2014 Eagles ‘light years’ ahead of last year’s squad and more observations at OTAs

2014 Eagles ‘light years’ ahead of last year’s squad and more observations at OTAs

Full-squad OTAs have been underway at the NovaCare Complex since Tuesday, but Thursday marked the first day the media was invited to take in a practice. It’s also the first time Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spoke to reporters since the draft.

For everyone except the Dallas Cowboys apparently, practices at this point in the year are all non-contact, and there’s only so much you can learn about players when they’re in shorts and T-shirts. One thing Kelly did mention though, which several reporters have since confirmed, is the Eagles are moving even faster during OTAs than they did one year ago.

“Light years” faster.

Before you ask how a team could possibly move any faster than the Eagles did in 2013, Kelly is referring to last year’s OTAs. Obviously, this time a year ago, every little practice detail was new to practically all 90 players, save for maybe a few who went to Oregon. Now, most of the roster knows what to expect, which undoubtedly makes it a lot easier for newcomers to fall in line as well.

Will familiarity with Kelly’s ways help the Birds hit the ground running come September? It probably couldn’t hurt. We tend to overlook the fact that this club got off to a 1-3 start and fell to 3-5 before rattling off wins in six of their final seven contests.

Anything that indicates the Eagles are better prepared for the season ahead can’t be a bad sign.

Then again, we really can’t read too much into anything this time of year. Just remember, this is still very early stages of the offseason, but I think we can all appreciate the appetite for any kind of Eagles news right now.

 

• Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Been and linebacker Jason Phillips are all full participants after sustaining torn ACLs early in training camp last summer. Time will tell how their recovery is going, but the first step is getting back on the field.

Jimmy Kempski for Philly.com already notes Phillips does not appear to be full speed.

 

• At this point in time, safety seems to be the only starting job on either side of the ball that’s truly up for grabs. That being said, it should come as no surprise that Nate Allen would be listed first on the depth chart. The fifth-year veteran started all 16 games last season, improving gradually as time went on. He was actually fairly reliable down the stretch.

However, right now, it might be just a matter of somebody has to go first. I wouldn’t rule out Earl Wolff overtaking Allen at some point based on how the lineup looks like in May.

 

• Wouldn’t look too deep into Mark Sanchez’s performance at this point, either. Have to think he’s still learning the offense and getting timing down with his receivers. And while several reporters remark he is taking second-team snaps behind Nick Foles to start, I wouldn’t rule out Matt Barkley winning the backup job if Sanchez did struggle.

 

• I’m sure Chip would love it if the rest of the league continues to view Darren Sproles as a running back so he continues to draw favorable matchups in coverage, but the numbers suggest otherwise. He’s not a guy you’re ever going to hand the ball to 15-20 times in a game.

 

• Marcus Smith’s versatility, not his pass-rush ability, may be the quickest way to earn the first-round pick playing time as a rookie. Let’s face it, Trent Cole held his own in that role last season, but it’s not his forte, nor will it ever be as the two-time Pro Bowler approaches 32 years of age.

 

• Interesting to note, as the competition for the fifth wide receiver spot is thought to be very wide open at this point. Brad Smith, a versatile offensive weapon and special teams contributor, has to be the favorite.

 

• Alex Henery has done this exactly twice in his three-year NFL career. Long live Carey Spear.

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

TORONTO -- Hyun Soo Kim hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Roberto Osuna, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto 3-2 on Wednesday night to move within one game of the AL wild card-leading Blue Jays.

With Toronto ahead 2-1, Jonathan Schoop singled with one out, pinch-runner Michael Bourn stole second and Kim homered on a 3-2 pitch into the visiting bullpen in right, causing the Orioles relievers to jump in celebration.

Osuna (3-3) has five blown save chances, including two in his last three appearances.

Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 46th home run, a solo drive off Jason Grilli in the eighth.

Brian Duensing (1-0) got one out, and Zach Britton finished for his 47th save in as many tries (see full recap).

Mets win to keep grip on wild-card spot
MIAMI -- The Marlins walked half a block alongside a hearse carrying their ace away from Marlins Park at the start of a funeral motorcade Wednesday, and then peeled away with watery eyes to go back inside and play a game.

Drained by four days of grieving, they didn't have much left for the New York Mets.

Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run, James Loney also homered and the Mets helped their NL wild-card chances by beating Miami 5-2.

New York began the night leading the Giants by half a game and the Cardinals by 1 1/2 games in the race for the two wild-card spots. The Mets conclude the regular season with three games at Philadelphia starting Friday.

The Marlins' loss in their home finale eliminated them from playoff contention. Despite high hopes this year, they still haven't been to the postseason since 2003.

Set Lugo (5-2) went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.

Jose Urena (4-9) allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Cano's HR boosts Mariners' playoff hopes
HOUSTON -- Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 12-4 Wednesday to keep pressure on the other AL wild-card contenders.

Kyle Seager added another three-run drive in the eighth, his 30th home run this season, as Seattle pulled within 1 games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card. Houston dropped three games back as its magic number for elimination was cut to two. The Orioles were at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Cano's career-best 36th home run, a drive off Doug Fister (12-13), landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. Cano has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games against Houston this season (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

ap-phillies-adam-morgan-face.jpg
The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – The Phillies continued to stumble toward the season’s finish line on Wednesday night. They were hammered, 12-2, by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Adam Morgan was bruised for 10 hits and nine runs in five innings.

The Phils have lost five of their last six games. They have given up 63 runs over that span.

The Phils have lost six straight to the Braves and are 16-35 in their last 51 games against the NL East.

With four games to play, the Phils are 70-88.

Starting pitching report
Morgan was hit hard early but had to give the Phils some innings as the bullpen has carried a heavy load lately. He finished the season 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 23 games, 21 of which were starts.

Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz picked up the win. He gave up just one run over five innings.

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have scored 599 runs this season. They are the only team in the majors not to reach 600.

The Braves had 13 hits, including six for extra bases. They were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Matt Kemp doubled and homered for the Braves.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games. He has reached base safely in 46 straight games, tying Washington’s Jayson Werth for most this season.

ICYMI
Like Pete Mackanin, GM Matt Klentak sees a need for offense, but he remains committed to the team’s rebuild (see story).

Health check
Roman Quinn is likely done for the season. Aaron Nola is throwing in Florida (see story).

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday night. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 3.78) will make his final start of the season (and likely his final with the Phillies) against Atlanta right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-0, 4.19).

It will be the Phillies’ final appearance in Turner Field. The Braves move into a new park next season.

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