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Eagles OTA Practice Notes: Carson Wentz off to an encouraging start

First impressions of the 2019 squad.

NFL: International Series-Philadelphia Eagles Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles began their 2019 OTA practices on Tuesday. The practice session was open to media and I was there. Keep in mind that these are all non-contact drills at this point. Players aren’t allowed to wear pads yet. There’s only so much to be gleaned from guys running around in shorts, but here’s what I noticed on Tuesday.

CARSON WENTZ UPDATE: Prior to practice, Doug Pederson said Wentz wasn’t going to be limited in practice. Turns out Dougie P was telling the truth: Wentz was a full participant on Tuesday, which is very encouraging. Wentz is no longer wearing the knee brace that he sported at this time last year. It was always clear he didn’t like wearing it considering how he’d often adjust/fiddle with it. No longer encumbered by the brace, Wentz showed off good mobility (see videos below) during practice. He was regularly getting the ball out quick and delivering accurate strikes. One such occasion was when he hit Zach Ertz right on the hands on a post route for an over-the-shoulder touchdown reception. Wentz made another tight window throw to Ertz (let the “too much Ertz!” complaints begin) over the middle of the field. Wentz fit a ball between multiple defenders in the end zone to Greg Ward, who dropped it. Wentz had a few incompletions (Nathan Gerry broke up one of his passes) that he could afford to clean up but for the most part I thought No. 11 had a very encouraging day. He looked healthy and I think his outlook is bright considering he’ll have a full offseason to get ready for 2019.

• ATTENDANCE UPDATES: A number of veterans are skipping voluntary workouts: Malcolm Jenkins, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters. I don’t think any of those guys need to be here but I do think it’d be nice if Jeffery showed up sooner than minicamp because Wentz and him could use more reps together. Zach Brown also wasn’t seen at practice.

• INJURY UPDATES: I didn’t see Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox, or Jalen Mills on the field. Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, and Corey Clement participated in warmups but only did rehab work on a side field. Nigel Bradham was also off to the side. Prior to practice, Pederson says Mack Hollins is still recovering despite being injured for like 50 years (actually 15 months) now. Josh Adams is dealing with a shoulder recovery that’ll keep him out until training camp. Miles Sanders was wearing a visor instead of a helmet; no practice for him. Guessing it’s not a serious issue but still a bummer we didn’t get to see him on Day 1.

• DEPTH CHART UPDATES: Click here to read about my depth chart notes. The most significant thing is that Halapoulivaati Vaitai is getting first team guard reps with Brooks missing time. It seems like Big V — and not Stefen Wisniewski — could start the season between Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson if Brooks isn’t ready to play right away.

• In case you forgot, the Eagles brought DeSean Jackson back to Philly this offseason. I can prove it:

Jackson didn’t break any big plays today but it’s only a matter of time before we see that first DeSean bomb.

• Speaking of DeSean, I thought Rasul Douglas did a good job of covering him today. Douglas stayed with Jackson deep down the field and was in position to contest a catch that ultimately went incomplete. During a red zone drill, Douglas threw Jackson off his route to force another incompletion. Now, I’d venture that Douglas is going much harder in practice than Jackson is. Still, Douglas flashed in a good way.

Avonte Maddox is another standout player from today’s session. The second-year defensive back primarily lined up at first team nickel corner. He broke up a red zone target for Nelson Agholor and made a leaping pick on a Cody Kessler pass during 3-on-3. Maddox is too good to not be getting regular playing time.

Sidney Jones had tight coverage on a short throw where he broke quickly on the throw. He also got beat by Richard Rodgers, who isn’t the most fleet of foot, in a 2-on-2 situation.

Dallas Goedert is also too good to not be getting regular playing time. On that note, I was encouraged to see the Eagles use a decent amount of two tight ends. Goedert really impressed during practices last year and he looks even better this spring. He’s just so big and strong. Defenders can try to contest all they want but he’s getting the ball when it’s thrown in his area. He just looks impossible to guard at times. Goedert had a red zone touchdown on a weird play where: 1) Wentz threw a quick pass to Ertz, 2) Ertz bobbled the ball up into the air, 3) it looked like a defender was going to pick it off, 4) Goedert emerged from nowhere to get the ball and take it over the goal line for a score. Takeaway: Goedert doesn’t even need to be the target in order to score a receiving touchdown. He’s THAT good. But seriously, he’s really good.

Nate Sudfeld didn’t look too much different than what I saw out of him last year: up and down. There were some bad passes; Josh Hawkins dropped a pick on a ball thrown behind Goedert. There was also a dime he delivered to a double covered Joshua Perkins along the sideline.

• Wasn’t too impressed by Kessler. In addition to throwing a bad pick, he overthrew a deep wide open DeAndre Thompkins. In fairness, Kessler did only sign with the team about a week ago.

• Clayton Thorson was solid. Better than I expected him to be, which isn’t saying a ton. He didn’t do anything overly impressive. He also didn’t look totally lost, like how Matt Barkley looked as a rookie in 2013. Decent first impression.

• JJ Arcega-Whiteside flashed his signature ability to make jump ball catches. Almost. He did a real nice job of high pointing a deep ball thrown his way but he unfortunately lost control while going to the ground. Still, you can see the tracking ability was there.

• Some quick safety notes: Andrew Sendejo did a good job of undercutting a red zone route but ultimately dropped the pick in the end zone. Blake Countess sniffed out a screen to Wendell Smallwood.

Boston Scott and Donnel Pumphrey were the primary two guys returning punts. I’m mildly interested to see who the Eagles’ punt returner will be this year.

Joe Ostman’s arms are HUGE. They look like they might explode at any moment.

#JerseyNumberAnalytics: Charles Johnson is now wearing No. 84 instead of No. 3. Great for his stock. He also took first team reps with Jeffery missing. Probably just because of the number change, to be honest. Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver DeAndre Thompkins also received a number change; he went from No. 1 to No. 81. That’s a REALLY good number for a UDFA receiver. I’d also like to note that Thompkins reportedly received the third highest guaranteed money of all the Eagles’ undrafted signings.

• With Chris Long retiring, the Eagles are cross-training Wentz to also be a pass rusher. (Not really).

Remaining offseason workout schedule

OTA Offseason Workouts: May 22-23, May 28, May 30-31, June 3-6.

Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13.

BGN Coverage: The following practices are open to the media: May 28, June 3, June 5, June 11-13. I’ll be at all of those practices. Follow me for live updates: @BrandonGowton.

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