The Eagles opened three weeks of organized team activities (OTAs) on Tuesday as we (reporters) got our first full practice look at the 2016 team. Here are some notes and observations from a rainy session at the NovaCare Complex:
-- There were a few no shows: Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was absent as he's been throughout all of the spring. Cox is sitting out as the Eagles negotiate a contract extension. Mandatory minicamp isn't until June 7-9. Running back Darren Sproles was also missing. He hasn't been in Philly all offseason, as well. There was a report that the Eagles had talked to teams about a trade during the draft and that Sproles was staying away until that situation worked itself out, but coach Doug Pederson said that the Eagles weren't trading Sproles or that he wanted to be dealt. Sproles hasn't responded to a text message.
-- There were several injured players that either participated in some of practice or not at all. Linebacker Jordan Hicks watched team drills. Pederson said he was held back because of tightness in his legs. Cornerback Nolan Carroll took part in individual drills, but went inside for the second part of practice. He's still recovering from last year's broken ankle. Cornerback JaCorey Shepherd didn't practice. He's still not 100 percent cleared after last year's torn ACL. Kicker Cody Parkey (groin) was mostly a spectator. Defensive tackle Beau Allen was missing. He was excused for a personal reason. Rookie offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo won't be at OTAs because Oregon State still has classes.
-- Pederson's practices, needless to say, are much different than Chip Kelly's. The pace isn't as frenetic. The music, while there is some during special teams and other portions, isn't as omnipresent. There aren't as many thingamajigy contraptions. There's a little more standing around. There aren't as many repetitions to go around. It's difficult to say which method is better or even if there is a better or worse. One thing is for certain: They're different and the holdovers will have to adjust.
-- Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich spent a lot of time working with the quarterbacks during individual drills. Offensive-minded coaches typically spend more time with the position, but Sam Bradford, Carson Wentz and Chase Daniel got essentially one-on-one coaching with quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in the mix, as well. The Eagles are going with just three quarterbacks for now after McLeod Bethel-Thompson was released today.
-- Bradford took reps with the first team, Daniel with the second and Wentz with the third – no surprise there, despite Bradford's recent trade request. Pederson said after practice that the starting job remained Bradford's and that Wentz has a long way to go. Bradford and Wentz are similarly sized in terms of height and frame, but Wentz has a thicker base and could stand to add more bulk up top.
-- The first team offense, more or less, was: QB: Bradford; WRs: Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor; TEs: Brent Celek, Zach Ertz; RB: Ryan Mathews; LT: Jason Peters; LG: Alan Barbre; C: Jason Kelce; RG: Brandon Brooks; RT: Lane Johnson. Second team offensive line: LT: Matt Tobin, LG: Malcolm Bunch; C: Stefen Wisniewski; RG: Barrett Jones; RT: Dennis Kelly. Third team offensive line: LT: Andrew Gardner; LG: Josh Andrews; C: Bruce Johnson; RG: Darrell Greene; RT: Halapoulivaati Vaitai. The second and third team skill positions had multiple rotations (as did the first team, for that mater). Matthews lined up outside and in the slot, but so did most of the receivers. It's the spring and, therefore, depth charts are merely nothing more than seating charts, as Kelly would say.
-- The first team defense, more or less, was: DEs: Vinny Curry, Connor Barwin; DTs: Bennie Logan, Taylor Hart; MIKE LB: Najee Goode; WIL LB: Mychal Kendricks; SAM LB: Nigel Bradham; CBs: Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks; Safeties: Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod. Eric Rowe took over for Brooks, who moved into the slot, in the nickel. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is probably starting his two former Bills at corner because of their familiarity with his scheme. That doesn't mean McKelvin won't end up winning the job.
-- The second team defense: DEs: Brandon Graham, Marcus Smith; DTs: Mike Martin, Destiny Vaeao; MIKE LB: Joe Walker; WIL LB: Deontae Skinner; SAM LB: Najee Goode; CBs: Rowe, Aaron Grymes; Safeties: Ed Reynolds, Jaylen Watkins. The third team defense: DEs: Alex McCalister, Bryan Braman; DTs: Aziz Shittu, Connor Wujciak; LBs: Myke Tavarres, Ty Powell, Quentin Gause; CBs: Denzel Rice, Randall Evans; Safeties: Chris Maragos, Blake Countess. Rookies Jalen Mills was also worked in at corner.