Hey, didn’t someone suggest that Sunday’s scuffle between Trent Cole and LeSean McCoy at the NovaCare Complex could portend Monday's contact practice at the Linc?
Oh, yeah. We did. Right here.
Day 3 of Eagles camp — the first open practice at the Linc, first with players wearing pads — featured a second brawl in as many days. Near the end of practice, some feisty bumping between Jeremy Maclin and Bradley Fletcher led to a lockup that ended with Fletcher's landing a few haymakers to the receiver’s head and chest areas.
After practice, Maclin strolled past reporters without commenting. Fletcher, meanwhile, couldn’t escape the herd of media that encircled him.
“One thing led to another,” Fletcher said. “It’s football. Emotions get going and things happen, but we’re all just working to get better.”
Cary Williams, a known practice gladiator, applauded the two-day streak of entanglements.
“I’m glad, to be honest with you,” Williams said. “We’re not supposed to be friendly when you come out here to camp. There’s no friends, though you’re trying to look out for your brother. When those situations arise, especially us defenders, we want to let them know we ain’t having that.”
An unsurprising perspective from someone who last year was booted from a joint practice for sparring with a Patriots receiver and later fought teammate Riley Cooper.
“I think it’s normal,” Williams said. “I don’t think you’re supposed to go through camp with no fights, in my opinion. Those are supposed to happen. You’re out here long hours, you’re fighting each other, fighting to survive another down. That’s a part of camp.”
The debut of pads, along with a Linc crowd of just under 15,000, raised the intensity level and helped the defensive backs get even after the offense dominated the first two days of camp at NovaCare.
Although the defense failed to produce an interception for the third straight day, several defensive backs got their hands on balls and disrupted passes from their intended targets.
Fletcher, Brandon Boykin, Earl Wolff and Malcolm Jenkins each had impressive breakups. Wolff went airborne to bat down Mark Sanchez’s pass to Arrelious Benn about 40 yards downfield.
“We’re getting close,” Jenkins said. “But we do need a sack clock. My grandma could complete balls when they hold it for 10 seconds.
“Bill (Davis) has changed up the defense a little bit to take some of the air out of the coverage. We’re a lot tighter in our coverage, puts us closer to the ball, puts us closer to making plays. We’re almost there.”
Towering wideout Ifeanyi Momah, a 6-foot-7 prospect who didn’t make the team last year and didn’t sign with anyone, made two sterling catches — a fingertip grab across the middle and another against tight coverage on the left sideline. Should be a boost for Momah’s confidence.
For the second time in three practices, Damaris Johnson botched a kickoff return, putting the ball on the ground despite the no-tackle rule that significantly limits contact.
Maybe Chip Kelly really is the genius he’s often portrayed to be. After two days of having some of Matt Barkley’s reps handed to fourth-string quarterback G.J. Kinne, Barkley responded by having perhaps his best practice of the season. Barkley made some tremendous decisions in the scrimmages and showed some extra life with his passes.
Catch of the Day
B.J. Cunningham doesn’t get much press, but the second-year wideout turned in the day’s smoothest catch, leaping near the left sideline to reel in a fastball from Barkley despite being smothered by cornerback Davon Morgan.
Replay of the Day
Running backs catching passes out of the backfield. Over and over and over again. On wheel routes, in the flat, across the middle. Everywhere. Shady McCoy may have caught 30 passes in one practice.
Quote of the Day
“You gotta understand, you’re not swinging to hurt the guy. They got on a helmet. You’ve got to protect him, you’ve gotta protect yourself. It’s common sense. It’s almost like a faking situation. You’re kinda putting some pressure on at the last minute. You’re not trying to kill your hand. If you break your hand in a fight you’ve gotta be a complete idiot.”
Henery v. Spear
Veteran kicker Alex Henery went 5 for 5 on attempts of 33, 42, 48, 45 and 50 yards. Rookie Cary Spear hit on 4 of 5, missing his 48-yarder wide right.
Cooper wore a helmet all day but wasn’t in pads and didn’t participate in any major scrimmages or drills.
Defensive tackle Bennie Logan rode the exercise bike for most of the afternoon as he nurses a sore hamstring. Running back Chris Polk and backup center Julian Vandervelde missed all of practice. The Eagles don’t disclose injuries in camp.
The Eagles are off Tuesday before reconvening Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex for an 11:45 a.m. practice.