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Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes: The new nickel

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Here’s what we learned on Sunday.

Credit: Trey Madara - for Bleeding Green Nation

Today marked the 13th day of 2018 Philadelphia Eagles training camp. The Eagles were back at the NovaCare Complex for their third to last practice that’s fully open to the media. Here’s what I observed.

Daily Carson Wentz update: Today marked the 10th practice in a row with Wentz not participating in 11-on-11. He did get work during 1-on-1 (wide receivers versus defensive backs) in the red zone. Wentz kicked that drill off with a beauty of a fade pass to Mike Wallace in the back left corner of the end zone. He also connected with Tim Wilson on a quick slant for touchdown. Wentz did overthrow one of his fade passes for Shelton Gibson. Later in practice, Wentz took part in 7-on-7. He made a quality throw to Richard Rodgers over the middle but it was dropped. Wentz was able to connect with Zach Ertz on a few throws during 7-on-7. During one set of 11-on-11 drills, Wentz was off to the side on another field working on running forward right after taking some drop backs. He was running full speed ahead through the PowerBlast device (typically used by the running backs) to simulate some contact.

• Injury updates: Contrary to the rumors, Dallas Goedert’s arm didn’t fall off. The rookie tight end said he expects to be back at practice in a day or two. Other Eagles players on the active roster who missed practice include: Nelson Agholor (who was wearing a hoodie under his jersey), Mack Hollins, Markus Wheaton, Corey Clement (wore a sleeve over his right leg), and Donnel Pumphrey. With Alshon Jeffery already on the PUP list, the Eagles are quite thin at receiver right now. Of course, there are still 25 days until Philadelphia’s Week 1 game. The clock is ticking for roster bubble guys like Wheaton and Pump, though.

• A new challenger has emerged in the slot cornerback competition: rookie Avonte Maddox. The Eagles’ 2018 fourth-round pick was the new nickel (TNN) with the first team on Sunday. That brings the standings to six days of Sidney Jones, five days of De’Vante Bausby, one day of Jalen Mills, and one day of Maddox. Maddox DID get some first team nickel looks on Saturday as well, but not for the entire practice like he did today. Overall, I thought Maddox had a practice. He knocked down one Nick Foles pass in 11-on-11 as he and a receiver were going out of bounds. Maddox broke up another Foles pass to Bryce Treggs in the end zone during team drills. Maddox got beat a couple times in 1-on-1 but he also had some positive moments as well. I don’t think Maddox is going to be the starter in the nickel but he built some positive momentum today.

• With Maddox taking the first team nickel reps, Sidney Jones was in the slot with the second team. He notched a diving pass breakup on a Sudfeld thrown into the end zone.

• In addition to his fade touchdown reception, Wallace made a real impressive leaping contested catch over the middle of the field. He’s had a number of standout moments in the last two practices. Good to see him stepping up, especially with Jeffery and Agholor missing time.

• Shelton Gibson had some nice moments. He would’ve had a deep touchdown if Sudfeld hadn’t overthrown him. Gibson ran a crisp comeback route to beat De’Vante Bausby along the sideline. He’s just a much different player than he was at this time last year.

• Also liked what I saw out of Bryce Treggs. The 24-year-old receiver beat Jones, Bausby, and Rasul Douglas during red zone 1-on-1 reps. During 11-on-11, Treggs beat Bausby on a corner route. Treggs’ biggest highlight came on a rep where he burned Douglas deep. Treggs had to go back to the ball since Foles underthrew it but he still made the jump ball catch for a touchdown.

• In case you haven’t realized, Douglas hasn’t been so great lately. He even got taunted by DeAndre Carter (!) at one point today. Carter ran past Douglas and yelled out “ooooh-weeee” once they were in the end zone. Translation: Carter was trying to say he had Douglas beat for a touchdown even though the ball didn’t come his way. Douglas responded by repeatedly yelling “F*** outta here!” I bring this up to illustrate how Douglas’ confidence is not shaken even though he’s not playing his best football.

• Speaking of Carter, Sudfeld made a nice throw to him along the sideline. The ball JUST got past the outstretched arm of Bausby and Carter was JUST able to tap both feet in. Liked the precision there from Studdy. As for Carter, he’s been more than just a camp body. I don’t have him making the team but he probably belongs on a practice squad somewhere if he’s still eligible.

• Another good day for Jalen Mills. Ho hum. The Green Goblin broke up a Foles throw to Treggs during 1-on-1. Mills also had another diving breakup on the first play of 11-on-11 when Foles targeted Wallace on an out route. Jim Schwartz had praise for Mills after practice: “I think one of the biggest things with him is he’s taken over such a leadership role for us”

Ronald Darby almost came up with a big pick on a Foles pass. He had to settle for a pass breakup that set up a Nigel Bradham (!) interception instead. Yes, that’s right, Bradham actually caught the ball! Later in practice, Darby redeemed himself by nabbing a pick in the end zone. He went down hard after the play and stayed down for a bit before eventually walking to the sideline. He didn’t have to leave practice.

Malcolm Jenkins had a pick on a poorly thrown deep ball by Foles. But don’t let other practice notes fool you; that interception occurred on a free play. I didn’t see who jumped offside but someone definitely did because a flag came out.

• On a day where there’s a lot of nickel corner talk, it’s only right to bring up D.J. Killings. The 23-year-old had good coverage of Greg Ward Jr. to force an incompletion in 1-on-1. Killings had another breakup on a Joe Callahan throw over the middle to Tim Wilson. Killings even “sacked” Callahan to the point where he couldn’t get a throw off before the whistle was blown. Killings could spend another year on the practice squad, assuming he doesn’t find a way on the roster or get claimed on waivers.

• I noticed Haloti Ngata taking first team defensive tackle reps today. That’s noteworthy since it’s mostly been Destiny Vaeao lining up next to Fletcher Cox. Ngata was replaced by Michael Bennett in certain packages.

Kamar Aiken had some nice moments in 1-on-1. It’s not impossible he sneaks on as the 53-man roster as the sixth receiver. Though I personally wouldn’t be rushing to put him on.

Rashard Davis caused an incompletion by running the wrong route. Doug Pederson went up to him and patted his helmet after the play.

• 1-on-1 pass protection drill: LaRoy Reynolds destroyed Josh Perkins. Billy Brown did a better job against Reynolds. Jordan Hicks absolutely smoked somebody, didn’t get to see who since the Eagles were practicing on the far side of the field. Wendell Smallwood had a good battle with Nigel Bradham where he ended up holding his own. Smallwood’s effort earned a high five from Darren Sproles.

• Undrafted free agent wide receiver Anthony Mahoungou made a tough catch over the middle today. Things went down hill from there, however, as he ended practice with a total of three drops.

• Punter update: Cameron Johnston drew praise from Doug Pederson after a booming punt. “Atta boy, Cam!” Then the Australian native proceeded to shank two in a row. One of them was partially caused by an off-target long snap from Rick Lovato. After Johnston’s shanks, I decided to record the hang time on his punts because I’m a really cool person. The average time I got was 4.64 seconds. For reference, the best hang time average in the NFL last year was 4.63 by Matt Bosher. So, Johnston clearly has some ability. It’s just about trying to maintain that consistency. You have to worry that he could shank a punt at a key moment in a game.

• The Rita’s Water Ice stand at practice was serving up a flavor that was clearly meant to honor Bleeding Green Nation. There’s no other possible explanation for the name.

It tasted just OK to me. Swedish Fish is still easily No. 1. Lemon jumped ahead of mango for me this summer. Blue raspberry is fourth. I won’t even both with juicy pear. I love pears as an actual fruit but the water ice flavor is weak.

UP NEXT: The Eagles are back at the NovaCare Complex for another practice tomorrow starting at 9:15 AM ET. As always, stay tuned to Bleeding Green Nation.