As expected, the morning walk-through itself was like watching paint dry, but it was great to just get out on the field up at Lehigh again and be around football. Thank God for Howard Mudd, who is probably the best interview, player or coach, on the Eagles. Insights galore, awesome guy. A lot more on him and the offensive line a little later today. But first, a few other observations:
– I mentioned this during OTAs, but UDFA Cliff Harris is rail thin. If he has a career ahead of him in the NFL, he may need to hit the weights a bit. There’s a delicate balance there: His strength is his quickness, so you don’t want to get too big and lose a step, but at the same time, you want to be able to survive.
– Fletcher Cox got some reps at DE today. He absolutely dominated a gray trashcan that was trying to block him. In fairness, the trashcan had a great motor, but Cox outweighed it by 275 lbs. and he was at least 3 feet taller.
– The Eagles have brought in Brad Maynard for a workout. Tim McManus with the major scoopage there.
– Keenan Clayton was among the “selected vets” to attend camp with the rookies. Keenan missed all of OTAs and minicamp with a hernia, so he’s getting some extra work before the rest of the vets show up. I had a chance to speak with him after practice. He seems to understand what his role will be with the Eagles this season. Clayton noted that the TE position in the NFL is being more heavily utilized in the passing game: “Tight ends are now looking like over-sized receivers, so you have to have a guy that can run with these tight ends. It’s not more about the over-sized outside linebacker to stuff the run because it’s a pass happy league now, with guys like Gronkowski, Hernandez, (Jimmy Graham), and you need somebody that can really run with those guys.” He added, “I’m always pushing for a bigger role, but as far as my role coming off of last year, I feel like I need to get better in my nickle packages and my dime packages, and most of all special teams.”
In Clayton’s first season he was on the field for 112 snaps. In 2011, he got 156. Back in training camp in his rookie season two years ago, Clayton really stood out to me as a player that was constantly around the football. He also made his share of big plays in that preseason as well. He is an interesting player in that he was both a safety and a linebacker during his college career in Oklahoma, and has excellent athleticism.
His rookie season, the first game he did not appear on the inactive list was against the Colts. On a critical 3rd and 10, Clayton was lined up almost as a slot corner. Pre-snap, Quintin Mikell walked up to the line from his safety spot as if to give the impression he was blitzing, while Clayton dropped back, taking Mikell’s spot, and gave about a 10-yard cushion. Peyton Manning knew full-well that he wanted to test Clayton, who seemingly would be over-matched by wide receiver Austin Collie, who was lined up to Clayton’s side. At the snap, Manning immediately looked off the opposite side of the field to draw the defense that way. Mikell dropped into coverage and took away any underneath route that Collie might run, while Clayton was responsible for over-the-top coverage. Big responsibility there for Clayton. Austin ran a seam route, and Manning fired, but Clayton was there to make the play. Impressive play.
For whatever reason, Clayton has not found himself a steady role in the defense. He’ll need to make the team first, but I really like him in the nickle/dime LB role.
More after the jump…
– The Eagles made some pretty cool aesthetic upgrades on the walk from the parking lot to the fields. One example:
– And thank the good Lord… The Eagles upgraded from the most disgusting port-a-potty on Earth that a few dozen reporters had to share, to real, legitimate bathrooms. And yes, I understand that nobody cares about my comfort level when I need to take a whiz, but this is HUGE.