Mark Sanchez was very good on the Eagles' first day of practices at training camp. Early on during team drills, he threw a pair of accurate bombs, and then later he hit Darren Sproles in stride on a wheel route about 30 yards down the field. The overwhelming feeling among the media was that Mark Sanchez looked bad in OTAs and minicamp, and I don't disagree. However, he also occasionally looked pretty good. He showed he could fit passes into tight windows, and make tough sideline throws with zip and accuracy.
And then there were moments where his passes were nowhere near anyone. He would often throw to empty spaces in the middle of the field. It was difficult trying to figure out what he was looking at and what he was trying to do. When you see passes that don't make any sense, more than likely they're miscommunications with receivers.
Sanchez was just beginning to learn the offense, and he still is. In June, on a new team, his erratic play was probably to be expected. If he continues to make a high number of weird throws now that we're in training camp, it's more concerning. But on the first day of training camp, it was all good from the Sanchize, and past history says that at some point this season, the Eagles will need him.
• Matt Barkley was also much better today than what he showed in OTAs. His accuracy and velocity were both improved.
• The Eagles are running a lot of wheel routes to the running backs. In addition to Sproles beating the defense on a wheel route as noted above, LeSean McCoy toasted Connor Barwin on the same pattern. The ball did not come Shady's way, but he was sure to let Barwin know he beat him after the play.
• In the kicker competition, both Alex Henery and Murderleg went 4/5 on field goal attempts. Murderleg was 4/4 until his final kick, and he had a chance to win the day... but he pushed it right.
I also watched them on kickoffs. Henery kicked off three times during one portion of the practice, and his kickoffs were as follows: 4 yards deep in the end zone, 7 yards deep, 2 yards deep. Murderleg on the other hand, had two kickoffs that I observed. One was fielded at about the one yard line, the other at the 14 on a wobbly line drive. It's not a good sign when Alex Henery is clearly better than you on kickoffs.
• Staying with special teams, Damaris Johnson fumbled in a non-contract drill and Josh Huff muffed an ugly looking line drive kickoff.
• Allen Barbre got first team reps at RT. Yesterday, Nick Foles said Barbre looks like a caveman. I concur.
• Nolan Carroll was very impressive in OTAs and minicamp. Today, he had a nice pass breakup on Ifeanyi Momah.
• One day in OTAs, rookie TE Blake Annen had consecutive bad drops in TE drills. Assistant TE coach Justin Peelle fired the first two passes in that Annen dropped, and Annen had to go back to the front of the line after each drop to try again. Peelle then lobbed the third one in to make sure he caught it so they could move on to the next guy. That's not good. Annen had another bad drop in TE drills today. Of the two rookie free agent tight ends the Eagles signed after the draft, Trey Burton out of Florida seems to have a better chance of making the roster than Annen.
• Matthew Tucker got some first team reps throughout the day today at running back. Normally I would say that's meaningless, as players you might expect would be third team guys or lower are occasionally given opportunities to run with the ones. However, I found it interesting that he was mixed in with the first team on the first day of camp. With Bryce Brown gone, there are opportunities at running back. Just something to watch for going forward.
• The third team defensive line for the Eagles today was DE Frances Mays, NT Wade Keliikipi, and the Army Ranger dude, DE Alejandro Villanueava. In everyday life, Keliikipi is is a huge human being, at 6'2, 303 pounds. However, when he's book-ended by Mays (6'9, 291) and Villanueva (6'9, 277), he looks like a shrimp.
• James Casey had a pair of one-handed catches today. The first was in individual drills. He brought in a Matt Barkley pass in the back of the end zone and was also able to keep his feet in bounds. Then later, he had another one-handed stab in team drills about 20 yards down the field. Nice day for him. Last year, Casey battled some injuries in the offseason, and never got much playing time. It will be interesting to see if his role increases this season if he's able to stay healthy through a full camp.
• Rookie CB Jaylen Watkins was in good position on a pair of pass plays today. Malcolm Jenkins also was in good position to make a play on a ball, but dropped the INT.
• The Eagles were in shorts today, like they were throughout OTAs. Therefore, I did not pay much attention to the offensive and defensive line. We'll take a closer look at them when they put the pads on.
July 26: Mark Sanchez