Eagles Practice Observations: Agholor impresses; Bradford more mobile; Kiko and Kendricks together
Observations and notes off Monday's Eagles OTAs:
-- Nelson Agholor continued to make a strong impression. It should be noted that receivers tend to have the upper hand during spring workouts when defensive backs are restricted, but you can often see whether rookie receivers have at the very least the skills to compete at this level. Agholor clearly does. He's fast. Not DeSean Jackson fast, but he's gets down the field in a hurry. He's athletic. He made several catches when he out-jumped a defender. And he appears to run crisp routes.
On a Matt Barkley pass over the middle, Agholor high-pointed the ball and pulled it in. Later, when Tim Tebow threw a fade to his back shoulder in the end zone, Agholor went up and caught the ball away from his body. The Eagles' top pick had a good day. It's just one practice in shorts, but the signs so far suggest he was worth the investment.
-- Good news on the Sam Bradford front and his recovery from an ACL injury. He continued to progress in terms of how much he did in practice and looked a little more mobile than he had in the first two weeks of OTAs. Bradford told reporters after practice that he still couldn't definitively say that he would be 100 percent ready for the start of training camp.
He remained tentative with his steps during seven-on-seven drills – he sat out team drills again -- but Bradford took more snaps than he did last Tuesday (the last time the media was permitted to attend practice). His throws were mostly sharp. His best pass was a 30-yard beauty to tight end Zach Ertz down the seam.
-- The lone change on the first team offense came at right guard where Dennis Kelly was getting an opportunity this week. Matt Tobin and Andrew Gardner had previously been rotating at that spot. The new face likely has nothing to do with performance. Eagles coaches are just trying to get different looks and to see how players respond. On the defensive side of the ball, Walter Thurmond was at safety again with Malcolm Jenkins. The early prediction here is that Thurmond, despite having never played the position in the NFL, wins the job. Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll remained the starting cornerbacks.
-- Just four players could be listed as injured. Linebacker Marcus Smith (groin), safety Earl Wolff (knee), linebacker DeMeco Ryans (Achilles) and offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde (unknown) opened practice with the training staff. Smith said that he would be full go by Wednesday. When individual drills started, each player returned to his position group but Ryans and Smith participated while Wolff and Vandervelde either watched or did conditioning drills. Receiver Josh Huff, who sat out most of last Tuesday's practice with a groin injury, was back in action.
Defensive end Fletcher Cox and running back Darren Sproles were not at practice. The Eagles said they had no explanation. The practices are voluntary. Guard Evan Mathis was once again absent. He has yet to attend a spring workout.
-- With Ryans still not completely healthy, the Eagles haven't had to worry much about who will take the most first team reps at inside linebacker. Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks have been the primary "starters." Alonso suffered his ACL injury a month before Bradford, but he has practiced without a knee brace and has looked nimble. The apparent logjam at inside linebacker and how the Eagles plan to use all three starting-quality players should be one of the more intriguing storylines during training camp.
-- As for how the other quarterbacks performed, Mark Sanchez had another Mark Sanchez-practice, in that he looked substantially better than he did a year ago this time. Sanchez took all the first team reps. He did become the first quarterback to hit one of those fly swatter-thingamagingys that simulate defensive linemen during 7 on 7s during an open-to-the-media OTA.
Matt Barkley was the main second team quarterback during team drills. He had another solid day. Tim Tebow looked a little more consistent than he had during my previous two visits to practice. The back shoulder pass to Agholor was well executed. He did fine with short passes and even hit a wide-open Matthew Tucker on a wheel route to end practice. But when asked to throw downfield or into tight passes, Tebow had issues. He tried to thread a pass to a receiver near the goal line (I couldn't catch who it was), but threw behind him and rookie cornerback Eric Rowe tipped to ball to himself for an interception.
-- A few quick hitters … During quarterback individual drills, Byron Maxwell has been the lone receiver catching passes. I haven't had an opportunity yet to ask why it's his responsibility. … Receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, who was signed this offseason after a stint with the Chargers, was able to get open for several catches. … Brad Jones, who was signed as a hybrid linebacker, worked on the outside during 7-on-7 and team drills.