Eagles

A look into the Eagles' first practice at Angel Stadium in Anaheim

A look into the Eagles' first practice at Angel Stadium in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Eagles kicker Jake Elliott missed the first field goal he attempted at Angel Stadium on Wednesday afternoon in Southern California. 

Foul ball. 

It was a pretty unusual scene on Wednesday afternoon, when the Eagles took to the makeshift practice field in the middle of the Angels' stadium. The Eagles' offense was at the field for its walkthrough on Tuesday, but Jim Schwartz's unit got its first look at it on Wednesday, when the whole team practiced there beginning at 2:40 p.m. local time. 

The sod field in the middle of the empty stadium actually looked pretty good. It actually looks better than the fields at the NovaCare Complex, although the dead-looking grass in Philly is apparently just the type of grass. There was noticably the absence of video boards at the stadium; they're being worked on. By the time the afternoon practice rolled around, much of the field was already engulfed by shadows. 

"Gracious for the Angels for allowing us to practice there, and our grounds crew has done an amazing job over there when you see it today, with putting some sod down in the infield and just a great job," Pederson said this morning of their home for the week. "The field's awesome, yeah. Field's great. Great shape."

The Eagles have been planning this trip for a long time and even asked the league to schedule two of their three West Coast trips back to back so they could stay out here. 

The plan is to keep everything as normal as possible (see story). So as practice kicked off on Wednesday, the Eagles stretched, did special teams and went into individual drills, followed by team drills. That's their normal schedule. 

The quarterbacks worked out in the outfield. The running backs were in left field down the third-base line. The defensive backs were on the third-base line in the infield. Linebackers were just around where first base normally resides. Home plate was covered by a white circular tarp. 


At one point, as the defensive backs were working on a drill that had them backpedal before driving forward, safety Corey Graham ran past the edge of the green sod and onto the rock-hard dirt beyond the infield. He slipped but was able to keep his balance, avoiding disaster. 

"Don't run on that!" he yelled. 

Where the running backs were going through drills down the third-base line, they were joined by running back Darren Sproles, who has been on the IR since getting hurt in Week 3. Sproles, who lives in San Diego, spent the first portion of practice chatting with his position coach Duce Staley and teammates. 

He then held the giant orange dummy for drills, as his teammates went through them. 

The Eagles will practice at Angel Stadium again on Thursday and Friday, and will have their walkthrough there on Saturday as well. During the week, the team is staying at a hotel in Costa Mesa, about a 15-minute drive from the stadium.

They will play the Rams at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sunday afternoon. 

Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

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USA Today Images

Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Barrett Brooks react to the addition of Vinny Curry and what it means for the entire defensive end position. 

What about guys like Shareef Miller, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman? 

Jatavis Brown abruptly retired this weekend, which leaves the Eagles really light at the linebacker positions. The guys take a closer look. Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are forming a really interesting duo on the Eagles’ line. 

And Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson are off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

  • (2:06) — What the return of Vinny Curry means for Shareef Miller.
  • (16:01) — Jatavis Brown abruptly retires.
  • (25:53) — Eagles lack talented players under 25-years-old.
  • (33:16) — Jason Kelce is learning from Jason Peters.

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More on the Eagles

Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

They have a new safety, two new starting cornerbacks, a new slot corner and a rookie safety. And a new coach.

They all just met. Opening day is 33 days away.

Let’s go play football!

This truncated offseason isn’t ideal for anybody, but for the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary the absence of spring practices and preseason games combined with a curtailed training camp is a particularly daunting challenge just because this unit has undergone such a transformation.

Malcolm Jenkins is gone. Jalen Mills has moved from corner to safety. Avonte Maddox moves outside to CB2. Newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman seems to be the front-runner for the slot. And Marquand Manuel has replaced Cory Undlin as secondary coach.

It’s an incredible amount of change in a position group where chemistry and cohesion are so important.

It’s a challenge, but it’s a process that’s got to be expedited,” Robey-Coleman said Monday. “But that’s why you have seasoned veterans who can come in and adjust to the climate of an organization or a situation that’s going on outside of football, just speaking on this pandemic. Me, Slay, Rod, Mills, guys like that that have been to the playoffs, that have been deep in the playoffs, that have won Super Bowls. We know how to adjust to things like this. We’re not lost in the sauce, like we forgot how to play football.

Can a secondary come together on Zoom calls?

Can a secondary develop chemistry when the players are social distancing in the locker room?

Can a secondary learn to play together without spring workouts?

Can a secondary learn what its new coach is looking for when they just met him a few weeks before opening day?

This is what this group is trying to accomplish.

“Just knowing that, ‘Hey, man we’re all in this thing together, we all gotta do this thing together,’” Robey-Coleman said. “We are stronger together, that’s been our motto the whole offseason, and coach (Doug) Pederson has been harping on that with us. So we just always have the mindset of doing everything together. No man is left behind. Iron sharpens iron. We’re all out here trying to get each other better. We’re all out here just trying to get a full understanding of each other, knowing that there’s new guys, new additions on the team and on the defense. So just being on the same page, talking to each other, communicating. ‘Hey, do you like to press? What do you like to do?’ Just knowing each others’ personalities and knowing how we could formulate the defense and make it easier for everyone to work better and work smarter.”

Robey-Coleman, who signed with the Eagles after four years with the Bills and three with the Rams, said finding ways to accelerate that growth process has been a constant point of emphasis since this shortened training camp began.

“Some guys might have done it like this in the past, but now we do it like this,” NRC said. “So it’s just little small nuances of the defenses that we just have to have down pat in order to be understood all the way across the board from every level of the defense, from the secondary to the linebackers to the d-line. So if we can get all of that to come together in a cool amount of time I feel like we’ll be OK for week one, and from there we’ll just make small adjustments from there going on throughout the season.”

This secondary has a lot of questions to answer and not a lot of time to answer them. 

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles