The Eagles held their fifth practice of training camp on Friday. Here are some highlights and observations:
1. Sam Bradford had arguably his best practice of camp. Actually, I'm not sure anyone that has watched him this week could even make a counter argument. He was pretty much on target all day. I don't want to make too much of an early August practice, but Bradford took a positive step forward. He sprinkled his passes around. He connected with WR Jordan Matthews deep down the sideline during 7 on 7s. He floated a pass to WR Riley Cooper on a fade in front of CB Eric Rowe. He then went back to Matthews on a swing pass. During team red zone drills, Bradford found TE Trey Burton in the end zone and again just shy of the goal line. He threw a dart to WR Miles Austin on a slant route, but Austin just flat out dropped the ball in the end zone. And towards the end of practice, Bradford found TE Brent Celek alone deep after a busted coverage.
2. Mark Sanchez wasn't as sharp it seemed. He got a few series with the first team offense, but spent most of his day with the second teamers. Sanchez overshot WR Nelson Agholor near the sideline early on. He threw a pass that rookie CB Randall Evans broke up. He tossed a dime to Cooper on a deep post. But he ended his day with an interception to CB Jaylen Watkins.
3. Agholor has had his ups and downs thus far. He's a rookie. That happens more often than not. Matthews was one of those rare receivers that came in right away and hardly ever looked lost. I still think it's only a matter of time before Agholor starts stealing snaps away from Cooper and WR Josh Huff, but he hasn't yet made a strong claim to supplant those guys. And Chip Kelly won't rush him. Agholor had some early struggles on Friday. He dropped a pass during 3 on 2 drills and had CB Byron Maxwell knock a pass away that he probably should have pulled in. But he stood out later, once catching a Bradford pass with his fingertips. Good hands. He made a difficult catch in the back of the end zone later on, but couldn't get both feet in.
4. The Eagles had their largest cast of injured. LB Kiko Alonso missed his second practice in a row because of a concussion. RB DeMarco Murray returned after missing Thursday with an unspecified illness, but he didn't participate much except to work with the training staff. LB Mychal Kendricks and TE Zach Ertz didn't practice, but did some work with the trainers. The Eagles didn't provide any details about their injuries. Ertz ran off the field and said he was fine. I didn't catch Kendricks. CB Jerome Couplin watched for the second straight day. He deferred to Kelly for injury information. Kelly talks tomorrow before practice.
5. Andrew Gardner took his turn at right guard with the first team. The Eagles have also shuffled Matt Tobin and John Moffitt into that spot. It's clear that job is up for grabs. Najee Goode and Emmanuel Acho took a number of starters' reps with Alonso and Kendricks out. Goode has drifted into the background with all the additions at inside linebacker, but defensive coordinator Bill Davis had a part time role carved out for him before he suffered a season-ending torn biceps in last year's opener. Chris Maragos was at first team safety alongside Malcolm Jenkins for the second day. Rowe got his second straight day of action at first team cornerback. Burton took more snaps with the first two teams with Ertz out.
6. It's difficult to make any definitive statements about Marcus Smith's progress. Kelly and Davis have been optimistic about his development, but answers won't start coming until the preseason. He doesn't look as lost as he did a year ago this time, however. The Eagles practiced setting the edge during one drill that pitted the outside linebackers vs. tight ends. Smith faced off against Burton during one set and seemed to do his job of stringing the blocker out wide and getting off. Brad Jones, who has been taking more snaps at outside linebacker after Travis Long's season-ending ACL injury, could now be Smith's chief competition for that third OLB spot. The Eagles' latest addition to the roster – Diaheem Watkins – appeared to struggle with the finer points of the drill. Rookie tight ends Justin Tukes and Andrew Gleichert had their way with him during one on ones. To be fair to Watkins, he was a defensive end in college and is learning a new position.
7. S Earl Wolff has been a full participant all week. He's been buried on the third team, but the fact that he hasn't suffered a setback is positive news after he missed most of the spring. Wolff said that his knee doesn't feel perfect, but that it's much better than a year ago and that he feels better every day. It still looks like he runs with a slight hitch, however. Wolff delivered the hit of camp thus far when he pummeled WR Quron Pratt. "We were in a bracket coverage and if he inside releases I got him and if he outside releases then the corner has him," Wolff said. "So he inside released and I saw him coming. Honestly, I'm not trying to kill nobody. But I decided to run myself up a little bit and give him a pop."
8. The third quarterback competition continues to generate attention even though it is far down on the list of concerns. Matt Barkley told reporters after practice that he wasn't worried about Tim Tebow or his hype. I wouldn't expect Barkley to feel threatened, but the fact is Tebow is here for a reason and the Eagles obviously think he can contribute. Whether that means he'll make the team, I don't know. But Kelly has made his feelings about Barkley fairly clear – he still hasn't moved him up the depth chart after two years – and Barkley hasn't yet distanced himself from Tebow. He's clearly the better thrower, but he didn't have his "A" game on Friday. He tossed an ill-advised jump ball to Pratt, who was surrounded by three defenders. The ball bounced around and into S Chris Prosinski's hands. Barkley later tossed a strike to Gleichert over the top for a touchdown. Before practice Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur called Tebow a "gamer." Does that mean he's not a "practicer?" Tebow had a decent day, I guess. He found Pratt in the back corner of the end zone when he rolled left and at the last second flicked a shovel pass to the receiver.
9. The Eagles had the linemen square off in one on ones. It was difficult to get a good view from where I was standing, but I watched DE Taylor Hart intently. Hart was inactive all of last season. I'm interested to see if he's ready after adding around 20 pounds in the last year. I can't claim to know exactly what the coaches want out of their linemen during these drills. Andy Reid used to have his linemen go at each other at full speed. That isn't the case here. They hit and battle, but it lasts for only a few moments. Hart did seem to lose ground against both OL Julian Vandervelde and OL Josh Andrews.
10. Cody Parkey has no competition in camp. He's the Eagles kicker after a stellar rookie season. The Eagles opened practice with field goal drills. Parkey, as far as I could tell from my vantage point, made every kick, including a 50-plus yarder that had his teammates hooting and hollering.