Paul Hudrick

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.

Give and Go: Which Sixer has been most disappointing through camp, preseason?

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Give and Go: Which Sixer has been most disappointing through camp, preseason?

Each week, our resident basketball analysts will discuss some of the hottest topics involving the Sixers.

Running the Give and Go are NBC Sports Philadelphia anchor/reporter Marshall Harris and producer/reporters Matt Haughton Paul Hudrick.

This week, we'll break down which Sixer has been the most impressive during training camp and preseason so far.

Harris
For me, it's Nik Stauskas. And there were others who were close (Kris Humphries comes to mind and it's completely unrelated to the boos). After two seasons with the Sixers, we know what Stauskas is. While his three-point percentage was up from 32.6 to 36.8 last season, his field-goal percentage still has never hit 40 percent in three seasons.

The Sixers signed JJ Redick, drafted Markelle Fultz, and welcomed a healthy Jerryd Bayless back into the fold. Compare Stauskas to those players (understanding that the Sixers traded up to acquire Fultz with the No. 1 pick) and the glaring weaknesses of Stauskas at shooting guard become even more evident.

A roster crunch is coming. Watching Stauskas go 2 for 11 from the field in two preseason games hasn't done anything to lead me to believe he's the answer to rounding out even the bottom of the roster.

Haughton
This is a joke, right? Seriously, this can’t be the real Kris Humphries.

The veteran big man has always been at least a serviceable body off the bench in the NBA, but those days may be over based on his play so far with the Sixers. 

In two preseason games with the team, Humphries has played 15 total minutes. He has managed to grab five rebounds in that time, which would be a solid amount if not for the numerous other boards grabbed as he was pushed aside by opponents. Then there is the offensive end where Humphries is 0 for 4 from the field (0 for 2 from three), has two turnovers and just generally looks lost.

It’s hard to explain when you think back that Humphries was just a contributor for a playoff team in the Atlanta Hawks, a squad that runs the same system as Brett Brown with fellow former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer as head coach.

Perhaps at 32 years old and 13 years into his NBA career, time has simply caught up with Humphries. If that’s the case, he will continue to hear boo birds from fans until he receives his pink slip.

Hudrick
Marshall and Matt sort of nailed it, so my pick is Fultz. I know, I know. It's really not fair after one preseason game, but that one game was a microcosm of Fultz's issues.

Fultz has always played the point and is used to having the ball in his hands. He has a long ways to go to learn the nuances of playing off the ball with Ben Simmons running the show. 

Defense. It was a concern at Washington. It's a concern after the first preseason game. 

The shot will come, but he's obviously reworking it. I trust Brown, who's helped several players improve their jumper, but it will certainly be a work in progress.

With all that said, he was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. He's 19 years old. He showed flashes during the summer league and even against Memphis last week. I still believe Fultz becomes an elite offensive player in the NBA.

So don't panic, Sixers fans. All of this is to be expected for Fultz. It's a process.

You just have to trust it.

Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett just misses 1st NFL sack

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USA Today Images

Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett just misses 1st NFL sack

First-round pick Derek Barnett just missed out on his first NFL sack in the Eagles' dominant 34-7 win Sunday over the Cardinals (see breakdown).

Cornerback Rasul Douglas and running back Corey Clement also had a hand in the win, and defensive tackle Elijah Qualls makes his first appearance on the rookie report.

Here are a few highlights.

1st quarter, 0:16, 2nd-and-10 at ARZ 42 - Eagles 21, Cardinals 0
On this play, Douglas is lined up against the speedy John Brown. Brown is clearly not the target on this route and runs a lazy slant. Douglas recognizes this and sees quarterback Carson Palmer dump a short out to tight end Jermaine Gresham. The play is designed to pull the corner away from that side of the field and allow Gresham to gain some yards up the sideline. Instead, Douglas makes an aggressive play on the ball and tackles Gresham for a minimal gain.

2nd quarter, 9:05, 1st-and-10 at ARZ 10 - Eagles 21, Cardinals 7
Barnett shows off what made him a first-round pick. He uses an outside rush and beats John Wetzel badly and tosses him aside. Palmer steps up in the pocket just enough to avoid the sack and get a short pass off to Andre Ellington. Barnett was flagged for roughing the passer, but it was pretty soft. It sort of looked like Barnett was falling to the ground and just held onto Palmer as he did. The coaching staff probably won't get on the rookie too much for that one.

2nd quarter, 2:00, 1st-and-10 at PHI 38 - Eagles 21, Cardinals 7
Nelson Agholor is lined out wide to the left. He motions at full speed like he might get the ball on a jet sweep. Carson Wentz takes the snap from under center, gives a hand fake to Agholor and then a ball fake to Clement. Clement then goes left for a screen. The rookie back then takes the ball into Cardinals' territory for a 22-yard gain. Clement does an excellent job selling the run and shows his patience and vision in setting up his blocks (see Roob's 10 observations). Excellent call by Doug Pederson. Clement isn't typically on the field for plays like this and it appeared to catch Arizona off guard.

2nd quarter, 0:32, 1st-and-10 at ARI 33 - Eagles 21, Cardinals 7
This time lined up against Jaron Brown, Douglas has sort of a weird play. He runs with Brown down the left sideline but just sort of stops after about 15 yards. Was it a zone look? Did he know he had help over the top from Malcolm Jenkins and saw where Palmer was going with the football? If we give Douglas the benefit of the doubt and say the latter, then it's a mighty impressive play. He does appear to take a peek into the backfield and then times the throw well and gets a hand on it. 

3rd quarter, 0:27, 1st-and-14 at ARZ 21 - Eagles 31, Cardinals 7
Welcome to the NFL, Qualls. Qualls has seen action but had yet to have an impactful snap. Palmer tries to carry out a play-action fake to the right and then come back for a receiver screen on the right. Qualls is unblocked. Perhaps Arizona was hoping Qualls would buy the fake. More likely, the Cardinals' offensive line is just playing really bad football. Qualls shows his burst off the line and plants Palmer into the ground, causing an incompletion.

Analysis
Douglas and Barnett weren't much of a factor, but only because it was such a dominant effort by the defense overall (see report card). Palmer seemed to keep picking on Patrick Robinson instead of Douglas, but the veteran corner was excellent. Barnett narrowly missed his first sack. It'll come.

Clement finished with 17 yards on seven carries and the one catch for 22 yards. Overall, it was a solid performance by the rookie back. I liked the idea of getting him involved on a screen. Clement possesses excellent patience and vision, crucial elements to run a successful screen play.

Worth mentioning, Jake Elliott was 2 for 2. He may never miss a kick again.