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Eagles Practice Notes: Jalen Mills steps up and steals the show

Here’s what I saw.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles began their first day of mandatory minicamp practice on Tuesday. The session was open to media and I was there to watch it. Remember that these are still non-contact drills at this point. Players aren't allowed to wear pads yet. There's only so much to be gleaned from players running around in shorts, so take these observations for what they're worth. Here are my practice notes.

• Attendance updates: Jason Peters, Donnie Jones, and Marcus Smith were all at practice on Tuesday after skipping voluntary OTA sessions. Eagles rookies Sidney Jones, who watched from the sideline, and Elijah Qualls were allowed at practice for the first time this offseason due to the NCAA’s graduation rules. Nick Foles missed practice yet again due to the expected birth of his child. Ryan Mathews, who is expected to be released any time now, hasn’t been at practice all offseason.

• Injury updates: Jordan Matthews (knee tendinitis) is still not practicing. He hasn’t practiced since May 23 due to “precautionary” reasons. Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) returned to practice as a full participant. Halapoulivaati Vaitai practiced after getting banged up late last week. Ron Brooks and Joe Walker still aren’t doing team drills but they’re getting some individual work in.

• The Eagles began practice a lot earlier than expected today. Start time was scheduled for 12:50 PM but a power outage at the NovaCare Complex forced the team to move it up to 9:00 AM. The Eagles are holding their meetings and film reviews at Lincoln Financial Field until the power issue at their headquarters is resolved.

• Really strong practice from Jalen Mills. The second-year cornerback had an impressive pick-six on a throw from Matt McGloin. Mills did a great job of jumping the route at the perfect moment and taking the ball to the house. Prior to the play, Mills had said “It’s time for me to go that way!” while pointing at the end zone. The Green Goblin called his shot and delivered. Boss. In addition to his pick, Mills blitzed Carson Wentz on a few reps and got to the quarterback in time for the “sack.”

Mills is far from a flawless player; he’s gotten beat a few times this spring. But he’s also capable of making big plays. Hard not to appreciate the confidence and energy he plays with.

• Donnel Pumphrey spent a lot of time with the Eagles first team offense today. Most of his work seemed to come as a receiver. The Eagles were using him out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield at times. Philadelphia has been practicing some two running back formations with Darren Sproles and Pumphrey both on the field. The takeaway here is it seems like the Eagles are going to be creative in getting the ball to Pumphrey.

• Carson Wentz didn’t look bad. He overthrew a few passes that were thrown to targets along the sideline (including the diminutive Pumphrey), but outside of that there weren’t any glaring mistakes. He was mostly accurate when throwing over the middle of the field. Wentz connected with both Marcus Johnson and Bryce Treggs on deep bombs. Treggs did a really nice job of tracking the ball in the air and coming up with the contested catch over Jaylen Watkins. Wentz continues to draw defenders offside with his hard count.

• You can tell Wentz likes throwing to Alshon Jeffery. He’s targeted the Eagles’ new No. 1 wide receiver quite often. Jeffery has done a great job of consistently getting open. He’s been a very reliable target for Wentz, especially when all the quarterback’s other options are covered. That can’t be understated. Last year Wentz would scramble and no one would help him out by getting open. Jeffery knows how to be available for his quarterback.

• Another area where Jeffery can help Wentz out is when it comes to the quarterback’s accuracy. On a pass that Wentz threw high towards the sideline, Jeffery was able to leap up and make the play. Quarterback coach John DeFilippo recently talked about how Jeffery’s large catch radius will be a great benefit for Wentz.

• Watching Jordan Hicks get the defense organized and set up prior to the snap is fun. He’s very vocal and super animated. It’s even more fun to watch him and Wentz trying to counter each other’s reads and barking out commands to their own units. Two cerebral players.

• Very good practice for backup safety Terrence Brooks. He recorded three pass breakups. The first one came on a pass thrown to Treggs over the middle of the field. Brooks contested the wide receiver and batted the ball down. The second one was on a deep pass that probably should/could have been a pick, but at least he didn’t allow it to be completed. Brooks recorded his third PBU on a pass attempt to Burton over the middle. Overall, Brooks has had a nice spring. I’d put him ahead of Watkins in the backup safety battle. Brooks could have a nice chance to earn some playing time as the third safety behind obvious starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.

Isaac Seumalo and Allen Barbre continue to split first team reps at left guard.

Patrick Robinson was back at first team cornerback in Philadelphia’s base defense. Rasul Douglas had gotten some looks there last week, but now Douglas is back to only playing the outside in first team nickel defense.

Timmy Jernigan has had a strong spring. The big man regularly gets pressure.

Brandon Graham recorded a sack on Big V. Kind of a big mismatch there.

• The Eagles have occasionally been lining up Fletcher Cox at defensive end. Defensive line coach Chris Wilson recently talked about how the Eagles are looking to move Cox around more.

In order to help free up Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox from double teams this upcoming season, defensive line coach Chris Wilson said that the Eagles could move him from his left defensive tackle spot to try and create some better matchups.

"One of the big things we're going to try and address with him is him attacking on the perimeter at times, moving him around to not only use his size but some of the speed and quickness he possesses on the edge and different places," Wilson said.

• The Eagles had Derek Barnett drop into coverage on one play. He was matched up with Sproles and, well, let’s just say it didn’t end up so well for the rookie defensive end. Barnett got called offside on rep today.

• A few NFL refs were at today’s practice. Barnett got flagged at one point for lining up offside.

• Barnett was wearing long sleeves and sweatpants in 93 degree heat. Chris Long was wearing a hoodie. Just writing about this makes me feel hot.

• Qualls stood out to me on one play where he immediately beat his blocker to force some pressure on McGloin.

Aaron Grymes came up with pass breakup on an out route meant for Burton. Feels like Grymes makes at least one good play like that in every practice.

Marcus Smith made his presence felt upon returning to practice. While running with the third team, Smith got pressure on the passer.

• Shelton Gibson continues to drop passes in individual drills. To be clear, there’s no one defending him on these plays. Not great. The good news is Gibson didn’t drop any passes in team drills, so at least there’s that.

• Gibson, Johnson, and Greg Ward all stayed on the field after practice to work on the JUGS machines. Gibson definitely needs the extra work.

• Two undrafted rookie free agents attended Eagles practice on a tryout basis: Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans and Villanova linebacker Austin Calitro. The Eagles currently have a full roster but that’ll change when Mathews finally gets cut.

• Check out video from Eagles practice via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page (click here or watch below)


Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Up next: The Eagles practice again tomorrow starting at 12:50 PM ET. Doug Pederson is scheduled to talk before practice at 10:45 AM ET.

Remaining offseason workout schedule

Mandatory Minicamp: June 14-15.

BGN Coverage: The following practices are open to the media: June 14-15.

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