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Three Plays From Eagles Training Camp: Darren Sproles, Dallas Goedert, and Mike Wallace

Sproles guards his secrets; Goedert flashes downfield; Wallace waits

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Howdy folks! As every day of training camp rolls by, there will be threads of live analysis as well as posts of practice notes here at Bleeding Green Nation. I’ll be providing commentary and analysis on three plays that stood out to me as noteworthy reps, with some notes from the players as well on their performances. Please note that these are just practice reps, and not worthy of overreaction.

Day 1

Day 2

Play #3) Dallas Goedert v. Kamu Grugier-Hill

I’ve wanted Philadelphia to test Goedert deep all camp long. Dallas is a great intermediate player because of his sure hands, large catch radius, and ability to separate in short areas—but we already knew all of that.

We also knew his SDSU tape showed a player with excellent concentration tracking down the field, and the ability to catch through contact as well. We just hadn’t had an opportunity to see if Goedert could adjust to long balls and have the burst late in his route to finish the play.

Today, we got two (2) Goedert deep balls, both illustrative in their context. Each came at the extent of Grugier-Hill, who struggled to stay in Goedert’s large frame while matching his short-area quickness. Both routes were out-and-ups. On the first, Goedert did well to stack Kamu with downfield leverage and gained a step on him, but the ball came in behind him. Goedert stopped his momentum and made a catch falling to the ground while Grugier-Hill came bowling into his frame. Tough ask; tough catch.

The second ball was far more accurate—right in the bucket. Again, Goedert worked through the two cuts necessitated by the out-and-up with really nice smoothness and preservation of momentum. Ertz is a more explosive short-area athlete than Goedert is, and plays better through contact as well—but Goedert is such a graceful athlete in his routs who can execute multiple cuts without losing his speed. It’s what makes him a better YAC threat than Zach, and it showed up today, on that bread basket catch downfield.

Goedert is clearly a rookie, and mentally right now he’s slow on the field. But the flashes are there of what he’ll become as he continues settling in.

Play #2) Mike Wallace v. Carson Wentz/Nick Foles

4.33. That’s the time Mike Wallace hit in his 40-yard dash at the 2009 Combine. Coming into the 2013 Combine, no other WR had bested the number since.

Somebody’s gotta tell his QBs.

Admittedly, most of practice isn’t really at 100% speed (though nobody told Nelson Agholor that). But Mike Wallace now has been targeted across three days on three separate go routes, and on each he’s had to gear down—on one, stop completely—to wait for the football to arrive.

What you notice about Wallace’s work on go routes is that he wastes absolutely zero time getting into them, which is nice. Instead of working release moves at the line of scrimmage, Wallace just hops to the DB’s outside shoulder and flies downfield. When you have that one elite trait—speed—just use it. This is an error young players often make, but a veteran understands. I never watched Torrey Smith in camp last year, but you’d struggle to convince me he ever looked this fast.

The rapport with his QBs will come; they’ll get a better sense of his limits. Really, you can rep the long ball as much as you like, but it’s game experience that will really solidify the bond and iron out the timing. Expect to see some 1-on-1 shots to Wallace in the preseason—won’t really matter if they’re picks or TDs. Just trying to get a feel for the new toy on the outside.

Note: Mike’s the man

Play #1) Darren Sproles v. me

Darren looks good, folks. Which is just stupid, because 35 year old running backs aren’t supposed to tear their ACLs and then look super quick—I mean, 35 year old running backs aren’t supposed to look super quick, period. Sproles a different breed.

He had two runs of note—both of the same process. It was inside zone flow from the I-formation, which puts Sproles on a downhill path right away. On inside zone, the three paths the running back can often take are categorized by the titles “Bang, Bend, and Bounce.” I sculpted another masterfully, hand-drawn diagram for you to see it in action.

H/t Inside the Pylon

I know, some of my coloration is off. Please forgive me.

Anyway, Sproles excels as a “Bend” reader of inside zone. He loves to immediately come to the backside and cut against flow—a technique that fits his physical profile of quickness and acceleration. On both instances, he was able to get all the way to the backside of linebacker flow and immediately release into the third level for what would have been 10+ yard gains.

On one such run, Kelce audibled a pre-snap “Box!” call at the line of scrimmage. It’s a call the Eagles OL worked on even in simple OL drills with Jeff Stoutland, and has to do with the how the linebackers align over the interior defensive linemen. I decided to ask Sproles about how he read inside zone, and he laughed me off.

“Man, I can’t give you all my secrets!”

Note: after we talked about the audible call, Sproles asked me if I played quarterback. The conversation did not go great for me.

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