The Philadelphia Eagles held their first day of 2018 mandatory minicamp practice on Tuesday. The session was open to media and I was there. 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.
• Carson Wentz update: Wentz continues to look pretty good. The Eagles have a new quarterback drill where Press Taylor throws tennis balls at the feet of the players and they have to dodge them as if they’re pass rushers. Wentz showed no signs of being hampered during this activity. Later in practice, Wentz participated in some 7-on-7 action. He got picked off by Rodney McLeod in the red zone at one point. Bad read, and he knew it, putting his hands on his helmet in frustration with himself. It didn’t take Ginger Jesus long to bounce back. He fired a throw just past the outstretched finger tips of Ronald Darby and into the arms of a diving Nelson Agholor in the end zone for a touchdown. It was a bullet. Great throw and great catch. When Wentz wasn’t participating in a drill, he was off sprinting on another field or having a catch with Alshon Jeffery.
• Attendance updates: Perfect attendance, no absences. Both Michael Bennett and Darren Sproles showed up after skipping out on voluntary OTAs.
• Injury update: I wrote an entire post on injury updates, so CLICK HERE to read that.
• Michael Bennett update: Prior to practice, Doug Pederson said the veteran defensive end will be running with the first team. He was running second team opposite of Steven Means today, however. Chris Long and Derek Barnett were the first team ends.
• Ronald Darby turned in a strong day of practice. The 24-year-old corner notched several pass deflections, including two leaping breakups on deep throws by Nick Foles. The only real time I saw him get beat today is when he got matched up on Zach Ertz. He contested the throw as much as he could but Ertz was just too big. Outside of that, Darby had an impressive day.
• Staying in the secondary, Tre Sullivan stood out to me with a near pick-six by jumping a slant route. Then he logged a leaping pass breakup on a Sudfeld pass meant for Goedert, who was running a corner route. Maybe the Eagles don’t even need to bring Corey Graham back? If they do, Sullivan should at least be the fourth safety. He’s showing the ability to both cover and hit.
• Markus Wheaton took some first team wide receiver reps. That’s new. Wheaton’s quietly had a solid spring. He’s in the mix for that fifth or sixth receiver spot.
• Another solid practice for Nate Sudfeld. He opened 11-on-11 with a number of nice throws. One his best completions of the day was when he dropped a pass right in the bucket to Dallas Goedert 30 yards down the field for a touchdown. Sudfeld’s mobility has also stood out in spring practices. Not so much taking off down field as his ability to dodge ‘pressure’ and move around behind the line of scrimmage. Prior to practice, Pederson said Nasty Nate is having a “tremendous off-season right now, a tremendous spring.”
• Nick Foles lofted a real nice throw to Nelson Agholor, who found a soft spot in the defense for a big gain. Foles hit Agholor on another deep shot where Nigel Bradham was covering the receiver. Bradham did his best but that’s clearly a mismatch. In case you were wondering, Agholor’s emergence last season was not a fluke. He still looks very legit. Foles’ worst throw of the day came when he threw an off-target pass to a double-covered Wallace.
• De’Vante Bausby continues to take first team nickel corner reps. He’s received a lot of work there this spring, especially with Sidney Jones missing time.
• Avonte Maddox looked like the rookie he is today. The fourth-round pick got lost in coverage on several occasions, leaving his man wide open as a result. Maddox has a chance to earn playing time at nickel but he’s sure not the front-runner right now.
• Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry continue to rotate with the first team defense. Sometimes they’re both out on the field together. Grugier-Hill has stood out to me this spring with his coverage ability, picking up from what I saw in training camp last year. Today he sniffed out a screen play and got to the running back before it ever had a chance. Dave Spadaro recently wrote on BGN that Kamu is the current leader for the WILL job. We’ll see how he holds up when the pads go on in training camp.
• Joe Callahan threaded the needle between two defenders with a bullet to Bryce Treggs for a touchdown during red zone drills. I swear someone on the Eagles coaching staff (Mike Groh?) yelled out “SMOKIN’ JOE!” in excitement. I’ve seen enough to believe that Callahan might be better than Matt McGloin was last year, which should make preseason football somewhat more watchable.
• I feel like Donnel Pumphrey looked a little more shift than I’m used to seeing. I said that once earlier this offseason. I’m still very skeptical, but I’m cautiously encouraged.
• Josh Sweat did a nice job of generating pressure on Callahan. It helped that he was facing turnstile Jordan Mailata. Same thing for Joe Ostman, who used a nice move to beat Mailata and generate pressure from the inside.
• It’s pretty incredible how much progress Corey Clement has made since last year. He just looks so much more natural catching the ball.
• Jason Kelce accidentally ran over Darby on a screen. Whoops. The center helped him of the ground after the play.
• Mike Wallace was very frustrated with himself for dropping a pass during QB-WR drills. He bounced back by running a nice route and drawing praise from his teammates/coaches. I’ve said this before, but Wallace isn’t merely just a deep threat. He’s capable of contributing in the intermediate passing game.
• Nelson Agholor muffed a punt by just dropping it at one point. Mack Hollins ran up to him and yelled “THAT’S SOME USC SHIT!” Hollins’ trash talk bit him in the butt when he committed a real bad drop during team drills. The ball flew out of his arms as he went to turn up field. Pretty close to being a real careless fumble. C’mon, Mack.
• Sproles didn’t return punts himself but he was giving the other guys some pointers. Jason Peters does the same thing with the offensive line. I noticed him huddle with the offense despite the fact he wasn’t always taking reps with them. You can see the value of having those vets around in this setting.
• Undrafted free agent safety Stephen Roberts had a near-pick on a Sudfeld throw meant for Richard Rodgers. Roberts had another near-pick last week. Maybe he’s practice squad material. In other undrafted free agent safety news, Jeremy Reaves stood no chance trying to match up with Philly Goedert. Reaves had a strong first day of OTAs but I haven’t noticed a lot of good since then. He could be a player who excels in the more physical nature of training camp.
• Joshua Perkins dropped a pass. I don’t think him, Billy Brown, or Adam Zaruba is really doing all that much to threaten Richard Rodgers as the No. 3 tight end right now.
• After practice ended, a bunch of players were getting extra work on the field with each other. Offensive linemen practicing blocking, receiver and running backs working on the JUGS machine, defensive backs working on their footwork, etc. No complacency here for the Super Bowl champs.
• Watch video of Eagles practice below via the Bleeding Green Nation Facebook page (click here if you can’t see it).
LIVE FROM EAGLES MINICAMP PRACTICEPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Watch a clip of Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles speaking below (click here if you can’t see it).
SB MVP, Nick Foles tells us about new QB coach Press Taylor and what he’s been working on in the offseason #FlyEaglesFlyPosted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Remaining offseason workout schedule
Mandatory Minicamp: June 13, June 14
BGN Coverage: The following practices are open to the media: June 13-14. I’ll be at those practices. Follow me for live updates: @BrandonGowton.