The Eagles enjoyed some cooler weather Wednesday on the second day of rookie practices. The team followed the same routine under new coach Chip Kelly — meetings, stretching, nutrition and individual drills for about an hour, a period Kelly calls training. Running back Matthew Tucker and punter Brad Wing rode the stationery bike all afternoon after failing Tuesday’s conditioning test, while wide receiver B.J. Cunningham did the same due to a minor ankle injury.
Veterans reported Thursday and the full squad will go Friday. Here’s five random observations from Wednesday’s session:
» Compete and advance. The quarterback battle is officially underway. All five signal-callers — Mike Vick, Nick Foles, Matt Barkley, Dennis Dixon, G.J. Kinne — performed passing drills in the middle of the field. The first drill had them in a shotgun formation working on option packages. Each player was required to accept the hike, pivot on a dime and either hand it off or scramble up the field. Foles, due to his height, looks the part the most, but Vick clearly is the most comfortable back there. Vick snagged an errant hike with ease, then took off like a flash. The quarterbacks also worked on timing routes and slants. Barkley doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he certainly throws the tightest spiral.
» Feet, drive, finish. New offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is the most vocal in drills. He is constantly shouting instructions and getting in players’ faces. He likes using the words: feet, drive, finish. Stoutland is meticulous, too. If a drill is run wrong, he explains why and makes them do it again. The coach used traditional methods, like pounding tackling dummies. He also arranged large trash cans, painted with numbers, that the players had to maneuver around. Metro Philadelphia breaks down the scene, with some player reaction.
» Playing with the yo-yo. The receivers continue to work on innovative drills under coach Bob Bicknell. On Wednesday, they jogged in place, turned then waited for the ball machine to fire at them — the wrinkle was that a teammate came over and poked them in the shoulder with a pad to simulate a defender hitting him. The group ran another drill where a receiver was thrown a football that was attached to a string, like a yo-yo. A coach held onto the other end of the yo-yo and tugged back on it and tried to make the receiver drop the ball. The rallying cry was “strong hands.”
» Star in the making. OK, we are not trying to glean too much into anything at these light practices. That being said, rookie Zach Ertz is one of the most versatile and gifted pass-catching tight ends we’ve seen in Eagles camp in a long time. Ertz runs fluid routes, possesses soft hands and a winning attitude. After dropping an easy ball during one drill, Ertz dropped down and did about 10 push-ups. No, the punishment wasn’t mandated by any coach.
» Turn up. So this might be a personal request from this reporter, but there wasn’t enough hip-hop music being blared from the practice playlist and the music wasn’t as loud as it had been in previous sessions. We were able to make out some One Republic and some Of Monsters and Men, for what that’s worth. Where was the Nicki Minaj that was bumping in the spring? Just saying. Before this camp ends, we will find out if the players have any input on the “energy mix” or if Kelly dicatates everything. In the meantime, twerk it.