The Eagles held their 13th open practice of training camp on Wednesday, this one the first of three joint workouts with the Baltimore Ravens. Here are some highlights and observations:
1. After more than two years of covering Chip Kelly's practices, the loud music and frenetic tempo have become customary. I never thought I would miss the noise and a pace so quick that I often can't keep up with my notes, but Wednesday's first intersquad session between the Eagles and Ravens lacked juice. Kelly's offense actually huddled for the first two or three team portions. It never normally does that. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after practice that there weren't any agreed-upon terms when it came to pace. Kelly did bump up the tempo later. The whole practice lasted about two hours – a typical length for the Eagles – although the Ravens got to work about 20 minutes prior. Harbaugh said he usually goes three hours. Speaking of juice, Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith didn't seem overwhelmed by the Eagles' pace. (Although why would he? They weren't going at normal speed.) "Have you heard about our practices?" Smith said. "We're three hours. … This is like apple juice."
2. There has been a spate of fights during joint practices this summer, some of them nasty, but the Eagles and Ravens kept their cool for the most part. Kelly frowns upon fighting. To him, it's wasted energy and time. Cary Williams got into a bit of a brawl with a Patriots receiver two years ago and was yanked from practice. That was the last scrap the Eagles had in their workouts with the Patriots over the two previous years. There were a few chippy moments on Wednesday, though. Ravens safety Will Hill gave Jordan Matthews a little pop at the end of a play that sent the Eagles receiver to the ground. Matthews got up and appeared to have hurt his arm. He glared at Hill as he walked off the field stretching his arm. Matthews later returned. There was also a brief scuffle between the Eagles' third-team offense and the Ravens' third-unit defense. Quarterback Tim Tebow jumped into the mix, and both sides almost instantly parted. Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report quipped that Tebow parted the players "like the Red Sea."
3. The Eagles were without only two players: Zach Ertz (groin) and Earl Wolff (knee). Neither was at practice. DeMeco Ryans returned. He didn't participate in team drills and neither did Kiko Alonso, who returned from his concussion on Tuesday. Ryans and Alonso did more than the Eagles' other injured inside linebacker, Mychal Kendricks. They were with the first-team defense during some 7-on-7 drills, while Kendricks watched. The Eagles and Kendricks have declined to identify his injury. DeMarco Murray was active once again. Asked if he will play in Saturday's game against the Ravens, the Eagles running back said, "We'll see, but I feel great." Murray also said that if the season started tomorrow, he could play.
4. After individual drills, the Eagles and Ravens finally converged for one-on-one drills. It looked as if the Eagles defense fared better vs. the Ravens offense than vice versa, but it was difficult to ping-pong back and forth to both fields. A few highlights: Eagles cornerback Marc Anthony, who was recently acquired, stepped in front of a Joe Flacco pass to receiver Jeremy Butler for an interception. Ravens 6-foot-6 rookie receiver Darren Waller got behind Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll, but Carroll knocked the ball away at the last moment. Bennie Logan carried over his impressive play in the preseason opener into defensive line-offensive line one-on-ones. The Ravens' Ryan Jensen had a difficult time holding his ground against Logan. Eagles linebacker Marcus Smith tried a bull rush vs. second-year Ravens tackle James Hurst and couldn't get by him. When he tried to spin out, he fell to the ground. Andrew Gardner more than held his own during his one-on-one sessions.
5. Speaking of Gardner, he was back at right guard with the first team. The job is clearly his to lose. With Ryans, Alonso and Kendricks missing from team drills, the Eagles continued to shuffle in every remaining inside linebacker on the roster, even new guy Deontae Skinner. Smith took a number of reps at first-team outside linebacker in Connor Barwin's "Jack" spot.
6. Sam Bradford handled most of the work with the first-team offense, although both Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley got opportunities with the starters. Most of Bradford's throws came underneath and were accurate. He did hit Matthews on a mid-range pass down the middle. A couple of bubble screens were errant: Bradford short-hopped Darren Sproles and had another to Sproles batted to the ground by a leaping Kyle Arrington.
7. The Eagles worked a fair amount on their run game. Murray, Mathews and Sproles all got reps with the first team, although Murray was first up. There wasn't any tackling to the ground, or even aggressive "thudding," but he shot through a gaping hole off the inside zone read. Mathews had success on the outside zone read and a sweep place that had Bradford flipping the ball to his running back. Sproles was "dropped" in the backfield once when Ravens outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw came in unblocked.
8. Based on part-time viewing – team drills for both sides were being held at the same time on different fields -- I thought the Eagles' secondary fared well against Flacco and company. Eric Rowe was the first-team slot receiver. I'll have more on the rookie corner in a column. Eagles safety Walter Thurmond picked up an interception on, I believe, a Matt Schaub pass. DE Vinny Curry got more looks at outside linebacker. During red-zone drills, Flacco rolled to his right but had nowhere to go and threw the ball out of bounds.
9. Cody Parkey's struggles continued. It's too early to panic, and he could be working on some technique things, but the Eagles kicker was 7 for 10 during field-goal drills. He missed a PAT-like attempt, hit one of the uprights from about 42 yards out and was way wide left from approximately 47 yards. A true team guy, Parkey was essentially the ball boy during punt drills, and handled spotting the football between plays.