Sports

Eagles leave hitting for games

Kelly
Kelly

DeSean Jackson caught Michael Vick’s pass over the middle, took a couple steps and braced himself for a hit that Kurt Coleman never delivered.

Hard to break the habit.

Jackson and the rest of the Philadelphia Eagles have nothing to worry about this training camp. Tackling is a no-no for coach Chip Kelly.

“We have four preseason games for that,” Kelly said.

When 30,000 fans came to Lincoln Financial Field to see the Eagles’ first practice in full pads under Kelly, they saw fast-paced, up-tempo action. But they didn’t see any hitting.

That was a shock, particularly to older fans who watched physical summer practices when Andy Reid, Buddy Ryan and Dick Vermeil coached the Eagles.

“It’s like they’re playing two-hand touch now,” said longtime fan Joe Iazulla. “They don’t even hit each other anymore. It’s sissy football.”

Former players were surprised, too. Brian Dawkins, Garry Cobb and others watched from the sideline on Alumni Day in disbelief. They wondered why they had to endure those rough, two-a-day practices not so long ago.

“We used to kill each other in camp,” said Cobb, a linebacker for Detroit, Philadelphia and Dallas from 1979-89. “Buddy worked us so hard that veteran players sometimes wanted to quit right there on the field. It was grueling. We left a lot of years on that practice field in training camp. Many of us could’ve played longer in the NFL if we didn’t hit that much in camp.”

No tackling is new to the Eagles, but it’s become normal around the NFL. Teams have been trending toward less physical camps in recent years, especially after the new collective bargaining agreement limited the number of practices and hitting.

The league is being sued by about 4,200 players who say they suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions, which they believe stem from on-field concussions.

49ers sign Wright

Cornerback Eric Wright has joined the San Francisco 49ers after all.

The free-agent defensive back signed a one-year contract Thursday and was placed on the non-football injury/illness list. San Francisco released cornerback Lowell Rose to clear room on the roster.

Wright had been traded from Tampa Bay to the reigning NFC champions last month for a conditional draft pick in 2014, but he failed his physical, nullifying the deal. Tampa Bay then released Wright.



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