The Wednesday, August 4 morning practice at Eagles training camp featured much more hitting and very few injuries.
Rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper out of the University of Florida continued his stellar week, catching all four passes thrown his way, including three in-a-row – one of which was an impressive one-handed grab that got the attention of the fans in attendance. Cooper continues to use his speed to outrun defensive backs and beat defenders on routes. Cooper, especially with Kolb, appears to have the timing down of the quarterback and there wasn’t a single moment of practice to show that they weren’t on the same page.
The newest Eagle wide receiver, Kelley Washington, made three catches in the 7-on-7 drills and continues to fight for one of the final two receiver spots, along with Cooper.
On the injury front, Mike Bell, Jordan Norwood, Victor Abiamiri, Jamaal Jackson, Todd Herremans and Martin Rucker all took part in drills on the side field, participating in non-contact practice while their respective injuries heal.
DeSean Jackson (lower back) and Asante Samuel (hamstring) were both back at practice for the first time in two days. The two Pro Bowlers were wearing shorts and no pads while working out separately and taking part in minimal drills. Jackson appeared to be in minimal pain while walking.
Quarterback Michael Vick ran the wildcat formation in the 11-on-11 goal line full contract drills, running in two touchdowns on play action spreads that saw Vick beat his defenders to the outside for the scores.
Charles Scott, the rookie running back from LSU, got several touches in the morning session. Scott had minimal playing time after dropping two short passes on Monday morning.
Kevin Kolb found Dobson Collins for a 20-yard pass to the left sideline. Kolb found Cooper twice and hit McCoy with a few screen passes. Rookie quarterback Mike Kafka found Washington twice, while also missing a few receivers with overthrown passes.
Leonard Weaver was solid from the ground in the full contact drills, as was LeSean McCoy, who didn’t see too much time on the field on a day that was noticeably hotter than any of the previous days at camp.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who was initially diagnosed with a hyperextended knee after getting hit on Tuesday, had his injury downgraded to a bone bruise and is now listed as day-to-day, according to Coach Marty Mornhinwig.
Macho Harris (hamstring) still remains out of practice and Head Coach Andy Reid has no timetable on his return. Offensive lineman Stacy Andrews (shoulder) was back at practice, while Nick Cole and Mike McGlynn were still taking snaps with the first team. Cole had a number of low snaps while under center.
Perhaps the most impressive player on the field Wednesday morning was kicker David Akers, who sailed nine field goal kicks through the uprights in as many attempts. Of the nine he hit, the 35-year old veteran hit field goals from distances of inside 40 yards, as well as ones from 46, 49 and 52 yards out. His final two kicks from 54 yards out sailed through the uprights with plenty of room to spare. Akers’ leg appears to be strong as ever on kickoffs and on field goals. His kicks earned the loudest reception from the crowd all morning.
Two other moments that brought the crowd to their feet were two mammoth hits on running back Eldra Buckley. The third year back, on two passing plays, was leveled by linebacker Stewart Bradley, who was back on the field for the entire practice after missing time here and there with a hamstring injury over the past few days. The first hit left Buckley on the ground for only a few seconds, while the second hit, which appeared to have linebacker Ernie Sims right in the middle of the play, left Buckley on the field for close to a minute while he tried to catch his breath. Buckley’s helmet went flying off on the second hit.
On the hits, Buckley said: “I was just trying to get back in the game and I’m not mad at (Bradley) at all. The first day you get here is football time and from the time we step out here, we know everyone is out here to play hard. I have to step my game up. I don’t know exactly what happened out there, but we had a battle. It took me a little bit (of time) to get up, but I just had to shake it off and I’m alright. That’s just the nature of the game. I can’t say anything about that.”
After practice, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie spoke to the media regarding Vick’s current situation.
Vick met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday to talk about his future in the NFL and Vick was left without any added disciplinary action, though Goodell said that he is “expected to be held to a higher standard.”
On Vick, Lurie said: “We expect a lot out of him…We won’t tolerate any wrong-doing….Let us give support and not pass judgment. We need to find a more humane way to address these situations.”
On Vick’s birthday party incident, Lurie said: “It was a mistake for him to be at….He was trying to appease people from his old neighborhood….We’ll do everything we can to give him a good support system. People don’t want to believe (Vick) has been great, but he has.”
On the trading of Donovan McNabb to division rival Washington, Lurie said: “Like Green Bay did with (Aaron Rodgers), we felt the time was right to get value for McNabb…That really was the philosophy. We never hesitated to make the right trades..Washington made us the best offer.”
Lurie said he is “Happy for Donovan and the situation he has with his new coach.” He also called Rodgers “the best young quarterback in the NFL today.”
“This is a great opportunity for us to benefit,” said Lurie regarding Kolb being the new Eagles’ quarterback.
After practice, Vick spoke about his meeting with Goodell and how relieved he was that he is now able to move past everything.
“I’m very relieved,” Vick said. “I can now focus on football and that’s what I’ve been trying to do the last couple weeks anyway. I try to think about moving forward.”
When asked about his meeting with Goodell, Vick said: “We had a great conversation. We’re on the same page now. I understand everything that I’m supposed to be doing and what I’m not supposed to do. It was a great meeting.”
On being told he will be held to a higher level, Vick said: “It means exactly what you said – a higher standard. In every phase of my life, it’s not a problem. No biggie there. I’m a changed man anyway. That will be easy for me. Trust me. I would always welcome extra support and I’ll take it, I’ll use it to my advantage whether I need to or not. I’ll see how I feel and raise my expectations for myself and for myself with my family. It is a good thing to have in my back pocket. For the most part, I’m just going to walk the walk.”
When asked about his expectations with the Eagles, how the training camp workouts and conditioning compare to his college workouts and how he plans on improving his game, first-round pick and rookie defensive end Brandon Graham shared his thoughts on camp thus far.
“It’s just fun going out there and competing every day,” the Michigan product said. “I just ask the offensive line coaches and the offensive line what I need to work on. They see what I do and they see the advantages they have over me and I just try to work on those things. We go back and forth. They try to see what I’m looking for and I try to see what they’re looking for so we’re on the same page and always competing.”
When asked if he expects to be playing opposite Trent Cole at the top of the depth chart when the season starts, Graham said: “That’s the goal. Right now, I’m just learning as much as I can and (where I am) is up to the coaches after they see how well I perform. Right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.”
When asked if the practices and conditioning was harder for him at Eagles camp as compared to his time at Michigan, Graham said: “It’s pretty much the same. Michigan had me very prepared for the NFL. I’m not winded at all when I’m out there and I just make sure I get the mental prep done because I don’t mind the pressure or workouts too much. I came out here in good shape.”
The most relaxed player after the morning practice had to be Kelly Washington, who, besides joking with reporters, didn’t seem to know too much about his brand new teammates.
When asked why there is an “L” in “Kolb,” Washington said he never thought about it.
“I thought it was K-O-B when I got here. I can’t talk though – My name is Kelley, like a girl.”
When asked what his thoughts were on Macho Harris, Washington said: “Who is Macho? I wouldn’t know. I’d have to see him out there to see who he is at this point. I know nothing about right now, but I’m sure I’ll learn more about him when the games start.”
When Kolb was asked about going against Bradley, he mentioned how the linebacker picked him off earlier in the camp.
“What’s funny is we talk about the plays beforehand,” Kolb said. “Me and (Brent Celek) will team up on ‘Stew’ sometimes, but he picked me off and he has been ragging on me about that sometimes. Obviously, (Bradley) gets the short end of the stick because it’s two-on-one. We were competing against each other the whole time. We play video games a lot and we listen to music. We play Tiger Woods against each other and we even have water balloon wars. We once had one where it was us versus Kevin Curtis, Matt Schoebel and AJ Feeley. We had a lot of fun with that. That’s what camp is all about. We just try to have fun out here.”
While Bradley was finally back on the field for full contract drills and scrimmage after dealing with an injury earlier in the week, he was just happy to be back with the team after missing the entire 2009 season after tearing his ACL during the Eagles’ “Flight Night” at Lincoln Financial Field.
“You get tired of hitting your own guys because your buddies, but you have to hit someone and that’s one of the parts of training camp and you just get hungry to hit someone,” Bradley said. “It’s just fun to be back out there, for sure. You never want to hit someone on your own tea, but I love contact and I know I’ll get a different satisfaction when hitting someone not wearing the same jersey.”
Bradley was asked if his injury from last year is still in the back of his mind.
“We’re playing for a great cause and I don’t think about it,” he said. “We’re trying to raise money for a great cause and for so many good things and (Philadelphia) is my city so I’m happy to do it. I try to help people out as much as I can and I want to help the team as much as I can. It’s just another practice for us and I’m not worried about any superstitions.
Finally, when asked about his thoughts on his former collegiate football team, Nebraska, joining the Big Ten, Bradley laughed and said: “If there is going to be some new rivalries going on, then I don’t want to lose any of my fanbase here. There are some new guys on the team and I think (Nebraska) will be good, but the transfer should help the team and I’m excited. Maybe they’ll be a little more trash-talking going on with my neighbors and with the guys while playing. They’re crazy in Nebraska. It was a fun time there to say the least.”
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