Saturday was the sixth day of 2016 Eagles training camp practice. It was also the first day the Birds put the pads in. Let's dive right in to my observations from today's session.
• Injury update: Quite a few players left practice early today. Those names include: CB Nolan Carroll (cramps), WR Rueben Randle (cramps), and WR Marcus Johnson (quad). CB Ron Brooks (cramps) went off the field on a cart. WR Chris Givens had to stand off for a while to the side during one team drill after Jalen Mills got physical with during a rep. It looked like he was hurting somewhere on his upper body before returning to practice. WR T.J. Graham went to the practice tent at one point. RB Ryan Mathews and OG Brandon Brooks are still out with day-to-day injuries.
• Expect a lot of notes today because it was a long practice. Nearly three hours in the hot sun and humidity.
• QUARTERBACK TALK
In general, second day in a row where the passers weren't all that impressive.
Sam Bradford dealt with a ton of drops. It's almost like it was 2015 out there all over again. Chris Givens, Trey Burton, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz, Darren Sproles, Brent Celek, Xavier Rush, and Josh Huff all dropped throws from Bradford. It's hard not to think he has something to do with these drops the way they've followed him throughout his career. At least one of the drops today was caused by him throwing a bullet on a very short pass to Huff.
Bradford had Nelson Agholor open deep down the field on one play but overthrew him. He later hit Agholor, who beat his coverage, with a nice 25 yard pass along the right sideline.
Chase Daniel didn't do much to stand out either way. He was hampered by the second team defensive line having success against the second team offensive line. Daniel did have a nice run where he fooled the defense on a QB keeper. Second day in a row he did that. He's quick. Daniel also had a nice deep throw to Agholor, who had beaten Eric Rowe deep. It seemed like the second-year receiver pushed off, though. Daniel struggled with accuracy at other times during practice.
Carson Wentz was quick to earn applause from the Eagles season ticket holders in attendance at today's practice. They know who the future is all about. The rookie made a good deep throw to Paul Turner in a drill with receivers and defensive backs going against each other one-on-one. Later, Wentz hit Trey Burton over the middle of the field with an anticipation throw.
Wentz's best pass of the day was a 50-yard bomb to Huff, who went full extension to make the catch. Beauty. Wentz's worst pass was when he tried hitting Givens over the middle in double coverage but the ball was underthrown. Denzel Rice knocked it down.
• Malcolm Jenkins picked off two passes early in WR vs. DB drills. One of the picks was a poorly thrown ball from McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
• Jordan Matthews still runs out every single catch he makes to the end zone. No matter how far away he is. He'll continue to do this for the rest of his life. Matthews had a real nice leaping catch over the shoulder with Joe Walker trailing him and Jenkins over the top in coverage.
• Rodney McLeod popped Huff after the receiver made a short catch over the middle. McLeod is gonna light some people up this year.
• Eric Rowe trailed Xavier Rush one-on-one and it looked like Bradford was going to connect with the rookie for a touchdown. But then Rowe got his hand on the ball at the last moment to break up the play. Rowe got some first team reps later in practice when Carroll left early due to injury.
• Rueben Randle easily made the best catch in practice. Words don't really do it justice, but I'll try anyway. Bradford threw a little high and little behind him as he was running across the field. Randle stuck his right hand in the air and snagged the ball while continuing to run without slowing down after he caught it. Randle had a few more nice grabs in practice before leaving early.
• Pretty rough day for Huff. He had at least three or four drops. Huff didn't have a good spring (though the Eagles think otherwise), so this isn't an encouraging sign. One of the drops was a bobbled screen play. His error cost him his blocking out in front of him.
• It's not the first time I'm saying it, but the Eagles really need to get Burton on the field more often. He had a few nice catches today. The Chiefs ran a lot of three tight end sets, and offensive coordinator Frank Reich said he loves Burton, so maybe there's hope for him.
• Good day for the Eagles' pass rushers. Brandon Graham (second team) and Vinny Curry (first team) got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Both players would have had sacks if that was allowed in this environment. Even Marcus Smith got in on the action. He beat second team left tackle Matt Tobin to get pressure on a few occasions. How about that?
• Graham was especially beastly in OL vs. DL one-on-one drills. 2015 practice squad member Malcolm Bunche did a nice job of holding up against Smith and Alex McCalister before getting driven back by Graham. It was like Bunche, who is listed at 320, was as light as air. Graham also schooled rookie tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai really badly.
Third round rookie Isaac Seumalo did a nice job of holding up against Beau Allen. He drew a penalty on Allen, who illegally used his hands in Seumalo's face. Seumalo struggled a little more with Taylor Hart.
• Blake Countess broke up a short Wentz. On the next play, he put a pop on Chris Pantale who caught a pass over the middle. The rookie safety has stood out a few times this summer.
Future Hall of Famer Jalen Mills got chewed out by DB coach Cory Undlin at one point after failing to get up quickly off the ground.
• Eagles linebacker Deontae Skinner is a dark horse candidate at the linebacker position. The 25-year-old defender, who has spent time with the Patriots, gobbled up Wendell Smallwood in the backfield on one play.
• Rookie UDFA linebacker Myke Tavarres had a pass breakup on a throw intended for TE M.J. MacFarland. Tavarres rushed the passer a lot in college so he needs to prove he can play in coverage.
• Saw a fan at practice wearing a Donovan McNabb practice jersey (red colored Eagles jersey). Interesting purchase.
• After practice, Eagles rookies were seen carrying pads and helmets of the veterans. Not an uncommon practice in the NFL, but I don't remember ever seeing that go on with Chip Kelly in town.
Eagles vets having rookie players carry their helmets/pads. Here’s Alex McCalister helping out Curry and Logan. pic.twitter.com/pqPm0GKSST— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 30, 2016
Wentz carrying other Eagles QB jerseys and pads. He may be the second overall pick, but he's still a rookie. pic.twitter.com/hOfQUYXyWN— Matt Mullin (@matt_mullin) July 30, 2016
• Rookie safety Blake Countess has been wearing a camera on his helmet during practice for most of the week. Today it was backup Chase Daniel who was on camera duty.
• RITA'S WATER ICE UPDATE. Four flavors of choice today: Swedish fish, mango, blueberry, and cherry lemonade. My game plan was to go for the mango until I saw the swedish fish. Suffice to say, I made a great choice. No green apple is a little disappointing, though.
• Watch video of Eagles practice below. Like on the official Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page to watch these videos live as I'm streaming them.
• Newest addition to the Eagles' scouting staff, Brian Dawkins, spoke after practice. Separate post coming on that later. For now, enjoy the return of the GOAT.
Up next: The Eagles practice again tomorrow morning at Lincoln Financial Field. It's the first of two open practices set to be held at the Linc this summer. Practice starts at 10:00 AM ET. No tickets necessary - just show up. There's a chance it might get canceled due to rain, so keep an eye out for that. Stay tuned for more coverage until then.
PSA: I'll be talking Eagles on 94WIP at 4:00 PM ET with Joe Giglio. Click here to listen.
UPDATE: Here's the interview, thanks to BGN Radio's John Barchard.