Avant drops down to earth

Posted: August 16, 2010

Crunch Time is a compilation of hits and misses from Eagles training camp at Lehigh:

BETHLEHEM - It would be an exaggeration to say that bystanders gasped.

But they did shake their heads in disbelief. The quick Kevin Kolb slant, thrown during a red-zone drill, hit Jason Avant's hands. Avant grasped the ball and stepped toward the end zone. Then Joselio Hanson stuck a hand in, and suddenly the ball was on the ground.

Was that a drop?

"I didn't drop it. I caught it, and he poked it out. It was a fumble!" Avant said later, smiling, before conceding that "Yeah, it'll count as [a drop]."

Last week, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Avant had caught "up near 80 balls" while being defended in this camp, without a drop. "I'm not sure I've ever had a man do that," said Mornhinweg, who has coached Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens, among others.

"I don't think about that stuff. Marty came up with that; I wish he would have never said [anything]," Avant said yesterday. "It's one of those things, you're playing football, you're out here, it's going to happen. You've just got to try to limit it, as a pro."

Last week, Avant said hand-eye coordination was something he has always had "a gift from God" that he doesn't feel he can take credit for developing.

Since so much was hanging in the balance, the Daily News asked Mornhinweg for an official ruling on whether Avant would be charged with a drop. Mornhinweg said he wasn't sure. But after consulting with wideouts coach David Culley - kind of like an ump conferring with his brethren - Mornhinweg issued his final decree: drop.

Avant made the whole thing moot by dropping another pass in the afternoon session, driven indoors by rain. No word yet on whether indoor drops count toward the official total.

Other highlights:

* Speaking of that red-zone work, it wasn't real pretty. The first-team defense was, again, ahead of the first-team offense. What success Kolb had was on scrambles. Several times he threw the ball away under blitz pressure, once having a pass blocked by middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. Bradley also broke up a pass in the back of the end zone to Brent Celek, very similar to the not-quite completion on the first drive against Jacksonville Friday.

* Michael Vick rolled left and found Hank Baskett in the corner of the end zone, Baskett practicing with his sore left knee heavily taped.

* Outside of the red zone, Kolb completed two nice deep balls to Jeremy Maclin and another to DeSean Jackson.

* Vick flicked a beautiful pass deep down the middle to Riley Cooper, who seems to be his favorite target.

- Les Bowen

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