Aug 092010

by Mike Prince

Defense makes noise – Some in different ways than others

Bethlehem, Pa – While the offense has been having its own troubles, whether it’s the injuries to the running game or the inaccuracy from its quarterbacks, the defense has quickly made itself known as the third week of Eagles training camp at Lehigh University began.

Among those that made a lot of noise on Monday were defensive backs Quintin Demps and Asante Samuel, as well as linebacker Ernie Sims – though his actions didn’t come off as positive to most wearing the green and white jerseys.

For the third time during camp – as well as the second in as many days – Ernie Sims was on the giving part of an incident that saw the fifth-year linebacker level one of his own players in practice, as Sims leveled Eldra Buckley in the air as the running back left his feet to catch a Kevin Kolb pass.

And this time, some of his players took exception.

“I’m not going to say too much about it,” OL Mike McGlynn said. “It’s part of practice and everybody’s fired up, but when something like that happens, you have to stand up for your own guy. A guy is defenseless like that…there’s not much more I can say.”

The previous day, Sims had a hard hit on rookie tight end Clay Harbor that turned some heads. Earlier on in camp, the linebacker blindsided Jason Avant in a typical non-contact drill before being reamed out by Coach Andy Reid.

On Monday, while Reid appreciates the aggressiveness of Sims and understands his player’s excitement, the coach again wasn’t too pleased with the hit.

As for Sims, he said he plays the game one way and expects the same from his other players.

“I was just playing football,” he said. “If they don’t like it, it is what it is. At the end of the day, when game time comes, I’ll step up for them and I expect my offense to step up for me and their teammates. The defensive players will step up for me and that’s just how a team works. On game day, we’ll work together.”

The rest of the defense, however, was working together – though it was still doing its best job of showing up the offense.

While Kolb’s accuracy – which has been a cause for concern over the past several days – seemed to improve vastly on Monday, the defense was still making big plays and proving there is work to be done by the new starting quarterback.

Samuel was back in full pads and playing at 100 percent, making plays all over the field. With defensive end Juqua Parker sat out of practice (players over 30), rookie Brandon Graham stepped in opposite Trent Cole and continued to impress spectators with both his run- and pass-defense. Ellis Hobbs continued to work on coverage, while the linebacker corps of Sims, Stewart Bradley and Akeem Jordan held their own, as they’ve been doing during nearly every day for the past three weeks.

But it was Demps who stood out above the rest, working well in coverage for the majority of the morning practice, including a great read on a Michael Vick pass that he intercepted and would have taken it back for a touchdown, if it had been in an actual game.

Coming off a forgettable sophomore year, Demps has been doing a fine job of proving that he has the capability to redeem himself with his play in camp thus far. And in his most recent interview, he blamed himself for his poor play in the past.

“I’m just happy to be running around and to be playing football right now,” he said. “Last year was kind of a season to build for me, but I look at this season as kind of a rebuilding year for me and one for finding my niche in this game. I really want to set a foundation for my future. The thing is, I have the hunger and the humbleness this year. Last year, I was too cocky and I was talking too much. I was trying to be a Pro Bowler before I ever was a starter, so I’m just trying to set the foundation right now and get better every day.”

Reid has noticed the change in Demps’ play over the past few weeks.

“He has been making plays and he has been doing well and that’s a plus,” he said. “That’s why we brought him here and why we drafted him. He had a few mistakes last year and things didn’t work out for him, but he’s had a great offseason and he is a guy who is very strong in this game.”

For a player that had 17 interceptions in college and only one in his two-year career, Demps knows that he needs to play like he has been in camp and force more interceptions when the season comes.

“This game is all about turnovers,” he said. “We all know it. We see (Asante) and we see what he can do every day. I need to do a better job in that area and I need to help the defense more.”


Monday a big day for one running back

Bethlehem, Pa J.J. Arrington sat out of Monday morning’s practice with an injured foot. Mike Bell continued to rest an injured hamstring and LeSean McCoy, while having a good showing in the first hour, was taken to the locker room early with heat exhaustion.

And while rookie Charles Scott only had himself to blame while continuing to drop easy passes coming out of the backfield, it was Eldra Buckley who was the center of attention as far as tailbacks were concerned.

The second-year running back picked a hell of a day to have easily his best showing, shining in the backfield while being the primary back for a majority of the two-hour practice.

Buckley made several catches coming out of the backfield, including a sliding catch on one-on-ones 20 yards downfield. And after McCoy left for cooler pastures, Buckley took handoff after handoff and hit the hole with power nearly every down, much to the delight of Coach Reid.

“He’s a very, very competitive, tough guy,” said Reid of Buckley. “He has good feet and good vision and he knows how to receive a football. The thing that stands out to me is that he’s an extremely tough human being. I really liked what I saw from him out there.”

Buckley has a good chance at making the 53-man roster, as Scott is listed as a fullback behind starter Leonard Weaver. With Arrington and Bell sidelined with injuries, Buckley’s chances at being the Eagles’ number-two back can only increase.

Buckley didn’t last the entire day, however, as the 5-foot-9, 207-pound running back was carted off in the final moments of practice. At the morning press conference, Reid said the heat got to Buckley and he was taken inside as a precautionary measure.

As for McCoy, Reid likes what he sees from his second-round pick from 2009.

“LeSean is handling himself very well,” Reid said. “He’s running very hard and is in great shape and ready to roll.”


McGlynn continues to step in while linemen rest injuries

Bethlehem, Pa – As offensive linemen Todd Herremans, Jamaal Jackson and Nick Cole all stayed out of Monday morning’s practice with injuries, former Pitt-product Mike McGlynn stepped in with the first team for yet another day and as he’s done since he first was asked to fill the role, he’s held his own.

McGlynn, who also blocked for current Eagles’ running back LeSean “Shady” McCoy at college, joined starters Jason Peters and Winston Justice on the offensive line and has continued to impress Coach Reid – a former offensive lineman – with his footwork and ability and primarily, his run-blocking abilities.

“We have eight, nine…potentially 10 guys on this team who could fight for a spot on the offensive line,” Reid said. “We have 10 guys who can really bring it. They have motors out there and they love the game. The guys who have stepped in and have a tremendous camp and I’d be happy with any one of them out there.”

McGlynn, who is starting to settle in with the same group of players, isn’t worrying about whether or not he will start this year and says he is just trying to do the job asked of him.

“We’ve been playing for three days together now and we’re picking it up really well,” the offensive lineman said. “We’re getting familiar with each other and I think the guys are feeling more and more comfortable with me each day. We’re going in the right direction and I plan on continuing to come out here and do what I’ve been doing. It’s not my job to decide who does what.”

With the first depth chart released on Monday, in advance of Friday evening’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Eagles have made some decisions on who will protect the quarterbacks.

Undrafted free agent offensive tackle signing Austin Howard (6-foot-7, 333 pounds) is listed as the backup left tackle, while second-year pro King Dunlap, who stands at 6-foot-9, 330 pounds, is listed as the backup right tackle. Jason Peters takes the starting left tackle role, while Winston Justice will hold down the other tackle role.

Injury report:

-While Monday’s practice at Eagles training camp featured no major injuries, several players left practice for a variety for reasons, while others sat out with lingering injuries. Andy Reid commented on the injuries after the day’s first practice.

DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Eldra Buckley and (DE) Ricky Sapp all left the morning practice because of the heat. Jackson and Buckley left the field with only minutes remaining in the practice (Jackson on his own power), while McCoy left practice about mid-way through and never returned.

-Second-year tight end Cornelius Ingram sat out of practice with what Reid called a “swollen knee.” The Florida University-product, who was complaining of pain in his calf on Sunday, has already had two ACL tears in the same leg as the current injury. Reid said that the injury moved down from Ingram’s knee to his calf, but was resting on Monday because of swelling in his knee. The extent of the injury, with the previous injuries, is currently unknown.

-Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon continued to sit out with a concussion. Reid said is he is improving and it “shouldn’t be too much longer” until his return. Todd Herremans and Jamaal Jackson are also improving, according to Reid, as is Mike Bell. The coach also says Victor Abiamiri is “doing better.”

-Reid said safety Macho Harris still has a ways to go before he returns from his hamstring injury. “He’s running, but he’s still not there,” Reid said.

-Wide receiver Hank Baskett sustained a sprained MCL in practice yesterday and did not practice today.

Other notables:

-Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin was back in practice with full pads and taking part in all drills after sustaining a hypextended left knee last week. The starting receiver appeared to be at 100 percent. DeSean Jackson had yet another stellar day on the field before leaving because of the heat.

-Though he sat out of Monday’s practice as a “player over 30,” Juqua Parker is listed as starter at left end according to the first released depth chart. The job appears to be his to lose, unless rookie Brandon Graham can impress coaches enough between now and the start of the year.

-Fourth-round pick Trevard Lindley (CB) is listed with the third-team defense on the initial depth chart. Moise Fokou is listed as the backup to Akeem Jordan at strong-side linebacker.

LeSean McCoy dropped two passes coming out of the backfield. He has three in the past two days.

Trevor Laws (DT) practiced with the first team for a few plays, but primarily has been playing with the second-team defense.

-Prior to practice, the Eagles released tight end Martin Rucker and picked up tight end Nate Lawrie, who was a member of the Bengals last season. Regarding the Yale-product, Reid said: “He has been here before and we think he makes us better right now at camp. He should be an effective player. He’s a combination player.”

-Kicker David Akers was given the day off. Back-up Ken Parrish badly missed several kicks from inside 40 yards.

-Defensive tackle Keenan Clayton was back on the field after sustaining an injury over the weekend.

-Starting tight end Brent Celek dropped two wide open passes from Kevin Kolb.

-Wide receiver Kelley Washington is doing his best job to prove why he deserves the final wide receiver spot. The 6-foot-3, 222-pound receiver has caught nearly every pass that has been thrown his way during camp. If the final spot comes down between Washington and Baskett, Washington should get the nod.

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Mike Prince writes for PSC, the Montgomery News and on his Blog.  You can also Follow him on Twitter.

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