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Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes: Philadelphia's defense dominates as tackling begins

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Here's what we learned from today's Eagles practice.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday was the ninth day of 2016 Eagles training camp practice. There's a lot to talk about, so let's get right to my observations from today's session.

PRACTICE NOTES

• Injury update: OG Brandon Brooks, RB Ryan Mathews, and WR Marcus Johnson are all still out. RB Wendell Smallwood was also missing from practice today. Doug Pederson said Smallwood has a quad strain and will miss a few days.

• The pads were back on for today's practice and things got physical. The Eagles had a few "live" periods that featured big hits and tackling to the ground. Welcome back, football!

• Jason Kelce led the team huddle after warmups. He yelled: "We're going live, mother********s!"

DEFENSE!

The Eagles defense came to life today as live tackling began. The defensive line was especially dominant when the Eagles tried to run the ball near the goal line. Bennie Logan, Mike Martin, and Marcus Smith (!) all made plays where they stuffed the runner in the backfield. Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, and Vinny Curry were in on the action too. They were super fired up.

QUARTERBACKS

Sam Bradford was up and down. We'll start with the Goodford. Bradford hit Kenjon Barner, who beat Deontae Skinner on the wheel route, for a would-be touchdown deep down the right sideline. Bradford had another nice throw to Nelson Agholor on an out route. During red zone drills, Bradford rolled left and connected with an open Zach Ertz in the back of the end zone.

Now for the Badford. Sammy Sleeves almost had his first pass of the day picked off by Leodis McKelvin. It looked like the corner could have easily jumped Josh Huff's curl route, but he didn't locate the ball in time and the receiver wrestled the ball away. Bradford threw wide of Jordan Matthews at one point, who could only get one hand on the ball. Bradford got picked off by Aaron Grymes while targeting Paul Turner deep down the field in WR versus DB one-on-one drills. Undrafted cornerback C.J. Smith broke up one of Bradford's short attempts after the rest of the coverage down the field wasn't allowing anyone to get open. Jordan Hicks also broke up a few short Bradford passes intended for Sproles. Hicks look good, by the way.

Lastly, the Vickford. The Eagles' starting quarterback actually took off running on one play. Don't see that too often. He definitely wasn't doing that too much last year. It's a reminder that he's much healthier now.

Chase Daniel threw a couple picks today. The first one happened when a pass was tipped (by Malcolm Jenkins?) and Rodney McLeod made the diving grab to get the ball. McLeod has had quite a few interceptions during camp. Daniel tends to have more tipped passes than the other Eagles quarterbacks. Daniel is listed at 6-0 on the Eagles' roster, but I think that might be generous. Daniel was intercepted again but it wasn't his fault this time. He threw a catchable pass that Huff tipped into the air. A nearby Najee Goode ended up with the ball. Daniel might have threw a third interception if undrafted rookie David Watford didn't bat a ball down that was heading towards a defender.

Daniel threw a real nice touch pass to Trey Burton, who once again looked great in practice, in the back corner of the end zone. He just managed to keep both feet in for the touchdown. Cayleb Jones made the catch of the day on a deep Daniel throw into the end zone. The rookie receiver made a diving, one-handed grab with Denzel Rice tightly covering him. Very impressive.

Carson Wentz continues to have some issues with overthrowing his targets, especially when he's aiming passes toward the sideline. The throws start to sail too high. Wentz almost got picked off by Myke Tavarres at one point. The rookie linebacker couldn't hold on, though, and the tipped ball ended up in the hands of M.J. MacFarland. Fortunate moment for Wentz. A diving Chris Maragos broke up a Wentz pass intended for Jordan Matthews in the end zone.

Wentz had a few good moments. He threw a nice back shoulder throw to Watford. He also rocketed a pass into Chris Givens despite good coverage. Wentz's best throw was when he looked off the safety and pump faked before lobbing a deep ball to Burton. The tight end was wide open after Rice bit on the fake.

• Jordan Matthews had a really good practice. He caught everything thrown his way. Made some tough grabs.

• UDFA cornerback C.J. Smith continues to have an active camp. He broke up passes from Bradford and Wentz.

• Huff was having a good day before he botched that Daniel pass I wrote about earlier. He also dropped a kick return.

• Rodney McLeod laid the wood on Zach Ertz after the tight end made a catch over the middle of the field. Between the interceptions and his hits, McLeod sure looks like the real deal.

• I already mentioned it during the quarterback section above, but Burton had quite a day. He even trucked Ron Brooks at one point.

• Rueben Randle made a catch during one-on-one despite having McKelvin draped all over him. McKelvin did his best to pry the ball loose, but Randle still held on. I don't think I've seen Roob drop a pass all camp. He's been pretty solid.

• Eric Rowe got beat a few times, but he also got his a few times. On numerous plays, the second year cornerback showed he wasn't afraid to be physical. He tackled Randle to the ground and also put some hits on Agholor and T.J. Graham.

• The Eagles rotated their defensive ends more than usual. Graham was working with the first team while Connor Barwin lined up with the second team. Curry also took some second team snaps.

• Offensive guard Dillon Gordon lined up at fullback with the second team offense near the goal line. Gordon played tight end at LSU.

• UDFA running back Cedric O'Neal had an unforced fumble. Not good.

• 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.

Up next: The Eagles practice again tomorrow starting at 8:05 AM ET. Stay tuned for more coverage until then.