Day 2 of the Eagles’ mandatory three-day minicamp kicked off Wednesday morning again under sweltering heat at the NovaCare Complex. The camp ends Thursday and the team won’t reconvene again until training camp starts late next month.
Here are 10 observations from Wednesday's practice:
1. It was hot -- the temperature in South Philadelphia reached 97 degrees -- and Chip Kelly was asked if every precaution went into his planning given the unseasonably warm weather.
“I mean, we monitor every single guy on our team,” he said. “We monitor every player in terms of where they are so we know where those guys are. But those guys have done a great job from a recovery standpoint so they are ready to go [Wednesday].”
2. Nick Foles had some zip on his fastball. He made a few throws that spiraled tighter than I’m accustomed to seeing from him. On one deep pass in team drills, he fired a laser to Maclin down the right side despite tight coverage from Bradley Fletcher. Maclin almost came up with the catch, but the ball bounced off his fingertips as he nearly sprawled. Earlier, Foles found Maclin down the left seam in a zone between Connor Barwin and Nate Allen. Just real good placement. Foles, however, did have one his throws deflect off a human flyswatter, which is believed to be the first pass from any QB to get caught by the flyswatter. Mike Vick used to make it a daily achievement.
3. Matt Barkley took some second-team reps. I thought it was the first time, but other writers told me he ran with the second string a few times Tuesday. He did more with the second team Wednesday, although none of his passes really stood out.
4. The defense seemed to have the edge in drills, impressive given the heat and fast tempo. The defensive backs were quick to the ball. Brandon Boykin had several pass breakups, including two in a five-play span during a red-zone drill to stop potential touchdowns. G.J. Kinne took “whistle sacks” on consecutive reps against the first defense when he just couldn’t find an open wideout.
5. Running back Chris Polk likes to talk about his reliable hands and pedigree as a high school receiver. He showed those skills, going down the left sideline to make a nice deep grab on a Mark Sanchez pass with Roc Carmichael in coverage.
6. One of Kelly’s more amusing accolades went to second-year wideout Will Murphy, who has apparently improved since last year. “I think Will Murphy and Ifeanyi Momah are two guys that have really improved from a year ago …” Murphy (can you name what university he attended?) got in some second-team reps. He spent last year on the practice squad. The cynic might suggest that Murphy should be one of the most improved receivers by default, since he wasn’t very good in comparison to what the Eagles had last year.
7. There are six tight ends on the roster, but only three are getting a steady diet of reps. Brent Celek, Zach Ertz and James Casey get plenty of time in the 7-on-7s and 11-on-11 drills, but Emil Igwenagu and rookie free agents Trey Burton and Blake Annen barely sniffed the field. Igwenagu a very good blocker who spent most of last year on the practice squad, seems to get the most of the last three, but it’s not many.
8. Jordan Matthews gets plenty of work in the slot, as Kelly said would happen, but Maclin also logs his fair share of reps inside. It still wouldn’t surprise me if Maclin saw more playing time inside than Matthews, especially at the start of the season. In college, Maclin played a ton of slot wideout in Missouri’s spread offense.
9. Just in case you forgot he was still on the roster, Curtis Marsh reminded folks that he’s still around by picking off Barkley on a quick out along the right sideline. Marsh, a 2011 third-round pick entering his third season, is the highest-remaining pick from his class still left on the roster.
10. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl, who missed a bunch of OTAs with an undisclosed injury, missed another practice. Again, no word from the team on why Maehl was sidelined. Maehl, another Oregon product, made the roster last year, but with several additions at receiver his roster spot in 2014 is hardly locked up.