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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A recap of the Eagles first open practice (July 28th, 2013)

by: Ryan Waldis
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Photo Courtesy: Bleeding Green Nation
For the first time since 1943, Training Camp for the Philadelphia Eagles is being held in the city, not at Lehigh University. Although fans can no longer make the pilgrimage to Lehigh for roughly two to three weeks and watch every practice session, the team incorporated five sessions over the next month that would be open to the public and take place at Lincoln Financial Field.

Tickets and parking will be free, making the aforementioned practice sessions very popular among the fans. According to team president Don Smolenski, about 30,000 fans attended the first practice on July 28 and about 65,000 tickets were distributed. I was one of those fans, and I was taking notes throughout the duration of the session. Let's take a look at the main happenings from the third day of Training Camp:

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  • Brandon Boykin made a case for why he should be one of the two starting cornerbacks. Some members of the secondary were beat a number of times; Boykin was not one of them. He broke up a lot of passes, and seemed to thrive on the outside. Whether he can keep this up, however, remains to be seen. For today though, Boykin would seem to be a large improvement over the Eagles CB's last season.
  • Brent Celek has become well liked over the past several years. He has a level of toughness that the fans crave. He never gives up, and he always shows a lot of heart when he's on the field. Recently, however, drops have haunted him. That was no different today. With no one around him, Celek dropped a catch-able pass. The crowd emitted a noticeable groan. 
  • Chris Polk was one of the few stars on the offense. Although the defense wasn't tackling (the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills essentially represented a two-hand touch football game in my eyes), Polk made more than a few defenders miss. He won't get a lot of playing time being behind LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown on the depth chart, but he's an interesting guy to keep an eye on.
  • The quarterbacks as a whole looked good. Matt Barkley really impressed me; he has a strong arm, he's accurate, and he throws a tight spiral. Chances are he'll be holding a clipboard this season, but I can see him as the starting quarterback in a few years, tops. Nick Foles made a couple questionable decisions, throwing into very tight coverage during the 11-on-11 drills a few times. Michael Vick performed well, although he'll need to really step it up if he wants to be named the starter. 
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  • The theme of the first practice was Almuni Day. Prior to practice, the alumni who attended were introduced on the field. Brian Westbrook, Brian Dawkins and Harold Carmichael may have received the warmest receptions, with majority of the 30,000+ fans standing and cheering for them. Donovan McNabb's introduction was met with some boos, although there seemed to be more people cheering in my opinion. It'll be interesting to see what happens when Week Three comes around.
Injuries: Jeremy Maclin, WR (torn ACL, out for season), Arrelious Benn, WR (knee, DTD), Cary Williams, CB (hamstring, DTD), B.J. Cunningham, WR (foot, DTD), Antonio Dixon, DL (unknown), Todd Herremans, OL (knee, said after practice that he is fine per CSN)...UPDATE: LB Jason Phillips tore his ACL and will miss the season.

Plays of the Day: Matt Barkley completed a nice pass to Greg Salas along the sideline. Salas beat Trevard Lindley, who has seemingly been a member of the Eagles for the past three seasons. Dennis Dixon also completed a nice pass to DeSean Jackson, who proceeded to run into the endzone.

Note: The next open practice is August 5th (the other three are 8/11, 8/17 and 8/26)

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