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6 Eagles training camp observations from practice No. 7: Coaching staff doesn’t hold back; Zech McPhearson gets starter reps


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6 Eagles training camp observations from practice No. 7: Coaching staff doesn’t hold back; Zech McPhearson gets starter reps

Updated Aug 04, 2021; Posted Aug 04, 2021

By Mike Kaye | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles competed in pads on Wednesday during their seventh practice of training camp at the NovaCare Complex.

While players weren’t allowed to tackle to the ground, the "thud” sound of shoulder pads smashing into each other could be heard regularly throughout the physical workout.

PREVIOUS PRACTICE OBSERVATIONS: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6

Here are six observations from Wednesday’s practice:

Nick Sirianni’s staff isn’t holding back

Following an early second-team 11-on-11 period, WR Jalen Reagor was screamed at by head coach Nick Sirianni. With Jay-Z’s greatest hits blasting out of a nearby speaker, it was hard to hear what Sirianni was saying to the former first-round pick, but the head coach looked livid and clearly ripped into Reagor, who said Tuesday that he appreciated being held accountable by the new staff.

After Reagor was chastised by Sirianni, QB Jalen Hurts pulled him aside and the two seemingly discussed what went wrong and Hurts, presumably, talked him through it. Hurts looked like a very attentive leader in the moment.

The Sirianni-Reagor spat wasn’t a rarity at training camp practice. Sirianni has been riled up and yelled at players, both individually and as a group, a handful of times during the first seven practices. Even when the staff isn’t screaming, the coaches are teaching players in between reps. The accountability factor this early in camp has been intense on the field. Frankly, the staff has been on top of its players at a relentless pace this summer.

Another mixed bag for Hurts

Hurts has done a strong job of rebounding from mistakes during training camp. While his performance has been middling thus far, his ability to bounce back from bad plays is impressive.

Wednesday, during 11-on-11 work, Hurts threw his worst pass of the summer. He targeted (someone?) in the middle of the field and was picked off by rookie safety-turned-linebacker JaCoby Stevens near the right seam. From the sideline, it didn’t look like any offensive weapons were in the sightline of the pass, as Stevens was simply in the area and nabbed the ball.

On the next play, Hurts made one of his most impressive throws of camp. Wide receiver John Hightower was battling standout rookie cornerback Zech McPhearson down the left sideline when Hurts launched a beautiful ball to the area. Hightower leaped up and made the catch over McPhearson, who had perfect coverage on the play. As they say, a perfect pass can beat perfect coverage. It was easily the most impressive play by Hightower during camp, and Hurts’ immediate ability to move on from the pick and put up a highlight reel throw showed a glimpse of his tenacity.

Hurts had some strong moments in 7-on-7 drills as well. He connected with TE Dallas Goedert on a pair of touchdowns in red-zone drills. (More on this performance in Chris Franklin’s daily QB report card later this afternoon).

Writers aren’t the only ones noticing Zech McPhearson

With Darius Slay taking the day for scheduled "maintenance,” McPhearson played the entire practice with the first-team defense opposite Avonte Maddox (nickel) and Steven Nelson. McPhearson looks the part of an NFL cornerback. He’s physical, has a nose for the ball and is competitive on every drill.

Tuesday, McPhearson said he studies Slay in practice and on tape. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said Wednesday after practice that he hopes McPhearson learns from Slay’s confidence and his ability to move onto the next play after giving up a catch. McPhearson didn’t seem to allow much space to receivers after the Hightower catch.

Roster moves

The Eagles took safety Andrews Adams off the reserve/COVID-19 list before practice. CB Nate Meadors (hamstring) was waived/injured as a result.

Meadors failed to practice at all this summer and he will revert to injured reserve if he passes through waivers unclaimed. Adams spent the past two days working with a trainer on an opposite field, and he missed the entire first week of practice on the reserve list.

Linebacker Alex Singleton returned to the sideline, but remained on the list. Defensive end Matt Leo also remains on the list.

Eagles need some veteran wide receiver help

With DeVonta Smith sidelined, the Eagles wide receiver group has underwhelmed.

Quez Watkins and Travis Fulgham have offered highlights, but otherwise, the positives have been few and far between for the position in camp. Reagor has had trouble getting open since returning to work, and Hightower has been hot and cold in team drills. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is having a solid camp, but at this point, the Eagles need more than "solid.” When reporters are on the sideline musing about Jhamon Ausbon potentially making the roster after making some catches against air, there’s an issue with the depth at wide receiver.

It’s unclear what the solution would be at wideout at this point. The Eagles famously have four picks in the first two rounds guaranteed for next year, and an additional fifth-round pick, so perhaps they can reach into their draft piggy bank and make a move for an enticing, proven talent. It’s highly unlikely the Eagles will dial Alshon Jeffery’s number, and it’s probably even less likely that they’ll look into bringing back Golden Tate. So, they may need to look into the trade market during the next few weeks.

Smith, Fulgham and Watkins aren’t enough.

Injury updates

Slay, DT Fletcher Cox, TE Zach Ertz, DE Brandon Graham, RT Lane Johnson and C Jason Kelce all took a maintenance day, freeing up reps for the younger guys.

Linebacker Davion Taylor (calf), who left practice early on Tuesday, was listed as week-to-week by the team. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (thumb) worked in a limited capacity during the workout.

Wide receiver DeVonta Smith (knee), right guard Brandon Brooks (hamstring), wide receiver Michael Walker (foot), tight end Jason Croom (knee) and left guard Isaac Seumalo (hamstring) were still sidelined with injuries.

FS Rodney McLeod (knee) and OT Le’Raven Clark (Achilles) remained on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but were seen working on another field during practice. Second-round lineman Landon Dickerson remains on the non-football injury (NFI) list.

QB EVALUATIONS: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6


  • Rookie center Harry Crider seems to be on the snapping-end of a lot of muffed snaps through the first week of practice. QB Joe Flacco was unable to handle a snap during second-team drills on Wednesday that came from Crider.
  • Another practice, another drop by RB Miles Sanders. During 7-on-7 red-zone drills, Hurts threw a bit behind Sanders, but the ball should have been caught, as it hit him square in the hands. Sanders was visibly frustrated after the play.
  • For better or worse, Sirianni pays a TON of attention to the wide receiver drills. Sirianni is constantly talking to the position group, which justifiably needs tough coaching and accountability.
  • Andre Dillard has been a target for criticism throughout camp, but at least in 11-on-11 first-team drills, he looked competent on Wednesday. Josh Sweat has become a tough task for everyone, but he and Dillard had a nice back-and-forth battle in team drills. NJ Advance Media didn’t watch 1-on-1 pass rush drills, as they took place during 7-on-7 red-zone work.
  • DB Andrew Adams, who returned from the reserve/COVID-19 list, had an impressive "tackle for loss” on a run play during 11-on-11 team drills.
  • RB Jason Huntley had another impressive chunk run against the depth defense. His stock is seemingly skyrocketing at this point in camp.
  • TE Tyree Jackson was actually finally contained from highlights on the day. Take a breath, Eagles fans.
  • Following practice, likely starting left tackle Jordan Mailata worked with likely starting linebacker Eric Wilson on the center field. It’s hard to know what they were working on, but Wilson seemed to be talking Mailata through blocking progressions into the second layer of the defense. That’s a nice leadership move by Wilson.
  • Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was at practice for a second straight day. He wasn’t wearing Eagles team gear, which is respectable.
  • The Eagles have played the Beastie Boys at practice every day this week.


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Great to see the 4th round CB stand out.  He is a player.  Not often we draft guys who show up and can actually play well.  On that note...WR is still as bad as ever.  Can't believe we are going into the season with this subpar group...AGAIN...And with a marginal starting QB.  Sure would be nice to give Hurts a better chance at success with competent WRs but Howie is just incapable of addressing the problem successfully.  Might be ok with Jefferson on the team or one of the many excellent WRs taken after Whiteside.  But alas...Maybe the new coaching staff will be able to dial up plays and schemes to throw the ball and maybe the 1st rounder can stay healthy enough to open it up for the others.  But this is a daunting task with the lack of talent at the position, without speed, route running, ability to separate.  It's just not there.  Maybe last year's 6th rounder will contribute.  He has potential.  We'll see...Got to be able to throw the ball well in today's NFL just to have a .500 record.

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This has to be concerning.

Smith, Fulgham and Watkins aren’t enough.

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2 hours ago, jsdarkstar said:

This has to be concerning.

Smith, Fulgham and Watkins aren’t enough.

That’s what happens when you draft a bust WR in the 2nd, and a possible good #2 in the first.

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Yeah they need to add a veteran WR there's really no doubt about that. They need just someone who's reliable. Not elite but reliable. 

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