think that the Eagles have a good chance to be improved on ST this season.
• One ST drill took place where the Eagles were trying to down punts inside the 5 yard line. Aside from one punt that went in the end zone, Donnie Jones did a great job of booting it. Brandon Boykin, Josh Huff, and Jaylen Watkins did the best job of downing the punts.
• QB Stuff: The Eagles starting QB threw a great pass to Riley Cooper 20 yards (or so) down field. Cooper was tightly covered but Foles zipped it to him high enough where only Cooper could get it. Brent Celek dropped a short Foles pass where DeMeco Ryans was in tight coverage. Ryans essentially forced the drop. I think I heard Foles yell "Omaha" at one point. Just another sign that Foles is the next Peyton Manning.
Mark Sanchez had another practice where he didn't look awful. I didn't see any major mistakes. He still shows poor touch on passes towards the sideline. The ball ends up going way above the receivers head and out of bounds. Huff, who is now regularly running with the second team, was a favorite target for Sanchez. I did see Huff drop a pass but the throw was low.
Matt Barkley didn't stand out to me except when he threw a pass that was tipped by rookie safety Ed Reynolds and then picked off by safety Keelan Johnson.
• I write about the offense a lot but the defense made some good plays today (as far as minicamp goes). Mychal Kendricks blew up a RB catch in the backfield. Then Bradley Fletcher knocked down a pass intended for Arrelious Benn.
• "Kung Fu Fighting" started playing at one point. That's one I haven't heard at Eagles practice before.
• Post-practice JUGS update: Not a lot of guys today because most players probably wanted to be on their way home after practice. I did see Zach Ertz and Brad Smith putting in extra work though.
Up next: There's not much going on until Eagles Training Camp begins in late July. No exact date for that has been released yet but it's expected to be announced soon. We now enter the dreaded Dead Zone period of the NFL offseason where there's just not much going on. Don't fret, however, because I promise you BGN will continue to still have multiple posts released every single day of the week. Together, we will make it through.