Today marked the 17th day of 2017 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. Let’s get right to my notes.
• Injury update: There’s been some very passive-aggressive criticism for Alshon Jeffery because he hasn’t been a full participant in practice. Well, guess what? He did a lot of work today, including 11 on 11 team drills. He was also one of the last players out on the field (scroll down for a picture). Nick Foles returned to practice after dealing with a sore elbow for the last two weeks. He wasn’t a full participant and he said he won’t play on Thursday night. Brandon Brooks (ankle) returned but was limited so Chance Warmack lined up at first team right guard. Wendell Smallwood (hamstring) also returned to practice but I didn’t notice him in team drills. Players still out: Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), Ron Brooks (hamstring), Josh Andrews (hand), Anthony Denham (calf), Paul Turner (shoulder), and Bryce Treggs (calf).
• Things got heated between Nelson Agholor and Malcolm Jenkins during a one-on-one session today. Jenkins typically used to go up against Jordan Matthews. The two players would have good battles. Today, Agholor easily got the best of Jenkins on two reps. He ran the same route both times and easily shook Jenkins off him. After the first rep, Jenkins and Agholor started chirping at each other. Then it got a little chippy on the second rep. The two players then faced each other a third time. It looked like Agholor might beat him again on a quick slant, but Jenkins got physical with Agholor and broke up the pass. Then Jenkins stared him down after the play. I’d say it’s a good thing to see Jenkins pushing Agholor like this. There’s pressure on Agholor to step up with JMatt gone. It’s time for him to step up.
• Nelly had several nice grabs in practice today. Nothing especially awesome but he showed consistency, which is key. The way he plucks the ball out of the air as opposed to body-catching is a nice thing to see. Agholor earns non-sarcastic applause almost every time he makes a catch in practice, even if it’s just during group install. Good gesture by Eagles fans to offer him encouragement.
• Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills were the first team corners on the outside once again. Patrick Robinson is the first team nickel CB.
• Darby looks pretty good. He picked off Carson Wentz during one-on-ones. The quarterback tried to fit a pass in to Mack Hollins but Darby made the play. Darby almost had another pick during a team drill when Torrey Smith ran a slant and he got good position to jump in front of the receiver. He couldn’t come up with the interception, which is an issue for Darby (bad hands), but it was still a nice play. I didn’t notice Darby get beat at all.
• The whole secondary suddenly looks a lot better with Darby in and Robinson not playing the outside. It’s not just Darby. Jalen Mills has stepped up his game and had several pass breakups today. Rasul Douglas is showing promise. C.J. Smith isn’t looking bad. Robinson isn’t looking as much of a liability in the slot. And so on. The increased competition at corner seems to be bringing out the best in everyone.
• Conversely, the offense hasn’t been looking so sharp. I know some people might want to attribute that to JMatt being gone but it wasn’t just the starting offense that struggled. The backups didn’t look so hot as well. After practice, the Eagles offense ran three sets of sprints due to having three false starts in practice. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich ran the sprints with the offense.
• None of the quarterbacks looked great today. Everyone struggled with accuracy, including Carson Wentz. The team’s starting quarterback sailed some of his passes thrown towards the sideline and overthrew some deep attempts to Torrey Smith. Wentz did have two good fade passes: one to a leaping Trey Burton, who beat Rodney McLeod. Jeffery also made an easy play look difficult before making it look easy again by bobbling Wentz’s throw and then managing to tap his toes to make sure he was in.
• Wentz connected with Zach Ertz quite a bit in the end zone. The fifth-year tight end caught everything thrown his way. Ertz should really benefit from increased targets with JMatt gone.
• Mills chose to go with a “chest pound” as opposed to his “finger wag” after knocking down a pass intended for Marcus Johnson. New celebration?
• Shelton Gibson has definitely been practicing better recently. He ran a really nice route to shake Douglas off him in one-on-ones. Later, he made a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone and held on as he went to the ground. Gibson dropped a few passes in the first preseason game, so it’s hard to say he’s completely turned the corner. I also noticed him bobble the ball a few times in individual drills today. But at least the rookie is making some progress.
• Nigel Bradham did a nice job of covering Burton one-on-one. People don’t think of Bradham as a coverage linebacker but he’s really not bad in that regard.
• Joe Walker got beat in coverage by Adam Zaruba. I’m projecting Walker to make the team, but I can’t say he’s a lock. He doesn’t seem like he’s 100% the player he was before his ACL injury last year.
• Foles made a nice throw where he threaded two defenders and got the ball to Mack Hollins in the back of the end zone. Unfortunately, the rookie receiver dropped it.
• Marcus Johnson made a few nice catches, including a leaping effort in one-on-ones. He also had a pass thrown his way get knocked down by Douglas.
• Shades of Andy Reid: Wentz threw a shovel pass to Burton for a touchdown during group install.
• The Eagles ran a tempo play in the red zone similar to the one they did in the first Cowboys game last year. That play caught Dallas off-guard and led to an easy touchdown. It looked like the offense might catch Philadelphia’s defense napping today but Jim Schwartz’s unit scrambled together in time to hold them off.
• Newly signed wide receiver Rashard Davis spent time returning punts during special teams drills. He was really good at those last year. Davis made a nice over-the-shoulder catch in the red zone.
• Mike Mayock was at practice today. In unrelated news, it’s also his birthday. Happy birthday, Mike Mayock.
• Alshon took a break from working on his route-running with Agholor to spend some time with one of his teammate’s kids after practice.
Alshon Jeffery is out here after practice working on his route running. Also spending time with a teammate's kid. pic.twitter.com/qPzKpmFZU8— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 14, 2017
• Check out video of Eagles pracitce via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page (click here or watch below).
EAGLES TRAINING CAMP!Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Monday, August 14, 2017
• Check out video of Ronald Darby talking after Sunday’s practice via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page (click here or watch below).
Newest #Eagles CB Ronald Darby chats about playing LCB & RCB, going up against Alshon in practice & his departure from BuffaloPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Sunday, August 13, 2017
• Check out video of Frank Reich’s press conference via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page (click here or watch below).
EAGLES OC Frank Reich talking for first time since Jordan Matthews tradePosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Monday, August 14, 2017
Up next: The Eagles practice again tomorrow starting at 9:05 AM. It’s a 10-10-10 session. Stay tuned to BGN for more coverage.