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Eagles training camp observations: A hard hit as the pads come on


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Eagles training camp observations: A hard hit as the pads come on

The pads came on Tuesday at Eagles training camp so it's time for another round of practice observations

By Dave Zangaro  Published August 1, 2023


The Eagles were back on the practice field on Tuesday morning with a welcome addition: Pads.

This was the first practice of the summer for the Eagles in full pads.

"Felt great,” safety Reed Blankenship said. "Feels like football again.”

The Eagles have an off day on Wednesday but will be back at it on Thursday and Friday, their first consecutive days practicing this summer.

Here are 10 observations from Tuesday’s session:

1. As always, housekeeping:

The Eagles added one new player to the injury report. Receiver Deon Cain (ankle) did not practice.

Limited: Derek Barnett (knee), Avonte Maddox (toe), Haason Reddick (groin soreness)

Reddick returned to practice on Sunday and it was a good sign to see him back out there on Tuesday as the pads came on. He’s still not doing 11-on-11 drills yet but did some individual. Maddox got some more team drills for the second consecutive practice. Barnett actually participated in the developmental 7-on-7 late in practice, likely just a step toward his full return.

2. Depth chart notes from Tuesday:

• Cam Jurgens remained as the first-team right guard. Four days in a row in this "competition” for a starting spot. Tyler Steen remained with the twos.

• The second-team offensive line had Dennis Kelly at right tackle and Jack Driscoll at left tackle for the second straight practice. That is flipped from earlier in camp. The Eagles probably just want to get both players comfortable on each side.

• Reed Blankenship continues to get all the first-team reps at safety but the other position continues to be a rotation between Terrell Edmunds and K’Von Wallace. It’s been one of the surprises of training camp, but Wallace got more first-team reps on Tuesday. Sydney Brown got some second-team reps on Tuesday; it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes before he gets with the first team.

• Zech McPhearson began the day as the first-team nickel but eventually Maddox worked in some. And late in the practice, second-year cornerback Mario Goodrich got some run as the first-team nickel. Goodrich has also been on several special teams units. He could be a sneaky player to watch the rest of the summer.

• While Nakobe Dean and Nicholas Morrow began the day with the first team at linebacker, Christian Elliss did rotate in for Morrow. That has been happening most days this summer.

• Tanner McKee and Ian Book continue to split third-team reps at quarterback.

• Punt return order: Britain Covey, Greg Ward Jr., Olamide Zaccheus, Quez Watkins.

3. Breaking news: A.J. Brown is still really good. Brown made a few more great plays in Tuesday’s session. In the second 11-on-11 period, Brown had two impressive catches against James Bradberry. The first was thrown to Brown’s back shoulder and he had to adjust with the ball in the air. On the very next play, Brown ran a curl and was able to use his body to shield Bradberry from the ball.

And then late in practice, Jalen Hurts unleashed a deep ball of about 50 yards to Brown, who ran a post to get past Bradberry. Bradberry was a second-team All-Pro last year; he’s a very good player who is having an excellent training camp. But at his best, Brown is pretty uncoverable.

DeVonta Smith also started off practice with a touchdown catch on a rep that began at the 3-yard line. Hurts rolled right and found a wide-open 6 in the end zone. Brown and Smith continue to impress.

4. We saw the biggest hit so far in the summer and it was No. 43 on 43 crime. Rookie UDFA cornerback Mekhi Garner lowered his shoulder into receiver Charleston Rambo in the open field and Rambo went flying. The pass from third-stringer McKee definitely led Rambo into the danger zone and Garner made him pay. The defense celebrated the big hit but Rambo was able to hold on to the football. The sounds of pads popping gets you ready for real football.

5. With the pads on for the first time this summer, we got to watch my favorite part of training camp: Offensive line vs. defensive line 1-on-1 drills. Although, today’s session wasn’t the most exciting. Here are some notes:

• A few periods before the 1-on-1s, they worked some 2-on-2s, which allowed the chance for some games. It was good to see Jordan Davis and Josh Sweat execute a T-E stunt very smoothly.

• Fifth-year offensive lineman Fred Johnson had an impressive rep, standing up to the powerful bullrush of Brandon Graham. Johnson earned some respect from his teammates on that one.

• In 1-on-1s, for the most part, it was a better day for the offensive line. They were able to hold their ground: Good rep from Cam Jurgens against Fletcher Cox. Jason Kelce stood up Marlon Tuipulotu. Landon Dickerson held his ground against big ol’ Jordan Davis.

• Nolan Smith showed off his quickness, dipping under rookie tackle Chim Okorafor with a quick rush. Sure, you’d expect Smith to be able to beat Okorafor, but he was still very fast around the edge.

• Derek Barnett pulled off an impressive spin move against tackle Roderick Johnson for a clear path to the QB.

• Nice rep from Kyron Johnson against Fred Johnson. Had an initial powerful bull and then recovered quickly after the initial collision. Johnson is back on the edge after playing off-ball linebacker in the spring. He’s made some splash plays but it’s a crowded group.

• I thought Jalen Carter had a nice rep against Jurgens but it wasn’t a clean win. Looking forward to those two battling more this summer.

6. Josh Sweat’s speed in pursuit is extremely impressive. There was one play when the second-team offense was working against the first-team defense when Marcus Mariota tried to scramble around the left side of the line. Sweat was with him every step of the way. Sweat was able to set the edge and Mariota had a very minimal gain on the play. Long strides from No. 94. Sweat also had a sack later in the practice. He’s off to a nice start.

As quick as Sweat looked in that instance, there was one play that put Graham in a tough spot. He ended up covering Covey out of the slot and Covey was able to separate easily and pick up a nice gain.

7. Mariota threw another interception on Tuesday. It’s his third of the summer. This time, there appeared to be another miscommunication because the ball went directly to Wallace in such a way that it looked like Wallace was the intended receiver. I’m not sure what it says that two of Mariota’s interceptions have been thrown directly to defenders.

8. The Eagles have put a lot out on tape in the last few years with Hurts as a runner and it’s fun to think about all the wrinkles they can add off of that. We saw one on Tuesday, when a few plays after a QB draw, Hurts ran a fake draw play, then dropped back and found a wide-open DeVonta Smith for a big gain in the middle of the field.

9. We saw some three-safety looks for the first time in this Sean Desai defense. This is an element that we might see at times this season. They ran a few plays with three safeties that I noticed and it was the same three players with the second-team defense: Justin Evans, Wallace and Brown.

10. Late in practice, we saw a blitz from Morrow around the left side of the defensive line for a "sack” against Book. Morrow has struggled a bit early in coverage this camp but showed off his speed, getting into the backfield untouched.

Stupid Observation of the Day: There was a new addition to practice on Tuesday:



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