Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

The rookies were active early and often in the Eagles' 28-23 win in Carolina on Thursday night (see breakdown).

First-rounder Derek Barnett got on the sack board with a half-sack, WR Mack Hollins came up in the clutch and CB Rasul Douglas had an eventful night.

Here are a few highlights from Thursday's huge win.

1st quarter, 9:07, 1st-and-10 at CAR 49 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
Hollins recorded two receptions late but made a big block early on. The rookie receiver is lined up to the left and tight to the line. LeGarrette Blount is running off tackle to that side. Veteran safety Jairus Byrd reads the play well and creeps up to the line of scrimmage. Hollins comes across Byrd's face and puts him on the ground with a nice block. Hollins' effort springs Blount for a 14-yard run.

1st quarter, 7:02, 4th-and-7 at CAR 32 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
How good has Jake Elliott been? Well, even a poor snap couldn't stop him. Long snapper Rick Lovato snaps the ball off to the right. Punter/holder Donnie Jones does a tremendous job reaching to his right and still putting down a perfect hold. Elliott does an excellent job not losing his focus and nails a 50-yarder to give the Eagles an early lead (see 10 observations).

2nd quarter, 10:34, 1st-and-10 at CAR 16 - Eagles 3, Panthers 3
Welcome to the NFL, Rasul Douglas. The Panthers use a ton of motion, which is effective because of playmakers like rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel and, of course, former league MVP Cam Newton. With both rookies in the backfield, Newton runs a triple option. With Vinny Curry crashing hard on McCaffrey going up the middle, Newton keeps it and gets 10 yards down the field before he even sees a defender. The defender he sees is Douglas, whom Newton fakes out of his cleats for a 16-yard score.

2nd quarter, 6:34, 3rd-and-5 at CAR 14 - Panthers 10, Eagles 3
Payback! In reality, Fletcher Cox makes this play by ferociously collapsing the pocket and forcing Newton to throw it up for grabs (more on Cox here). Douglas still has to be alert enough to know the ball is in the air and has reliable hands to come down with the ball. One of the easiest picks Douglas will ever get, but he still had to pull it in.

3rd quarter, 12:18, 1st-and-goal at PHI 5 - Eagles 18, Panthers 10
One of Carolina's biggest assets is its big receivers. On this play, Newton is looking for former first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin on a fade route. This plays right to Douglas' strength as a tall, long corner. The throw could've been better by Newton, but Douglas is in perfect position and makes a play on the ball. This was a big play. The Panthers would eventually have to settle for a field goal.

3rd quarter, 10:37, 2nd-and-10 at PHI 43 - Eagles 18, Panthers 13
Hollins makes his first of two big catches. On this play, the Eagles are lined up with trips to the right with Hollins being the receiver on the line. Nothing fancy here. Hollins runs an in and pulls in a huge 18-yard reception on third down. This play eventually led to a field goal.

3rd quarter, 1:21, 3rd-and-16 at PHI 18 - Eagles 21, Panthers 13
If the play on the field goal drive was big, this play was critical. On 3rd-and-forever, Carson Wentz does what he's done all season: stand up in the face of pressure and delivers an on-target throw to convert. Again, nothing fancy here by Hollins. Just a solidly run 20-yard in route. The rookie hauls it in for a big first down. This play led to the deciding touchdown (see report card).

4th quarter, 4:23, 2nd-and-10 at CAR 47 - Eagles 28, Panthers 23
This had to feel great for Barnett. Funny enough, after winning so many battles and coming up empty, Barnett loses early on this down. But as he's done all season, he doesn't give up on the play. The coverage is solid and Barnett is able to grab Newton's leg from behind. The rookie holds on for dear life and brings down one of the toughest QBs in the league to corral. 

Analysis
Six games in and the monkey is off Barnett's back. Really, it was only a matter of time. Two plays later, Barnett pressured Newton into a bad throw that was almost picked off by Douglas. Hopefully the sack (technically a half-sack) was the first of many for the 21-year-old.

Hollins looks like he's going to be a solid pro. As mentioned, he didn't do anything earth-shattering on either catch, but he ran the right route and secured the catch. That's more than can be said for some of the receivers that have come through here recently. 

Of course Newton made Douglas look silly on that TD, but Newton has done that to many DBs. It was another solid performance from the rookie overall. He nearly had a second pick later in the game. He led the nation in interceptions last season, so it's not a coincidence that this kid is always around the ball.

And ho-hum, Elliott nailed two more field goals (50, 48). Bye, Caleb Sturgis.

Eagles rookie report: Clement helps seal win; Elliott oozing confidence

Eagles rookie report: Clement helps seal win; Elliott oozing confidence

This week's Eagles rookie report is a bit of a mixed bag.

Cornerback Rasul Douglas took a couple lumps, but kicker Jake Elliott and running back Corey Clement shined in the Eagles' 26-24 win over the Chargers Sunday (see breakdown).

Let's take a look at a few of the key plays involving the rookies.

1st quarter, 12:54, 2-and-10 at PHI 38 - Eagles 0, Chargers 0
L.A. was moving the ball pretty well on its first drive and got into Eagles' territory. First-round pick Derek Barnett is lined up on the right against Chargers veteran left tackle Russell Okung. Instead of the outside speed rush that Barnett favored in college and has used almost exclusively as a pro, Barnett bull rushes Okung. He drives the massive tackle into the backfield and collapses the pocket on Philip Rivers, forcing the Chargers' quarterback to roll left. Chris Long pursues Rivers from the other side of the field and hits him for a strip sack. Barnett then hustles downfield and is able to corral the loose ball. 

1st quarter, 4:26, 3rd-and-3 at PHI 23 - Eagles 7, Chargers 0
With the Eagles lined up in a three-wide set and lined up in shotgun, this play looks like a pass. Instead, Wentz hands the ball off to Clement, and the rookie running back takes it up the gut for 10 yards. With the Chargers expecting pass, the Eagles' offensive line gets a great push, including a great block by Jason Kelce at the second level. Clement hits the hole with excellent burst, probably the most he's shown in his young NFL career.

2nd quarter, 6:32, 1st-and-10 at LAC 25 - Eagles 13, Chargers 0
This is the first play that Douglas is beat on. Lined up against the speedy Tyrell Williams, Douglas bites on an outside move from Williams, and the wideout burns him for a 75-yard touchdown on a deep post. In Douglas' defense, the way he plays this suggests that maybe he thought he had help over the top. That's something we won't know until we get a look at the coach's film. 

2nd quarter, 0:36, 3rd-and-4 at LAC 19 - Eagles 16, Chargers 7
This play falls squarely on Douglas. Jim Schwartz has protected his corners a lot this season by utilizing off coverage. On this play, Douglas is up on the line to get a jam against receiver Keenan Allen. Allen is the only receiver lined up to the left. Allen does an outstanding job faking the slant and busting it outside. Douglas looks like a rookie on this play, taking the cheese on the fake and allowing Allen to make a 49-yard grab, setting up an L.A. field goal to end the first half.

3rd quarter, 0:07, 2nd-and-3 at LAC 37 - Eagles 19, Chargers 10
This play I really can't fault Douglas for. This time Allen actually runs the slant. Douglas is right on his hip and knocks the ball away, but Douglas draws the flag for pass interference. Douglas does have his hand on Allen's left hip, but he doesn't appear to turn the receiver. Considering how much contact the refs were letting defensive backs on both sides get away with all day, this seemed like a ticky-tack call. But it's the type of call players like Rivers and Allen get and rookies like Douglas don't.

4th quarter, 2:22, 3rd-and-1 at LAC 42 - Eagles 26, Chargers 24
This run sort of represents what Clement is all about. After picking up a 3rd-and-2 a couple plays earlier, Doug Pederson goes back to Clement. The Eagles overloaded the left side with Halapoulivaati Vaitai in as an extra tackle, and Brent Celek and Zach Ertz lined up to the left of him. It's no secret what the Eagles are doing here. The entire line slides right and it's set up for Clement to cut the run back to the left. This shows off Clement's patience and vision as he waits for his blockers to open up the hole. It's a simple four-yard gain but a crucial one for Clement and the Eagles. 

Analysis
Douglas was bound to have a game like this. And the reality is it may not be as bad as it appeared in live action. As mentioned, on the Williams TD it looked like Douglas was expecting help. The 49-yarder to Allen was the only play that you could blame on Douglas, but one of Allen's biggest strengths is his ability to get a release off press coverage. Perhaps that wasn't a great spot for Schwartz to put Douglas in. Either way, it's a good learning experience for the young corner.

I'd be remiss if I didn't reference Elliott. How spectacular was the rookie kicker again today? He was 4 of 4, nailing kicks from 45, 40, 53 and 47 (see Roob's observations). It's all about confidence for athletes. Especially kickers. Elliott was a great kicker at Memphis and a fifth-round pick. It appears that 61-yard GW last week has his confidence sky high and kicking like he did in college.

Clement finished with 30 yards on 10 carries, the highlights being the 10-yarder in the first quarter and the late short-yardage runs in crunch time. LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood are the more dynamic runners, but Doug Pederson appears determined to get Clement touches. The knock on Clement out of college is that he only picks up the yards that are blocked for him. With the way the Eagles' offensive line has been getting push, that works perfectly for Clement.

Eagles rookie report: Jake Elliott's heroics; Rasul Douglas' 1st INT; Corey Clement's 1st TD

Eagles rookie report: Jake Elliott's heroics; Rasul Douglas' 1st INT; Corey Clement's 1st TD

Well, it's not very often that we'll lead our rookie report with a kicker.

But ... wow.

Rookie kicker Jake Elliott buried a 61-yard field goal as time expired to give the Eagles a 27-24 win over the Giants in the home opener at the Linc (see breakdown).

Elliott hit a pair of clutch kicks and overshadowed corner Rasul Douglas snagging his first interception and running back Corey Clement getting his first score (see observations).

Let's take a look at a few of the highlights in our Week 3 rookie report.

1st quarter, 15:00 - Eagles 0, Giants 0
For the second time in three weeks, Clement made an impact on the opening kickoff. In Week 1, he made a nice special-teams tackle to pin the Redskins inside their own 20. Against the Giants, he took the opening kickoff from the goal line and took it 35 yards to set the Eagles up with nice field position.

2nd quarter, 7:59, 1st-and-10 at PHI 42 - Eagles 7, Giants 0
On this play, Eli Manning tried to go tempo, something he did often to attempt to mitigate the Eagles' pass rush. The defense does look a little out of sorts with Malcolm Jenkins scrambling to get into position. Douglas has 1-on-1 coverage on veteran Brandon Marshall. The rookie corner plays it perfectly. He runs stride for stride with Marshall and Manning throws it up for grabs. Douglas times it perfectly and snags it for his first NFL interception. 

Admittedly, this was a god-awful decision by Manning, but still good on the rookie to not get flustered, know his assignment and make a play. On the replay, you can see Douglas doesn't even get his mouthpiece in. Again, great poise for a guy in his second NFL game.

2nd quarter, 1:37, 1st-and-10 at PHI 37 - Eagles 7, Giants 0
A very similar situation arises on the next series. The Giants are in the two-minute drill around the same part of the field and Douglas is once again matched up 1-on-1 against Marshall. This time, Marshall runs a five-yard hitch. Douglas reads it perfectly and is ready to make a play on the football. Unfortunately, Patrick Robinson tips the ball in the slot and it falls incomplete. You can see Douglas telling Robinson after the play that he had a pick six lined up. The rookie's swagger is starting to show.

2nd quarter:29, 3rd-and-goal at PHI 1 - Eagles 7, Giants 0
Better to be lucky than good? Douglas is lined up over the much quicker Sterling Shepard. Shepard beats Douglas off the line and Manning makes a perfect throw. Shepard catches it but then he doesn't. As he falls to the ground, he doesn't complete the process of the catch. Sure looked like a TD to me, but that's the rule. Whatever, fourth down. This is a tough matchup for Douglas against a shifty player like Shepard. 

4th quarter, 14:15, 1st-and-10 at PHI 44 - Eagles 14, Giants 0
Manning throws the ball immediately to Marshall with Douglas playing soft coverage. Douglas again makes an aggressive play and drives on the football, getting Marshall down for a two-yard gain. On the next play, the Giants took advantage of the soft coverage and Manning hits Marshall on a 14-yard hitch for a first down.

4th quarter, 13:07, 1st-and-10 at PHI 28 - Eagles 14, Giants 0
Same as the previous first down play with an immediate throw to Marshall. Douglas reads it again and almost blows the play up. Instead, Douglas whiffs on the tackle and Marshall takes it for 18 yards. But this isn't a bad play by Douglas at all. Sure, he needs to make the tackle, but again, this type of aggressive play is what the Eagles saw at West Virginia and why they picked him in the third round. By this time next year, as Douglas gets more comfortable, that play might turn into a pick.

4th quarter, 10:47, 1st-and-10 at PHI 17 - Eagles 14, Giants 14
Up to this point, Clement had just three carries for three yards. But on this carry, you see what the Eagles like about him. It's a three-wide set with Zach Ertz lined up in a wing position to the left. Ertz and left guard (on this possession) Stefen Wisniewski pull to the right. Clement waits for both blockers to clear and then hits the hole with a decent burst for a seven-yard gain, his longest rush of the game, until ...

4th quarter, 5:40, 1st-and-10 at NYG 15 - Giants 21, Eagles 14
Again, another example of Clement's patience and vision. Both Wisniewski and center Jason Kelce pull to the left. Clement takes the carry off tackle to the left. Just like the previous play, he waits for his blockers and takes the ball to the edge. Once he gets to the second level, he runs through the arm tackle of safety Darian Thompson and plunges into the end zone. I was slightly surprised to see Clement get so many opportunities in the fourth quarter, but he took advantage of them. 

(There was a sloppy exchange between Clement and quarterback Carson Wentz on a second-down run but the ball was held on to.)

4th quarter:56, 4th-and-7 at NYG 28 - Giants 24, Eagles 21
I won't pretend to be an expert on the kicking game, but I know Elliot making a 46-yarder to tie the game with under a minute left in the fourth quarter of his team's home opener is clutch. And for a rookie to knock this kick through? Wow. 

4th quarter:01, 1st-and-10 at NYG 43 - Eagles 24, Giants 24
And you thought the last kick was clutch. You can't even quantify how special of a kick this was. Elliott's career-long at Memphis was 56 yards. He nails a 61-yarder just inside the right goal post, the longest in Eagles' history, with no time left to win it. Onions!

Analysis
Elliott may have just Wally Pipp'd Caleb Sturgis. Elliott missed a 52-yarder wide left in the third quarter, but boy, did he make up for it. Elliott was an excellent — and clutch — kicker at Memphis. Good enough to warrant a fifth-round pick. The Eagles might have accidentally found a very good, young kicker (see report card)

It appeared for most of the game that Douglas shadowed Marshall, which makes sense. Douglas' length, physicality and aggressiveness are the perfect mix to slow down a player like Marshall. Douglas has shown glimpses of being a starting-caliber corner, but he'll be tested plenty as the season goes on.

Clement finished the day with six carries for 22 yards, but the Glassboro, New Jersey, native was able to record his first NFL touchdown roughly a half hour away from where he grew up. What a special moment.

First-round pick Derek Barnett didn't have much of an impact because of the Giants' game plan to get the ball out of Manning's hands as fast as possible.