Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

Our takeaways from Eagles practice.

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

Carson Wentz. (Jeff Fusco)

The Eagles remained in pads today, and had one of their longest practices of training camp so far. Here’s what we saw.

8:03 — As the players walk out onto the field, Barrett Brooks is aching to get in on the action. “Give me three plays!” he insists. “I’ll smash them! These guys better than Reggie White? Nope. Give me three plays.”

8:09 — Vinny Curry stops on his way to the field to shake hands with fans and to briefly talk to each person. I’ve been impressed with the lengths some players have gone to to make fans happy. Chris Givens came back out on Monday almost a half hour after practice ended to give a fan his gloves and to sign more autographs.

8:51 — The Eagles are working on shifting formations, and I’m curious how much of this we’ll actually see in games. One thing I’m not sure people realize about Doug Pederson is how much he’s willing to adapt and try new things. I expect him to be a little more creative as a play caller than people expect, although we’ll see just how much this stuff actually translates to the regular season.

9:12 — Chase Daniel throws a nice 25-yard touchdown pass to Paul Turner, who ran a corner route. The undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech showed up a few times today, including on a touchdown catch on a post route from Carson Wentz a little bit later, which was a nice drop in the bucket from Wentz.

Pederson gave Turner — or “PT” — some love yesterday, while Sam Bradford did the same today.

“Yeah, he does [catch everything]. He’s just got a great feel for the game. He’s one of those guys — he’s a good route-runner, but not just that, his ability to find zones, to recognize coverage, to know whether he’s working off the man in front of him or if he’s working on a man in the second level. I think he’s just got a really good, natural feel for how to find soft spots in the defense. And he’s made a lot of plays for us, too.”

9:15 — Wentz throws another nice ball to Cayleb Jones on a corner route, but then throws an interception. Rodney McLeod, who was sitting back in a cover two zone on the right side, easily undercut the throw. McLeod has been around the ball throughout training camp racking up interceptions, and although part of it could be due to his competition, he seems like he’s got a nose for the ball.

9:17 — Aaron Grymes picks off Daniel by simply taking the ball from Rueben Randle, and then breaks up another pass in his next rep. We have a long way to go before final cuts, but Grymes seems like a great candidate for the practice squad.

9:24 — Jason Peters goes down with a quad injury, not long after Malcolm Jenkins left practice with a hamstring injury. Neither returned, although the extent of their injuries is unknown. As Tim mentioned, Peters battled a quad injury last season which prevented him from playing at times, but it’s unclear whether this is related to what he previously went through.

9:31 — 11-on-11s start, and Matt Tobin is Peters’ replacement. If I had to guess, though, I think the team would handle it differently during the season if Peters misses significant time at some point. I imagine they would shift Lane Johnson to the left side, plug Allen Barbre at right tackle and play Stefen Wisniewski at left guard.

But on the first play here, Sam Bradford hits Jordan Matthews on a 25-yard corner route. A few snaps later, Givens scores an easy touchdown after creating a ton of separation at the top of his route. When the Eagles signed Givens, I didn’t expect his role to be very big. But it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s among the top three receivers in snaps this year.

9:34 — Trey Burton isn’t able to hold onto a tough catch in the end zone, prompting one ballboy to say that was the first drop he’s seen from Burton during training camp. I’m not sure if the tight end has been that sure-handed, but he has consistently stood out during practice.

9:48 — Byron Marshall, the undrafted free agent who we’re finally getting a glimpse of after the graduation rule prevented him from participating in OTAs and minicamp, flashes twice in a few minutes. He essentially pulls the ball off the ground before it touches the turf on a low delivery, before grabbing a touchdown pass from Wentz in the corner of the end zone. I’m very interested to see how Pederson employs Marshall during the preseason.

9:58 — Special teams time, which is also known as Rita’s time. Now that I’ve had all four flavors they offer at training camp, I can debut the official Birds 24/7 Rita’s Power Rankings ©:

  1. Mango
  2. Cherry Lemonade
  3. Blue Ras
  4. Swedish Fish

10:11 — Now, for my favorite part of practice: one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen. Curry gets things going early on by just bulldozing Dennis Kelly, which makes Brandon Graham start screaming. Graham’s narration of this drill is easily one of the most entertaining things all day.

10:13 — Beau Allen displays a nice club move to get Josh Andrews off balance, and Bennie Logan gives Isaac Seumalo some trouble with a bull rush. I came away unimpressed with Seumalo during these drills, though T-Mac was a little higher on him. One thing we can agree on? Taylor Hart was far from impressive.

After Mike Martin, I think there’s a noticeable drop-off on the Eagles’ defensive tackle depth chart. I’d slot Allen in that fourth spot, but it wouldn’t surprise me if an undrafted free agent like Destiny Vaeao makes a push for a place on the roster.

10:14 — Meanwhile, in Tennessee.

10:18  Andrew Gardner does a good job of stonewalling Connor Barwin, who didn’t look particularly good during this drill when pass rushers try to get to the quarterback. A few plays later Johnson does a great job against Curry, who has previously given the right tackle trouble throughout camp.

10:21 — Steven Means is up, which gets Graham excited: “Get it 5-1!” Means displays an impressive spin move, which prompts more screaming from Graham. Surprisingly, Fletcher Cox is a bit boring to watch in this drill, because his bull rush is good enough where he doesn’t have to show a variety of moves to win.

10:33 — Back to 11-on-11s. It’s a good thing Wentz is mobile, because the offensive line is doing a poor job of protecting the quarterback — whether it’s Bradford, Daniel or the rookie. The starting unit featured Tobin and Barbre next to each other on the left side, which didn’t go very well.

10:49 — A scuffle breaks out, in which Fletcher Cox completely clobbers an offensive lineman out of nowhere. It appears Barwin and Barbre could have possibly been in the middle of it, but unsurprisingly, every Eagle asked about it after practice said they didn’t know who was involved.

That’s it for today, but we’ll be back tomorrow at 8:05, with Pederson scheduled to address the media afterward.