The Eagles worked inside the Fish Field House for the first day of training camp practice. They were in helmets, shorts and short-sleeve shirts, as the team does not put on full pads until Wednesday.
The media was allowed to view the first 30 minutes of practice, then spoke to coach Steve Addazio, quarterback Anthony Brown, defensive end Zach Allen, running back AJ Dillon, and offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom.
A few observations:
— Sometimes, the first practice coming out is a little sloppy, but that wasn't totally the case here. The Eagles looked crisp through drills, and that's due to an overall experienced roster that does not have a lot of new faces to plug in. There are a few spots where the backups will need to catch up more quickly than others, but the pace was what you're looking for.
Said Dillon: "I love it, especially from the offensive perspective. If you can keep the defense on their toes, obviously it's a great weapon to have. Our offense, we just have so many pieces. So if we get back to the ball, we can throw it. We can get back and we can run, run, pass, pass. We can just try to keep the defense off-balance. It's just an amazing tool to have with (offensive coordinator Scot) Loeffler, and coach Addazio have done an excellent job of implementing it into our offense."
— Davon Jones, who has toggled between offense and defense throughout his career in a BC uniform, looked the part when warming up with the linebackers.
— The new facility was a hit with the players, and Allen and Dillon preached its importance in recruiting, too.
"As an athlete, and especially at BC, we've been blessed with this facility that we have now. You can't go wrong with having better facilities," Dillon said. "This facility is amazing. Today was Day 1 of practice. There's really nothing like it. I haven't been in anything like it. I've toured, when I was going through the recruiting process, I've been to a bunch of places. So this is really nice. It kind of added a different dynamic, and when we have our outside field ready, we're just going to be able to do so much more. So I feel this is definitely going to pay dividends."
Allen echoed those comments, then talked about the role it will play on those already on the roster.
"Well, it definitely helps in recruiting," Allen said. "I think that's the big thing, because having such a state-of-the-art facility and seeing that commitment that people are making towards BC football was huge. I came here without it. I definitely 100 percent would come back with it. It's definitely tremendous. And, also, when you have such a state-of-the-art facility, it helps you develop players faster, and there is truth to that. We are really excited to have it, and really excited to see the young guys grow and hopefully at a faster pace than my class and the classes before us."
— One of the big question marks coming into the season was how the team will fill depth along the defensive line. Even though, the Eagles did not miss much of a beat when Harold Landry missed the latter half of the season with an injury, Allen seemed optimistic about what they will have on the field.
"Definitely Tanner Karafa (is a returner worth keeping an eye out for)," Allen said. "I mean, he's been able to do everything for us. He was an end last year and able to play some coverage for our third-down deal. And he just gained and got up to 290, 295. He's athletic and strong. Then, on top of that, we've got some young guys who can come in and give us some quality reps, like a TJ Rayam on the inside, Bryce Morais or Marcus Valdez or Brandon Barlow, or even Isaiah Miranda. So it really is great to be a part of and a lot of fun playing with them, and watching them grow since they came in. So the fact that we have this depth now is really exciting."
— Speaking of weight, Addazio appeared to drop some pounds over the offseason. Asked if he had any advice for those wanting to do the same, he quipped, "Yeah, don't eat."
Dillon also looked slimmer than his listed 245 pounds, but he said it was more of a tightening up than a pure loss.
"I've leaned out. I'm pretty much the same (weight)," Dillon said. "I lost a lot of body fat and gained a little muscle. And I'm catching passes. I'm excited."
Dillon said the team doesn't test 40-yard dash times, but the last time he ran it, he clocked a 4.47.
— Dillon's hinting at catching passes showed in some early drills, which featured a healthy-looking Brown, who had good zip on his ball after coming back from his right knee injury that wiped out his 2017 season.
We won't know just how comfortable Brown feels in the pocket until live action, but he is taking it slow.
"It was amazing. It was nice to be out there with them. Just get a feel for it and try to work through me way through the speed," he said.
He added, "Just basically getting my legs, my knee getting ready through a full practice or game. Just knowing now that I've got to keep working every day, when I take my reps, everything's got to be full speed."
— Brown also revealed some words of wisdom he received on a visit from legendary Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"Yeah, he's a very special guy," Brown said. "He's a normal guy, though. He's very relaxed. He was very calm. He was very chill. He just gave me some motivating words on staying positive and keeping my teammates up, to continuing our process to getting ready for the season."
— The offensive line was at near full health, including center Jon Baker, who missed the greater portion of last season with an injury suffered in the opener against Northern Illinois, with Elijah Johnson the only non-participant on the entire roster. From left to right, the first unit was Aaron Monteiro, Sam Schmal, Baker, Lindstrom and Ben Petrula.
— Looking on were former Eagles offensive lineman and current head coach of St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, N.J., which is a major pipeline program to The Heights, and former Xaverian Brothers defensive end and fullback and BC fullback J.P. Comella.
Local prep coaches in attendance included Stoneham head man Bob Almeida and Noble & Greenough School's Panos Voulgaris.
Stoneham will feature one of the best two-way players in the state in Christos Argyropoulos, a 6-foot, 195-pound senior outside linebacker and running back.
Nobles has a host of talented prospects, including 6-5, 235-pound Class of 2020 tight end Cam Large and Class of 2021 and Michigan-offered linebacker Casey Phinney, a recent transfer out of Marshfield High, among others.
— According to the BC media relations department, two of the highlights during the portions media was not allowed to view were a completion by quarterback EJ Perry to Kobay White on a deep post, and two tight-rope, sideline receptions by Elijah Robinson in the 7-on-7 portion of practice.
— The Eagles are in just helmets again Saturday, helmets and shoulder pads on Sunday and Monday, then have a day off Tuesday for Media Day. The next practice the media will be allowed to view is on Wednesday, where the team will don full pads for the first time. On Saturday, August 11, the team will have its first of three scrimmages.