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Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes: Defense bounces back

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Here’s what we learned today.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Today marked the ninth day of 2017 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. No pads on today. Let’s get right to my notes.

PRACTICE NOTES

• Injury updates: Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) didn’t practice once again. BGN Radio’s John Barchard reported he’s unlikely to play in Philadelphia’s preseason game next week. LeGarrette Blount was excused from practice due to personal reasons for the second day in a row. Nick Foles (elbow), Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), Elijah Qualls (groin), Alex McCalister (hamstring), and Josh Andrews (hand) all missed practice due to injury. Torrey Smith (back) returned to practice after sitting out on Tuesday.

• The Eagles did a lot of red zone work today. After struggling on Tuesday, the Eagles’ defense bounced back on Wednesday morning.

• Carson Wentz was up and down in practice. There was more good than bad, but the bad was bad.

Wentz looked REALLY sharp in his first red zone series. The second-year quarterback connected with Darren Sproles on the wheel route. Then he targeted Trey Burton in the end zone. The ball was thrown to where the tight end could go up and make the play. Patrick Robinson got beat in coverage (surprise).

Wentz’s second red zone series wasn’t good. The offense got completely shut out of the end zone. Wentz threw a pass to Burton that Jalen Mills broke up. The corner had a chance to intercept the ball. Wentz had a target for Zach Ertz knocked down by C.J. Smith. Another pass was deflected by Malcolm Jenkins. In fairness to Wentz, the Eagles were lacking two of their best red zone weapons: Jeffery and Blount. The defense also deserves credit for stepping up. Doug Pederson praised Jim Schwartz’s unit after a series of consecutive stops: “Great job D!”

Wentz bounced back on his third red zone series. He fit a ball to a tightly coverd Jordan Matthews in the back of the end zone. Unfortunately JMatt couldn’t hold on as Robinson stripped the ball out. Wentz came back and hit Matthews for a score a few plays later. The two practiced their standard touchdown celebration routine: a fake chest bump that turns into a handshake.

Wentz threw a number of good balls during one-on-one red zone drills. One pass to Nelson Agholor really stood out.

The Eagles didn’t do a lot of non-red zone work but Wentz took a deep shot when he had a chance. His throw to Mack Hollins was right on the money. The rookie receiver couldn’t hold on, though, with Smith instantly breaking up the pass. Good throw but an even better play by the defender.

• I mentioned earlier how the Eagles’ red zone defense played well. That reminded me that I recently read on Football Outsiders that Philadelphia had the No. 1 ranked red zone defense in terms of DVOA last year. That made look back at how Schwartz’s defenses have fared in the red zone over his career.

The results are obviously mixed, but eight out of his 13 defenses since 2003 have finished average or better. He’s had most of his success in the past eight years (average rank of 10th best). That could be random or it could indicate he’s improved with more knowledge and experience.

• Burton had a number of good receptions today.

Agholor continues to look a lot better than he did last year. He won a number of one-on-one matchups due to crisp route-running and good hands.

Aaron Grymes came away with an interception in one-on-one against Agholor. He was able to get in front of the wide receiver not unlike Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl a few years back. Impressive play by Grymes.

• Torrey Smith got illegally held by defenders during a few reps in one-on-ones but made some tough catches anyway. He did have one drop.

Bryce Treggs dropped at least two passes. Marcus Johnson had one.

• Hollins made a tough catch with Mills draped all over him. Looked like it might have been a penalty in a game. Mills got frustrated and punched the goal post.

• JMatt struggled to create separation in red zone drills. He did make a nice one-handed catch at one point, though.

• To no surprise, Robinson got beat like a drum in one-on-ones.

• Meanwhile, Rasul Douglas logged a few pass breakups.

Billy Brown made a sweet over the shoulder catch during a red zone drill. He’s really smooth for a big guy. With Denham struggling, Brown’s stock should be going up.

• Timothy Jernigan continues to look explosive. He fired into the backfield to stop Sproles for a loss.

• Another day, another practice where Terrence Brooks makes a big play. The backup safety caught a pick that bounced off of Anthony Denham’s hands in the red zone. Brooks just makes plays. The Eagles need to find a way to get him playing time this season.

• Daily Shelton Gibson update: He did drop at least one pass. He bobbled a few others. It’s hard to have confidence in his hands.

Jason Peters high fived and bumped helmets with everyone in the huddle before group install drills. JP’s value as a leader on this team is underrated.

• The Eagles ran a look with Dillon Gordon at fullback.

Corey Clement really struggled running through the rope ladder during individual drills. He kept tripping and falling while Duce Staley made him start over every time. Eventually he got it.

• Mills saw Caleb Sturgis practicing warm up field goals and convinced him to let him take one. Mills nailed the attempt from 20 yards out.

• There was a lot of country music on the practice playlist today. I’m going to assume Wentz had a role in this.

• I took this picture shortly after Eagles practice. Any guesses as to what it means?

Here’s my guess:

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

COMING TO YOU LIVE FROM EAGLES TRAINING CAMP

Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

• Check out Jim Schwartz’s post-practice press conference (click here or watch below).

Eagles DC Jim Schwartz speaking after practice!

Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Up next: The Eagles are right back at it with another training camp practice starting at 8:15 AM tomorrow. Stay tuned here to Bleeding Green Nation.