The Philadelphia Eagles had a club-record 30,000 fans in attendance when they donned pads for the first time in their initial training camp under new head coach Chip Kelly on Sunday, and former Butte High and University of Montana safety Colt Anderson gave the crowd something to remember him by.
Local sportswriter Ed Kracz led off his recap of the practice, available on phillyburbs.com, with an account of Anderson’s big hit — one that broke up an otherwise light-contact workout highlighted by the appearances of notable former Eagles Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins.
“The best whack of the day came courtesy of safety Colt Anderson, who belted tight end Will Shaw after Shaw made a catch and started turning up field,” Kracz wrote. “Shaw was knocked backward and to the ground as the crowd oohed.”
Reports from practices have Anderson, a 2011 Pro Bowl special teams player who started four games a season ago, among a heavy rotation of safeties who are getting work with the first, second and third teams. Also in the mix are veterans Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Kenny Phillips, Kurt Coleman and David Sims.
Jimmy Kempski wrote in an article available on philly.com on Monday that Anderson found himself on the opposite side of that day’s most spectacular play, despite blanketing longtime Eagle receiver Jason Avant in coverage.
“Avant had the play of the day,” Kempski wrote. “He was sandwiched in between Colt Anderson and Patrick Chung on a deep ball down the middle. With the ball in the air, a couple reporters around me said, ‘No way,’ because of how closely Avant was blanketed by the two defenders. Sure enough, Avant went up and made a great catch.”
The Eagles will take Tuesday off, before practicing again at the NovaCareComplex in Philadelphia Wednesday through Friday.
Anderson is one of 15 former Griz and Cats currently fighting for NFL roster spots, with all 32 teams in full swing after the Bills and Colts brought in their veterans on Saturday.
Sixth-year Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter (Helena High, Montana) appears to be maintaining his early advantage over rookie fifth-round pick Caleb Sturgis after the first week of camp.
Sturgis, who enjoyed a record-breaking career at the University of Florida before becoming the first kicker selected in April’s draft, has been sidelined by a groin injury while Carpenter has been especially steady and accurate from deep. Carpenter made all of his attempts on Sunday, hitting from 49, 53 and 54 yards. Carpenter slipped up during Monday’s scrimmage, though, missing two field goal attempts from 49 yards and having an extra-point attempt blocked. He did hit from 50, 44 and 32 yards on the night.
“It is the same situation every training camp. You can ask a quarterback, a kicker, a lineman, a running back, you are going against someone, whether they are out here on the field with you every day or not. You are getting judged on every kick, every snap, every throw, every block,” Carpenter told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Sunday. “The NFL is a business and if you don’t perform you’re not going to hang around very long.”
The Dolphins could save some money this season if Sturgis makes Carpenter expendable, but the incumbent may have found some extra motivation to hang onto his job — his wife, Kaela, is due in just a few weeks with the couple’s first child.
Sixth-year Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann (Hardin High, Montana) — best known nationally for marrying Real Housewives star Kim Zolciak — already held a versatile role in his team’s defense after an unexpected turn as a 6-foot-3, 260-pound safety in certain formations in 2012. Now, it appears, the team might be moving him to linebacker in order to take full advantage of that athleticism.
Pat Yasinskas, of espn.com, wrote in a recent article available on the website:
“The speculation that defensive end Kroy Biermann could be used more as a linebacker is more than speculation. Biermann was spending a lot of time at linebacker in the first two days of camp. He’s athletic enough to play in pass coverage and should be able to generate a pass rush from a linebacker position.”
Tenth-year Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Dwan Edwards (Columbus High, Oregon State) is attempting to hold off first-round pick Star Lotulelei and second-round pick Kawann Short to maintain his starting spot after a breakout 2012 season. According to Lotulelei, the veteran is doing everything he can to prove that six-sack season was no fluke.
“He leads by example. Me and Star talk about it all the time: Dwan Edwards doesn’t do anything wrong,” Short said in an article available on panthers.com. “We’re trying to follow in those footsteps. If we mess up in practice, he gets on us and tells us what we need to do. Listening to guys like him and Charles Johnson, we can learn a lot.”
Fourth-year Tennessee Titans returner/receiver Marc Mariani (Havre High, Montana) sat out practice on Sunday due to lingering issues from the broken leg that placed him on injured reserve for the entire 2012 season.
Mariani, a 2011 Pro Bowl return specialist, is attempting to regain his spot after Denarius Reynaud broke out in the same role a season ago.
“There’s some stuff that isn’t quite there yet, and I just have to keep working on it,” Mariani told the Tennessean on Sunday. “This is something that definitely will never feel exactly the way it used to, but that is not meaning I won’t be as productive or fast, so I am just feeling my way through it.”
Third-year Seattle Seahawks tackle Mike Person (Montana State) has helped his own cause in finding his way off the practice squad by showing up to camp in great shape, according to head coach Pete Carroll.
“Mike Person is really improved, himself,” Carroll told the Seattle Times on Saturday. “He’s stronger and I think he probably gained 15 pounds from a year ago. He looks great. He’s versatile enough to play tackle and he’s playing center some, so that’s a real positive.”
Third-year St. Louis Rams running back Chase Reynolds (Drummond High, Montana) is hoping to find his way onto the active roster after two seasons on the practice squad. He was one of six Rams to return punts during Monday’s special teams-only practice in St. Louis, according to the Associated Press.
Third-year Miami Dolphins defensive back Jimmy Wilson (Montana) is looking to expand on his hybrid nickel cornerback/safety role from a year ago, and may have gotten off to a good start by intercepting starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a recent practice.
Wilson told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that, according to the Dolphins coaches, the defense dropped 17 picks last year.
“We could have been tops in the league,” Wilson said in the article, available on sun-sentinel.com, “Two years ago we weren’t good with communication and got beat with a lot of stop and gos, and a lot of passes over our heads.”
Undrafted rookie Chicago Bears defensive tackle Zach Minter (Montana State) could have a real opportunity to stick on the team’s roster after the unexpected retirement of former No. 8 overall pick Sedrick Ellis on Thursday. Free agent pickup Jamaal Anderson, signed after Ellis’ retirement, joins Nate Collins and Corey Irvin as the team’s only backups at the position with significant experience.
Other Grizzlies in training camps include New York Jets fullback Lex Hilliard (Flathead High), St. Louis Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Caleb McSurdy, Indianapolis Colts receiver Jabin Sambrano and Colts running back Dan Moore.
The other Bobcat in training camp is New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher (Bozeman High).