Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations
The Eagles were back in pads today, and practiced for nearly three hours. Here’s what we saw:
8:00 — First, injury updates. Malcolm Jenkins (hamstring), Mike Martin (knee), Jordan Matthews (knee), Jason Peters (quad), JaCorey Shepherd (hamstring), Wendell Smallwood (quad) and Marcus Smith (concussion) are all still out. Rodney McLeod is back, though, after being excused for a funeral.
8:32 — All of the specialists — John DePalma, Jon Dorenbos, Donnie Jones, Cody Parkey and Caleb Sturgis — walk off the field back into the building. It’s unclear why, but as Jones walks by, he flexes his left bicep and jokes he’s going to go lift some weights. “I’m going sleeveless this year,” he says.
8:46 — Doug Pederson unveils another new trick play. This time, Chase Daniel tosses the ball to Darren Sproles who runs to the right out of the I-formation. Then, Sproles throws the ball backward across the formation to Daniel, who then throws the ball down the left side of the field to Brent Celek. Sproles’ throw was a little high, and the timing was way off, but maybe we’ll see some more trick plays from the Pederson regime.
8:47 — Carson Wentz shows off his impressive arm strength on a 40-yard go route to David Watford, who drops the ball. The crowd isn’t happy to see the ball go through another wide receiver’s hands, so they let out some joking boos. One security guard along the sideline, who is clearly new in town, says: “No! Eagles fans don’t boo!”
8:49 — With Jenkins still out, Ed Reynolds gets the nod alongside Rodney McLeod on the first-team defense. Although there’s some uncertainty as to who the Eagles will keep as backup safeties, Reynolds seems like a relatively safe bet to make the 53-man roster. On the other side of the ball, Nelson Agholor and Chris Givens are the starting outside receivers, with Josh Huff taking Matthews’ spot in the slot. I imagine Pederson will roll out Agholor, Givens and Matthews as the starters in three-receiver sets, at least early on.
8:52 — Sam Bradford is picked off by Jalen Mills, who has recreated some of the momentum he built for himself before the Eagles put pads on. Jim Schwartz says after practice that Mills has been “up and down” so far.
“What I like him about is he’s very competitive,” Schwartz said. “He comes back and he doesn’t shy away from contact. He doesn’t shy away from match-ups. You need that at corner. If you’re on the edge and you don’t embrace being on that island, you’re in the wrong business. Philly’s had great history of some corners that were on islands that embraced that, and I think Jalen has showed some signs that he can do those things. He’s still young, he’s still inconsistent, he’s got his ups and his downs, but he comes ready to battle every day.”
8:59 — Huff makes an impressive diving touchdown catch on a slant route from Bradford. On the next rep, though, Huff appears to drop the ball. It’s unclear if Aaron Grymes got a hand on the ball, but Huff has a similar play later in practice, and it’s getting hard to give him the benefit of the doubt in those types of situations.
9:01 — Zach Ertz catches the ball in the flat, with Denzel Rice chasing him down. Cory Undlin yells at Rice to tackle Ertz, before Agholor responds with: “Run his ass over!” Unfortunately, it’s only a thud drill, so the two hit up high and combine for an anticlimactic ending.
9:05 — Cayleb Jones drops a laser from Bradford in the back of the end zone, so he drops to the ground for 10 push-ups. If every receiver did that, the quarterbacks would never have any targets to throw to during practice. On the next play, Bradford overthrows Trey Burton, but the ball boy behind the end zone somehow catches the bullet. Maybe we’ll see the ball boy out there tomorrow.
9:11 — Brandon Brooks makes his presence known on back-to-back plays. First, he easily drives Mychal Kendricks out of the hole. Then, he seals Jordan Hicks to the inside. Brooks is just a massive guard.
9:22 — McLeod picks off Bradford, and I honestly can’t remember the last time McLeod went an entire practice without an interception.
9:26 — Kendricks gives Ertz a little extra pop at the end of a play, before Undlin and the rest of the defense start clapping and making noise. It wouldn’t be shocking if that had something to do with Ertz’s comments on Friday.
9:45 — Kicker battle! Caleb Sturgis goes 9-for-10 today on field goals, while Cody Parkey is 8-for-10. Sturgis clearly has a stronger leg right now and is more accurate, and he’s been significantly better during camp. Sturgis is now 28-for-31 this summer, while Parkey is 23-for-31.
9:54 — After a day off from this drill, the offensive-defensive line pass-rushing battle resumes. Vinny Curry displays a nice inside move at defensive tackle against Stefen Wisniewski, which makes me wonder how much Schwartz will shift Curry inside next to Fletcher Cox, with Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham on the outside on obvious passing downs.
9:58 — Matt Tobin and Dennis Kelly aren’t inspiring much confidence as the backup offensive tackles, but Andrew Gardner doesn’t look too bad. Steven Means quickly gets around the edge against Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who hasn’t done anything to suggest he should make the 53-man roster except for being drafted in the fifth round by a team with unimpressive depth.
Means, though, has played well recently. After practice, Schwartz says: “Pun intended: He means business. He comes to work. He’s physical. He fits the scheme. He’s tall. He’s got long arms. He can build some power with speed. You might want to ask the tight ends about him, because he’s been giving those guys some tough situations to handle.”
10:07 — Carson Wentz is picked off by Randall Evans in 7-on-7s, as he under-throws a fade route. All of the quarterbacks, as well as the offense as a whole, has had a down day today. Each signal-caller threw at least one interception, while Bradford reinforces the notion a few minutes later as he badly overthrows Rueben Randle on a bubble screen.
That’s it for today. We’ll be back tomorrow at 8:05, with Pederson scheduled to address the media after practice.