The Philadelphia Eagles opened their Thursday OTA practice to the media 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 noted from Thursday's practice:
• 100% attendance except for Jordan Matthews (rookie event taking place in California) and Ed Reynolds (still finishing up classes at Stanford).
• In terms of noteworthy action, the practice got off to a slow start. But the actual pace of practice itself was fast as ever. While I didn't notice a huge change in tempo compared to last year, the emphasis on practice speed is still very clear. And yes, music was blasting from the speakers on the practice field. AC/DC's TNT kicked off practice.
• The fields were a little slippery due to the rain on Wednesday. No major injuries to report, but Mychal Kendricks was reportedly standing on the sidelines with a wrapped knee. Najee Goode filled in for Kendricks during first team defensive repetitions.
• To no surprise, Brandon Boykin recorded the first interception of Thursday's practice. To no surprise, Mark Sanchez was the one who threw the pass. In fairness to Sanchez, his intended receiver slipped on the aforementioned slippery surface.
• Quarterback talk: Nick Foles looked solid. He made a really good throw to Riley Cooper down the field after rolling out of the pocket at one point and also hit Celek with a good pass along the sideline. Sanchez didn't have the best day. He overthrew his targets too often. The majority of his reps came working with the second team. He's still adjusting to a new system. Second year QB Matt Barkley spent most of his reps with the third team. He didn't look bad save for a pass that was broken up by Jake Knott. G.J. Kinne had some nice throws. Chip Kelly acted as the fifth QB during the drill where all the QBs throw at once.
• High-level analysis here: Eagles rookie first round draft pick Marcus Smith is very big. He's hard to miss on the field. I caught Smith lining up over the slot WR on offense a few times. One of those times he dropped back into coverage and stayed with WR Damaris Johnson. Smith spoke after practice and provided some interesting quotes. More on that later.
• Nate Allen is taking reps at with the ones while second year safety Earl Wolff is running with the twos.
• Wide receiver Riley Cooper struggled with some drops. [Obligatory mention of his crucial drop in the Eagles playoff of the Saints.]
• An example of why first team reps don't always matter at this point: rookie UDFA RB David Fluellen spent some reps with the first group.
• Rookie cornerback Jaylen Watkins did a very nice job of downing punts at the 1 during a special teams drill. Good gunner potential.
• Speaking of special teams... Darren Sproles, Damaris Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, and Riley Cooper were all lined up for punt return duty.
• Some of the most active receivers: Damaris Johnson (2013 training camp darling), Brad Smith, and rookie UDFA Trey Burton. Smith was used on screens quite often and also took reps as the team's slot WR with Matthews not in attendance. Arrelious Benn, who's full healthy, didn't look too bad either. He made a number of catches.
• Darren Sproles looked pretty darn good. No signs of age or decline by my eye.
• That's about it for now. Keep in mind there are nearly 90 players working out on multiple fields so I won't be able to keep an eye on everyone at all times.
Up next: This concludes the first week of Eagles OTAs. There are still many quotes from today's session to sift through. BGN will have more on that later, so stay tuned.
Remaining offseason workout schedule:
OTAs: June 2-3, June 5, June 9-12.
Mandatory Minicamp: June 17-19.