It was live. Barely.
What head coach Chip Kelly said would be the first Eagles practice of the summer with contact turned out to have very little actual contact.
The Eagles ran two 11-on-11 sessions during the two-hour open practice at Lincoln Financial Field, and although the drills were live up front, there was no tackling. Plays ended with a quick whistle as soon as a defender got a hand on a ball carrier.
A far cry from a typical Andy Reid practice, which included numerous live sessions and often included a generous helping of tackling to the ground.
Kelly was not available for comment Sunday, but earlier this summer he said the Eagles’ four preseason games would comprise most of the full-go sessions the Eagles engaged in during the preseason.
Veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans said he thinks the limited contact version of training camp is better in the long run.
"I've done it this way for a long time,” said veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who spent his first six seasons playing for Texans head coach Gary Kubiak.
“Last year [with Reid] was really my first year in practice tackling guys live to the ground. Never done it before.”
Ryans said he thinks “thud” drills actually do a better job of teaching fundamentals than full-live drills that included tackling to the ground.
“Definitely,” he said. “More fundamental, and it’s tougher. … I think it really helps us as defenders. It works on tackling even better, because you have to put your body in the correct position to be able to tackle."
Who's with the 1's?
Casey Matthews got a handful of reps with the first defense in place of Ryans, and rookie defensive tackle Bennie Logan got reps with the first unit as well.
Kelly plans to mix and match players on various units throughout the preseason, especially on defense. We saw a lot of four down linemen as well during Sunday’s practice, the first ever under Kelly that was open to fans.
Play of the day
Greg Salas made a difficult diving catch of a Matt Barkley pass near the right sideline, with training camp lifer Trevard Lindley in coverage.
Eagles team president Don Smolenski said about 30,000 fans attended practice at the Linc Sunday, the most in franchise history. The Eagles distributed about 65,000 free tickets.
Antonio Dixon left practice Sunday and was on the stationary bike with an unknown injury. Todd Herremans also left early after tweaking his knee, but he said after practice he’s fine.
Arrelious Benn (knee) and Carey Williams (hammy) sat out practice, as did B.J. Cunningham, who had a walking boot on his right foot.
Brian Dawkins, Brian Westbrook, Donovan McNabb and Harold Carmichael got the loudest ovations when a couple dozen alums were introduced before practice.
Bringin' the Heat
Erik Spoelstra, who coached the Miami Heat to the last two NBA titles, was a guest of Coach Kelly Sunday morning at the NovaCare Complex and watched practice from the sideline. Spoelstra is one of only eight coaches in NBA history to win consecutive titles.
Eagles are back at the NovaCare Complex on Monday before a CBA-mandated day off on Tuesday. Remaining practices at the Linc are scheduled for Aug. 5, Aug. 11, Aug. 17 and Aug. 26.