The Philadelphia Eagles began the final week of their OTA practice schedule on Monday. The 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.
• CARSON WENTZ UPDATE: Doug Pederson wasn’t just blowing smoke when he said Wentz has been one of the team’s most impressive players in spring practices. The Eagles’ starting quarterback looks locked in. Wentz flashed deep ball accuracy on completions to DeSean Jackson (who shook off Avonte Maddox) and Marken Michel (who ran by Rasul Douglas). Wentz’s arm strength — a quality that Pederson specifically praised — showed when he rifled a pass by Maddox in 3-on-3. Maddox didn’t even have bad coverage as he was sitting on a short curl route but Wentz’s throw beat his reaction time. Wentz threw a strike between multiple defenders over the middle to Greg Ward. Wentz would’ve had a back shoulder touchdown throw to Charles Johnson in the middle of the end zone during a red zone drill had Johnson not dropped the pass. Wentz did have a couple misfires. He overthrew Zach Ertz on a fade in the end zone and he also underthrew a deep throw to DeSean Jackson, which allowed Jeremiah McKinnon to knock the ball down. Speaking of DeSean, Wentz absolutely LOVES throwing to him. They’ve connected so often in just three spring practices I’ve been able to watch this year. It’s not like Wentz is forcing the ball there, either. Wentz rarely throws an incompletion when he’s targeting Jackson.
• ATTENDANCE UPDATES: Malcolm Jenkins, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson, and Jason Peters still aren’t at OTAs. All of those players save for Peters attended Wentz’s AO1 charity event in Philly on Friday evening.
• INJURY UPDATES: Nelson Agholor wasn’t at practice today. Neither was Miles Sanders, Brandon Brooks, Jalen Mills, Nigel Bradham, Fletcher Cox, or Derek Barnett. Rodney McLeod was limited in practice for the first time all spring. The veteran safety didn’t participate in team drills but he did some individual work and took some group install reps with the first team defense. Good sign for McLeod. Mack Hollins (!) proved he’s still alive by doing some rehab work (running) on a side field. Good to see. Also good to hear Pederson say he’s “optimistic” Hollins will be ready for training camp. Josh Adams was running with Hollins off to the side. Ronald Darby, Corey Clement, and Carlton Agudosi were also doing some rehab stuff on a side field.
• DEPTH CHART UPDATES: Last week, Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox lined up at outside cornerback with Sidney Jones lining up at the nickel. This week, Douglas and Jones were back on the outside with Maddox in the slot. Zach Brown practiced for the first time this spring and he was a second team linebacker next to L.J. Fort. Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry were the first team linebackers. The Eagles aren’t just handing Brown a starting job ... but he’ll probably beat out Gerry. Greg Ward took first team slot receiver reps with Agholor out.
• I already touched on DeSean in the Wentz section at the top of this post but I’ll say it again here: he’s a pretty good player. And it’s not just about his speed. His route-running has been sharp. This was on display when he shook Douglas for a wide open touchdown reception from Wentz in the back corner of the end zone. It was also on display all practice long when he was always open. Jackson’s speed showed up when he caught a crossing route and easily beat undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Joey Alfieri to the corner to sprint up the sideline.
• More up and down from Nate Sudfeld. The good included a fade pass touchdown to Charles Johnson and a jump ball touchdown throw to Johnson in the middle of the end zone. The bad included a pass intended for a target in the flat that sailed wide and out of bounds along with an interception thrown right at Deiondre’ Hall. Sudfeld tried to throw over Hall but the defensive back made the leaping pick.
• Vinny Curry stood out when it came to both rushing the passer and stuffing the run. He got the best of rookie offensive tackle Andre Dillard on a number of reps. Curry also brought great energy to practice. Curry started barking like a dog after J.J. Arcega-Whiteside dropped a slant from Wentz. Timmy Jernigan ran up to Curry and started yelling “ALRIGHT! ALRIGHT!” Gotta love the d-line guys bringing the juice in a June 3 practice.
• Energetic as the d-line was, though, they pale in comparison to the Eagles’ defensive backs. That group is easily the most animated and fun-loving position on the team. The DBs were going through a special teams drill that featured two jammers versus one gunner. Rasul Douglas got jammed at the line of scrimmage, the whistle blew, and then Tre Sullivan pretended to windmill dunk over Douglas.
• Avonte Maddox continues to make plays on the ball. The second-year defender broke up a Clayton Thorson throw intended for Braxton Miller. Miller got his hands on the ball but Maddox knocked it down. Impossible to miss Maddox during a given Eagles practice.
• L.J. Fort blew up a Boston Scott run play. Fort’s looked OK.
• T.J. Edwards continues to stand out. He blew up another screen play, this one to Wendell Smallwood. He’s good at recognizing what the offense is doing.
• Jordan Mailata got benched for a couple plays after false starting. Both sides of the line were a little extra jumpy today.
• Case in point: Josh Sweat got flagged for being offside.
• Treyvon Hester got good pressure up the middle and “sacked’ Sudfeld.
• Shelton Gibson dropped a pass while wide open. His drops aren’t nearly as bad as they used to be but they still happen.
• Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas attended practice. He was not wearing New York Jets gear.
• Penn State head coach James Franklin (along with a convoy of PSU associates) attended Eagles practice.
Remaining offseason workout schedule
OTA Offseason Workouts: June 4-6.
Mandatory Minicamp: June 11-13.
BGN Coverage: The following practices are open to the media: June 5, June 11-13. I’ll be at all of those practices. Follow me for live updates: @BrandonGowton.