Eagles Wake-Up Call: Practice Observations
The Eagles were back in the Linc for the second — and final — open practice last night. Here’s what we saw.
7:00 — Attendance is just 17,389 tonight, which is down from the first open practice (18,276). At last year’s Military Appreciation Day, attendance was 43,000.
7:05 — Mychal Kendricks, Jordan Matthews, Jalen Mills and Carson Wentz aren’t practicing today. Wentz says afterward he hopes to return at some point in the preseason, but the only thing holding him back from practice is pain tolerance.
7:15 — As the Eagles leak out of the tunnel, Wentz gets the loudest cheer. Surprisingly, Sam Bradford gets almost as much love as Wentz. Ron Brooks throws his gloves in the stands, while one female fan looks like she’s about to faint after Rodney McLeod waves to her.
7:45 — As Jimmy Kempski points out, JaCory Shepherd’s last name is misspelled — there’s an ‘a’ instead of the last ‘e’ — on the back of his jersey. Whichever military member gets Shepherd’s jersey after practice will have an interesting keepsake.
8:02 — More trick plays tonight. This time, Chase Daniel tosses the ball to the left to Kenjon Barner, who pitches it back to Rueben Randle, who connects with Daniel down the right sideline. Perhaps it’s just because the Eagles aren’t fully comfortable with the offense yet, but these trick plays take way too long to develop sometimes.
8:06 — As 11-on-11s begin, Allen Barbre is back at right tackle with the first-team offense, while Isaac Seumalo is playing left guard. Perhaps the Eagles will rotate their starters by the week and not by day throughout preseason, but Seumalo may be the early favorite to start over Stefen Wisniewski if Barbre does move over. I’m not sure if that says more about Seumalo or Wisniewski at this point.
8:11 — Destiny Vaeao does a nice job of causing disruption in 11-on-11s, and he crushes Barrett Jones later in one-on-ons. Jones hasn’t been very good, particularly at center, but Vaeao keeps popping up. Jim Schwartz touched on both Vaeao and Aziz Shittu before practice in his press conference.
“They got good penetration in the game,” he said. “I think when you’re a defensive tackle in this game, that’s one of the things you’re judged on is your ability to disrupt the run game. Some schemes ask guys to occupy space and hold off blockers and things like that. In this game, they are asking you to get penetration and be disruptive. At times, both of those guys did that. Just like a lot of young players, they have inconsistencies and things they are working on. But both of them showed that they have the ability to be disruptors.”
8:17 — Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll are the two cornerbacks out there with the first-team defense, while Ron Brooks comes out in nickel. A couple of minutes later, Marcus Smith gets second-team reps at defensive end before Steven Means comes in. Smith easily beats Matt Tobin on one pass play, as he turns in a pretty good day and tries to make up for the week he missed.
8:27 — The Eagles’ second-team offensive line, from left to right: Tobin, Dennis Kelly, Josh Andrews, Wisniewski and Lane Johnson. I wonder who joins the second team if Johnson gets suspended. Halapoulivaati Vaitai?
8:31 — Randle catches a tough touchdown catch in traffic, and he looks very good tonight as he later hauls in a one-handed touchdown catch. But later on, he ends practice on a bad note as he drops a ball in the end zone.
8:34 — The kicker battle continues, which means Caleb Sturgis extends his lead over Cody Parkey. Sturgis makes six of his seven field goal attempts, while Parkey misses two. Sturgis is now 34-for-38 (89.5%) during training camp, while Parkey is 28-for-38 (73.4%). It’s gotten to the point where even if something happens to Sturgis, I may look at other kickers to sign over keeping Parkey.
8:51 — Now, for the best part of practice: Offensive vs. defensive line one-on-ones. Vinny Curry uses a bull rush to easily beat Johnson, while Fletcher Cox crushes Wisniewski inside. After Wisniewski saw his stock rise while filling in for Brandon Brooks to start training camp, it’s been leveling off for the past week. Later, Connor Barwin throws Tobin aside, while Beau Allen beats Kelly inside.
8:52 — The offensive and defensive linemen are battling in the end zone, so the fans aren’t too far away. While one guy keeps yelling at Fletcher Cox (Fletcher, you are God!), another takes aim at Johnson: “Was it worth it, Lane?”
That’s it. We’ll be back soon as a 10-10-10 practice starts at 9:05.
WHAT YOU MISSED
After practice, Carson Wentz said he hopes to return before the preseason ends.
Prior to practice, the Eagles cut offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche and wide receiver Deon Long.
The Eagles reportedly reached out to former Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty.
“I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but he’s gonna be a special player.” NFC East Roundup.
Wentz suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs during Thursday’s preseason win over Tampa Bay and could miss the remainder of the preseason.
“There’s no worse feeling to have to go through this again.” Lane Johnson is not confident his B sample will turn out negative.
Allen Barbre moved to right tackle, while rookie Isaac Seumalo moved to left guard during Saturday’s practice.
“In short: He looked the part.” Weekend Reading.
“The respectful, colorful community you cultivated in the years since is perhaps the greatest point of pride for us.” Passing the torch at Birds 24/7.
Photos from Thursday’s game courtesy of Jeff Fusco.
“I was really impressed with the way he handled himself tonight.” Reviewing Wentz’s first NFL game.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Right now, Barbre at right tackle seems like Doug Pederson’s initial plan, although anything can change at this point, as Zach Berman of the Inquirer reports.
Pederson values Barbre’s athleticism and intelligence. The adjustment for the nine-year veteran is not just to the position but also to the side of the field. Barbre has become used to playing on the left. He said he needs to flip the plays in his head, and it requires different angles and footwork.
“I’ve played a lot of snaps at left,” Barbre said. “So naturally I’m more comfortable there. I’m going to go out and work hard every day at right, maybe I’ll be comfortable there too someday.”
Seumalo’s promotion came after an unimpressive preseason debut. He was part of a second-team line that allowed four sacks of backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
“I’m a really harsh critic of myself and hold myself to a high standard and Thursday was not where I want to be,” Seumalo said. “At the same time I understand it’s preseason and it’s my first game . . . but I can’t really think of that. I just try to think what can I do to get better, what can I work on, how do I mentally and physically prepare leading up to games. What can I just do to get better?”
He said he was “overthinking stuff” in the game, and that caused him to play slow. Seumalo spoke to center Jason Kelce about the issue, and Kelce’s advice was to think about something that triggers in his mind to play fast.
“I thought about that, and to me it’s just about finishing every play and that’s something I’ve got to do,” Seumalo said. “It’s just got to be effortless so that when I go out there I don’t think about it and I can play as fast as I can.”
After a rough preseason opener against Tampa Bay on Thursday, rookie Jalen Mills is looking to improve on his mistakes, pens Andrew Kulp of CSNPhilly.com.
While he may very well be one of the top corners on the roster, prior to Thursday, we had only seen Mills go up against suspect Eagles receivers. His performance versus the Bucs suggests he still has a ways to go.
Most notable was the pass interference penalty, but there was also one the refs should have called on Mills but let slide.
In the first quarter, Mike Evans had a step on Mills downfield, and the cornerback grabbed the wide receiver while the pass was in the air. Curiously, no flag was thrown, perhaps because the pass appeared to be overthrown, but there easily could’ve been a call.
Later, Mills did draw a flag on a third-and-short attempt to Kenny Bell. While the coverage was good, Mills never turned around to look for the ball and wound up interfering.
“A couple things I could clean up on,” Mills said. “On that one third-down play, I could’ve cleaned up my hands. I was on that guy but just got out of whack with my hands.”
The Eagles return to the NovaCare Complex for a 9:05 a.m. start time. Frank Reich is scheduled to address the media afterward.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.