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Eagles training camp observations: A couple of Georgia rookies pop


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Eagles training camp observations: A couple of Georgia rookies pop

The Eagles were back in pads for Day 5 of training camp, so it's time for another set of practice observations

By Dave Zangaro  Published August 3, 2023


The Eagles were back on the field in pads Thursday morning and will have their first days back-to-back with another session on Friday.

After Friday’s practice, the Eagles will hold a walkthrough on Saturday before the public practice at the Linc on Sunday night.

It was a cool, overcast morning at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday.

Let’s not waste any time. To the observations:

1. As always, we’ll start with housekeeping: 

Same injury report to start Day 5 as we saw on Day 4:

Did not practice: WR Deon Cain (ankle)

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

There were two injuries during practice on Thursday. Linebacker Nakobe Dean left during individual drills and took a long trip into the trainer’s tent just off the field. He returned to the sideline but did not participate in the rest of the practice. The fact that he remained as a spectator and didn’t go inside appeared to be good news. 

Ditto for cornerback James Bradberry, who took a trip to the trainer’s tent toward the end of practice before becoming a spectator on the sideline. He hung around after practice, spending time with his children.

The Eagles practice again tomorrow morning, so we won’t have to wait long for an official update from the team.

2. A few depth chart notes:

• Second-year OL Cam Jurgens was again the first-team right guard but perhaps the best sign for Jurgens being the starter appeared while watching the second-team OL. Rookie Tyler Steen got work as the second-team left tackle, Dennis Kelly was at left guard and Jack Driscoll was at right tackle.

Before today, every rep Steen got was as the second-team right guard. But Steen played tackle in college and it appears the Eagles are using his versatility now. If Steen isn’t going to be a starter, he needs to be a backup capable of filling in at multiple positions.

• Without Dean in team drills, Nicholas Morrow lined up next to Christian Elliss with the first team. Those two are believed to be fighting for the same weakside linebacker position. When the team had just one linebacker, it was Morrow.

• Zech McPhearson took the first first-team reps at nickel corner. Maddox is still recovering from an injury and McPhearson has gotten most of the reps in his place.

• After Bradberry left practice, second-year cornerback Josh Jobe got bumped up to the first-team opposite Darius Slay. Interesting that it was Jobe and not veteran Greedy Williams, but that could just be because of the sides they typically play.

• Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds began the day as the first-team safeties, which has become the norm but Nick Sirianni said before practice that K’Von Wallace is one of the guys fighting for the open safety spot. The others are presumably Edmunds and rookie Sydney Brown. Blankenship has gotten every first-team rep and appears to have solidified one of those jobs.

• Second day in a row with some three-safety looks. This could be a tool in the defense.

• Kick returners from Thursday: Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny, Kenny Gainwell and … A.J. Brown.

3. Rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo from Georgia had a nice pass breakup in team drills. While working in a session with the second-team defense against the first-team offense, Ringo lined up against DeVonta Smith out wide. The situation was 3rd-and-goal from the 10. Smith ran a 10-yard out and Ringo jumped it to knock away the pass, which did come out a tad late from Jalen Hurts. Still, good moment for the rookie, who has mostly been buried on the third team so far.

4. It was a notable day for another Georgia rookie: Nolan Smith. While we have to mention that Dean was out of practice pretty early but Smith got a couple reps at off-ball linebacker. Smith is an intriguing player because of his athleticism and he has the ability to play off-ball. It makes you wonder if Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai will find some innovative ways to get Smith on the field this year instead of just running him as the fourth edge rusher in the rotation.

Smith has also become the star of 1-on-1s. He had an insanely quick move around Chim Okorafor on Tuesday and followed it up with a couple impressive reps on Thursday. Working against Steen at left tackle, Smith had another crazy bendy rush around the edge. Smith has the ability to grab grass while accelerating around the edge. And a bit later he used a push-pull move to toss aside rookie Trevor Reid in a 1-on-1. Good day for Smith.

5. Some other notes from OL-DL 1-on-1s:

• Lane Johnson dealt with a Brandon Graham bullrush, although it did move him back into the pocket. Those two have been going at it for a decade.

• Cam Jurgens had a nice rep against Fletcher Cox, using his leverage to stop the six-time Pro Bowler.

• While Jason Kelce hasn’t gotten a veteran day off yet, the Eagles do give him breathers. For instance, Kelce didn’t participate in these 1-on-1s. It was Brett Toth trying to stop Jordan Davis. Davis moved him off his spot easily.

• Good first rep for Landon Dickerson against Milton Williams, who came back later with a nice move to rip past Kelly a little later on.

• Like Johnson and Graham, we’ve seen a lot of Josh Sweat vs. Jordan Mailata over the years. They competed to a draw on today’s rep.

• Highlight play from second-year edge rusher Kyron Johnson, who bowled over Okorafor, who hasn’t looked good in these drills. But it was a big-time power move for a smaller rusher, who isn’t known for power. The Eagles played Johnson a bit at off-ball linebacker in the spring but he’s back on the edge in camp and has made some plays. Johnson had a quick move around the edge on the other side later in 1-on-1s. He lost his footing a tad but he had Okorafor beaten badly.

• Jalen Carter hasn’t looked as dominant in these 1-on-1s as you might expect, but he did have a very good power move vs. Toth today. I’d bet on Carter having some flash plays in these drills soon.

• Rookie Moro Ojomo had a sneaky move to slip through Cameron Tom. Ojomo is beginning to stand out a bit more. Ojomo later had another strong move through Sua Opeta.

• In the last practice, Derek Barnett victimized tackle Roderick Johnson with a deadly spin move. But Fred Johnson saw the spin on Thursday and was ready for it. Shut it down.

• In addition to the rep where Smith dipped under Steen at left tackle, Steen had another rough rep. While Steen was working at guard, Marlon Tuipulotu beat him soundly. After this rep, Steen looked a little defeated. He then got coached up by OL coach Jeff Stoutland and when Stout left him alone, Dickerson stepped in to offer up some coaching too.

• Haason Reddick got just one rep in 1-on-1s and he’s still very, very good. He bent around Jack Driscoll at right tackle. Driscoll barely touched him. He stood no chance.

6. Sweat is very quietly putting together an excellent training camp. Today, he batted down a pass from Marcus Mariota and nearly picked him off. It was funny because as the ball was in the air, Dennis Kelly almost tried to snatch the ball out of the air but then wisely let it drop. We have seen Sweat’s athleticism on display a bunch this camp. While Tyree Jackson caught a pass on him today, Sweat looks incredibly smooth dropping into coverage for a guy who is 6-5, 265 pounds.

7. In back-to-back practices, a third-string quarterback has thrown a pass that could get receiver Charleston Rambo hurt. This time, it was Ian Book throwing the hospital ball to Rambo. Mekhi Garner didn’t lay a big him on Rambo this time like he did on Tuesday but the pass fell incomplete.

8. Patrick Johnson got some first-team reps on Thursday and made the most of his chances, picking up a "sack” on Jalen Hurts, who took off downfield anyway. Johnson is probably the sixth edge rusher on the team behind Reddick, Graham, Sweat, Smith and Barnett so there might not be a roster spot for him. But he’s doing all he can.

9. A couple of tough coverage plays from linebackers today. Morrow played safety in college but his coverage skills have been suspect in camp. Dallas Goedert is obviously a tough matchup but Morrow wasn’t even close to him in a team period.

And then a bit later, D’Andre Swift separated from Davion Taylor — another LB who should theoretically be good in coverage — on a wheel route. The pass fell incomplete but Swift had a step on Taylor, who failed to even turn his head around.

10. When the first-team offense was facing the second-team defense, A.J. Brown was lined up against Greedy Williams, who committed one of the more obvious DPIs you’ll see in camp. Don’t even think he argued. But at least he didn’t let Brown catch a pass on him.

Stupid Observation of the Day: As I watched the Eagles go through stretch today, Jason Kelce stood out. He had his jersey rolled up with his belly exposed for everyone in attendance. And then it hit me: If I told someone who didn’t know anything about football to pick out the greatest player on the field, they would probably name a lot of numbers before they got to 62. That’s part of the beauty of football.


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