Eagles training camp practice notes, August 3: Jordan Matthews (yawn) wins the day
Jordan Matthews simply continues to make catch after catch after catch after catch after catch... (Yawn)... after catch after catch after... sorry, but that's just what is happening out here every day.
As a kid growing up, I was a big NBA fan, and I always found it funny whenever the MVP award didn't go to Michael Jordan. It got boring giving awards to a guy who was winning championships every year and endorsing every product imaginable. So the voters would just kind of go, "Well, Michael Jordan is averaging 32.6 points per game and he plays amazing defense, but let's just give it to Charles Barkley."
In my daily practice notes, I've been saying "(Player X) won the day" in the title. That seemed like a good idea when camp began, and I've tried to name a different player every day. Unfortunately, on some days it feels a bit disingenuous to give it to someone other than Matthews. So I guess we'll give it to Matthews again, with the same disclaimers that he's mostly playing against the second team defense, and his numbers probably won't be outlandish in 2014 because there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Eagles offense. But at this point, I'm kind of tired of writing about him, so let's just move on.
• Brandon Boykin is a player who has not been brought up much so far in camp. I think the lack of attention is just a by-product of his own success. During last year's training camp, he was clearly a player who had brought his game to the next level, and people took notice. Now when he makes a play, it's like, "Meh, I've seen it."
The biggest concern with Boykin in his young NFL career is that he is only 5'9, and therefore could struggle to cover bigger receivers. That sentiment will probably never stop. Boykin will be hearing about his size for the rest of his football life. Last season, the occasions in which Boykin was beaten by a bigger receiver -- specifically because the receiver was bigger -- were few and far between. But opposing offenses did try to test him. The Packers, for example, often lined 6'3 Jordy Nelson up in the slot against the Eagles. While Boykin made a number of big plays in Green Bay, the Packers were able to exploit Boykin's height on the play below.
Boykin has had some interesting battles with 6'7 Ifeanyi Momah. Today, Momah was able to bring in a high pass over Boykin. However, later in practice, on a deep ball to Momah, Boykin had position and could have made an interception, but Momah interfered. "He grabbed my shoulder pads and jerked me back," said Boykin, "and I didn't appreciate that. That would been a pick for me, but he didn't want me to get it. That's how it goes."
According to Boykin, it's just a coincidence that he and Momah have been matched up quite a bit of late, but it's good practice for Boykin to get in some reps against a bigger wide receiver.
• Najee Goode had nice coverage on several occasions today. On at least two of the rare occasions a ball was thrown to Jordan Matthews and he didn't make the catch, it was because Goode was in good position when Matthews ran through his zone.
• Nolan Carroll has been praised by pretty much everyone for his ability to knock down passes throughout camp. Today Carroll got first team reps on defense, and therefore saw better competition. But his play at CB aside, I also like what I see from Carroll as a kick returner. In 2010, Carroll returned 27 kicks for a 24.3 yard average. There isn't a lot of shake and bake with Carroll on his kick returns. It's north-south running, without a lot of nonsense. He isn't often thought of as one of the guys would could get kick return opportunities this season with Darren Sproles, Josh Huff and Brad Smith all in the mix. But if Carroll doesn't earn a starting job at CB, he too could potentially contribute as a returner.
• Bradley Fletcher, playing with the second team today, had a nice afternoon. He picked off Nick Foles on a play in which Arrelious Benn slipped, and he had blanket coverage on a deep ball to Damaris Johnon in 1-on-1's. One thing to note with Fletcher is that he is a very physical corner. That's generally considered a good thing, but at times last season it worked against him. In 2013, Fletcher had six pass interference penalties. With the league expected to crack down on contact more than five yards down the field in 2014, Fletcher's handsy nature could be an issue.
• Wide receiver BJ Cunningham isn't projected by many to make the 53-man roster, but he has had a strong camp. Cunningham doesn't have one trait in particular that will wow you, but his overall game is solid. It will be interesting to see if he can almost force the Eagles to keep him if he has strong performances in the preseason games.
• Many of you have asked about DE Joe Kruger. I had a good opportunity to watch him rush the passer today, and came away thoroughly unimpressed. The third team right tackle was handling him with ease.
• Brent Celek had a really nice one-handed grab in the front corner of the end zone with Connor Barwin draped on him to end practice.
• In comparison to previous years, this Eagles training camp has been beyond boring. That's good for the team, bad for the media. I don't suspect the fans will shed a tear for us. Because the Eagles 2014 camp has been so boring, I've been reduced to taking video of WR Jeff Maehl riding a stationary bike and adding the theme song from "Pee Wee's Big Adventure." Apologies in advance for this:
Again, sorry if you watched the full 1:01.
Who won the day?
July 26: Mark Sanchez
July 27: Eagles running backs
July 28: Jordan Matthews
July 30: Malcolm Jenkins
July 31: Cary Williams
August 1: Nolan Carroll
August 3: Jordan Matthews
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski