PHILADELPHIA – Practice was about an hour old when Nick Sirianni blew his whistle and had his team gather around him.
Was practice over already?
Sirianni, after all, had a 75-minute practice on his first day of training camp as a rookie head coach and Friday was a veterans’ day off, so the team was short-handed a bit with eight vets sitting this one out, including Fletcher Cox, Zach Ertz, Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Ryan Kerrigan, Rodney McCloud, and Darius Slay.
With the offense on one side of him and the defense on the other, Sirianni only had a message to deliver.
A few minutes later, the players dispersed, and practice resumed.
“I think we had gotten off to a slower start than we had the previous couple days so he wanted to bring attention to that and say hey, this can be a microcosm of the season at times of an NFL season at times where you have your ups, you have your downs, what are you going to do when you get off to a slow start, you have to pick yourself up, and I think that was his message, and I think we finished the practice stronger than we started,” said Kerrigan.
Stopping practice isn’t new for coaches. Darius Slay has been in the league since 2013, with the first seven of those seasons spent in Detroit.
“All the coaches I’ve been around kind of stopped practice before,” he said. “If we’re having a sloppy practice or a good practice, it doesn’t matter. If they feel like stopping practice, they can stop it. I’ve been around coaches that can do it a lot.
“One thing we know about this team and this locker room, and the coaching staff, they already harped on us, ‘don’t take nothing the hard way’ because they doing it out of love, doing it out of respect. So, when coach pulls us up like that, we do nothing but respect them and try to go to work as hard as we can for them.”
Running back Boston Scott gave credit to Sirianni for recognizing that the team needed to hear his message.
“He was like this adversity, this is the game of football, there’s going to be some days where you feel like everything is going right, there’s going to be some days where you feel like nothing’s going right, but it’s how you respond to that, not letting it drive you to not harping on your mistakes, but being the present, being in the now.
“It’s not about how you start, it’s great to start fast, but it’s even more important to finish strong. That’s what that was right three. Major respect for him being able to gauge the day and the team and demeanor of guys, the body language and bring us all together like that.”
SWEATY AND DB
Kerrigan played with some pretty good defensive ends during his time in Washington, so he was asked to compare players such as Chase Young and Montez Sweat to the Eagles duo of Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat.
“The sky’s the limit for those couple of guys,” he said. “I’ve been watching them for the past couple of yeast ever since they’ve been in the league and they’ve been some of my favorite guys to watch on tape.”
Sweat’s size, 6-5, 250, took the veteran DE by surprise.
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“I had no idea Sweat was as big as he was until I got here and I saw him up close and was like wow, that guy moves like that on film and is that big?” said Kerrigan. “He’s going to be a problem for a few years to come.”
As for Barnett, Kerrigan said, “You see Derek and the way he can bend and as physical as he is for a guy who can bend like he can.”
Sweat is having a dominating camp so far, and Barnett has had some good reps as well. They continue to rotate with the first team, though defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said it doesn’t matter who starts.
“I view both of those guys as starters,” said Gannon. “I think you guys should see the switching of groups, like I said, period by period, day by day, week by week.
“I don't really look at that as a competition. We're just out here trying to get better, like everybody. We feel really good about that entire group and those two guys.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If (Matt) Patricia was there, I’d be very excited (laughter).”
– Darius Slay when asked if he had the Detroit game circled on his schedule calendar on his former head coach who has since been fired.
The Eagles won’t practice until 5:30 on Saturday evening then take Sunday off. It is expected that pads will be worn for the first time in training camp on Monday.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.