Today marked the fifth 2019 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. The team was in pads as they went “live” for the first time this summer with full tackling to the ground. It was a hot, physical, and long practice. Grueling. Read on to see what I observed! Also, listen to the latest BGN Radio practice recap podcast by streaming below or [CLICKING HERE]:
• CARSON WENTZ UPDATE: Overall, more good than bad for Wentz. In a clear effort to mocking Spongebob meme his “cAn’T tHroW tHe DeEp BaLl” critics, Wentz connected down the field with a number of targets. During wide receiver versus defensive back 1-on-1, Wentz found DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor (multiple times), and Marken Michel for long gains.
Wentz continued to excel during team drills. He didn’t have his first incompletion until 10:36 AM (for context, practice started at 9:15 AM) ... and it was a drop by JJ Arcega-Whiteside. The Wentz-to-Agholor connection was especially tough for the defense to stop. Nelly showed great concentration/coordination to stay with a bouncing ball that was disrupted by a tightly contesting defensive back. Wentz then hit Agholor clean for some big chunk gains, including a 40-yarder. Another Agholor reception came on a flea flicker throw from Wentz. Wentz placed a ball perfectly high to 6-6 wide receiver Carlton Agudosi 25 yards down the field and over the middle. (Agudosi is a long shot to make the team but he’s had some flashy catches.)
Wentz did get picked off once. The quarterback targeted Arcega-Whiteside on a short throw over the middle and Sidney Jones wrestled the ball away from the rookie wide receiver. During 1-on-1, Jones broke up a Wentz pass meant for Alshon Jeffery. Jeffery had to slow down for the ball just a little; a better throw likely would’ve had Jones beat.
Speaking of Jeffery, I’ve seen some worry that he and Wentz haven’t been clicking as much as some of the other receivers. Several thoughts on that. For starters, it’s only the fifth day of training camp. There’s plenty of offseason left and this is their first full training camp with each other. On the other hand, stats suggest there is valid reason for concern. The timing with Wentz and Jeffery in the short/intermediate game isn’t as lacking as much as some of the down field stuff is. Wentz had a 30-yard attempt go right through Jeffery’s outstretched fingertips during 1-on-1.
• EAGLES INJURY UPDATE: Rodney McLeod got some work in on 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 for the second day in a row. Ronald Darby and Nigel Bradham aren’t doing team drills yet but they did take group install reps with the first team defense. Mack Hollins suited up for practice and warmed up with the team but didn’t participate in position or team drills. On Monday, Hollins said he expects to be back within a day or two. Paul Worrilow missed another practice.
• Doug Pederson, Mike Groh, and Howie Roseman have all previously hyped up 2018 undrafted rookie free agent signing Joe Ostman. Some have wondered if he was being overhyped but that clearly wasn’t the case today. After previously beating second team right tackle Jordan Mailata to get a “sack” on Monday, Ostman notched multiple “sacks” today. Ostman showed good bend to beat Mailata around the edge on one rep before later unleashing a nasty spin move to get to Nate Sudfeld. Ostman also logged a big run stuff on a Miles Sanders attempt. Perhaps most interestingly is that Ostman actually got some first team reps in the “Joker” role as a stand-up defensive end lining up over the interior offensive line. Ostman is making his case for a fourth or fifth or sixth defensive end spot on the 53-man roster.
• Sidney Jones continues to have a good camp after not impressing so much in the spring. I already mentioned the plays in the Wentz update but he had a pick and a pass breakup. After solely inspiring Nick Foles to win the Super Bowl, my next project is getting Jones to prove me wrong for not being super high on his outlook. You’re welcome.
• Rasul Douglas played well down the stretch in 2018 and he’s looked good all offseason long. Douglas allowed Jeffery to catch a fade pass from Wentz but then he immediately poked the ball out to force an incompletion. Douglas has made a strong case to be starting in 2019.
• Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, and Zach Brown were the first team linebackers in base defense during group install. As I’ve previously noted, I believe Bradham and Grugier-Hill will be the top two leaders in linebacker snaps. Brown has a reputation for being a standout player; Doug Farrar ranked him as the sixth best linebacker in the NFL and PFF graded him as their third best off-ball linebacker in 2018. But there’s clearly a disconnect with those evaluators and how the Eagles/NFL values Brown, who was a free agent until May after originally getting cut in March. I think Brown’s kind of in a Mychal Kendricks situation where he’ll make some flashy plays and fans will wonder why he’s not getting more playing time. Brown took a lot of second team linebacker reps during team drills and I believe I saw him running with the third team at one point.
• Clayton Thorson continues to look real bad. Several Eagles reporters who’ve covered training camp for many years said his Monday arm punt pass attempt was the worst training camp throw they’ve ever seen. Thorson might’ve had an even worse one today when he rolled out to the right and had a Boston Scott wide open in the flat five yards in front of him but took too long to throw and also fired the ball right into the ground in front of Scott’s legs. Really, really bad. Thorson later overthrew another attempt towards the sideline, which was an issue for him on Monday. He also had a pick dropped by former Northwestern teammate Godwin Igwebuike. A rookie quarterback struggling is certainly not unheard of. But I just never really got what there was to like with Thorson. He’s on the older side for a rookie (turns 24 in December), he has an injury history (ACL tear), and his college stats were discouraging in a historical context. There’s time for Thorson to turn things around and the Eagles might eventually look smart for developing him. But it also seems possible they just wasted a draft pick in a year where they only made five selections. Not great!
• Arcega-Whiteside hasn’t had the most active camp but he did make the play of the day today ... by accident. Wentz’s pass attempt meant for Agholor was batted up into the air and right into the arms of a running Arcega-Whiteside. Good awareness from the rookie but even better long speed as he sprinted down the sideline some 65+ yards for a touchdown. Faster than I expected. The whole offense went down the field to celebrate, which isn’t always common. JJ also made a contested catch with Douglas all up in his grill during 1-on-1s.
• Miles Sanders showed off his pass catching ability with a nice over-the-shoulder haul on a wheel route. Perfect touch from Wentz. That’s a play the Eagles should be going to in 2019 and beyond. Sanders also had a good touchdown run from about five yards out where he found a hole and fought through contact. Pederson encouraged the first team offense to celebrate this play. Gotta practice the celebrations, too.
• Nate Sudfeld continues to be up and down. He hit Shelton Gibson, who beat Jay Liggins, deep on the money for a touchdown during 1-on-1. He also threw an interception on an overthrown deep attempt to Agudosi. I’m more interested to see Sudfeld in preseason games because I feel like I already know what to expect from him in a practice setting.
• Malcolm Jenkins didn’t look so hot in 1-on-1. He got beat badly by Marken Michel on a double move. He also struggled to cover Greg Ward Jr.
• Ward got a lot of targets today. I heard someone recognizable to Eagles fans remark that he could be the new Wes Welker if he played for the Patriots. I don’t dislike a Greg Ward but I certainly wouldn’t go that far.
• L.J. Fort showed up by blowing up a run play in the backfield. He also quickly rallied to a dump off to Richard Rodgers.
• Shelton Gibson dropped a catchable pass for the second day in a row. Not making the best case for a sixth receiver spot.
• Charles Johnson had a real egregious offensive pass interference penalty where he basically shoved Sidney Jones to the ground.
• Jeremiah McKinnon had multiple pass breakups in addition to picking off Sudfeld. McKinnon also had a nice spring. Curious to see if he can keep it up in the preseason games.
• In Monday’s notes, I wrote about how Jenkins and Brandon Graham make an effort to race to the ball for the start of team drills. Jenkins beat Graham in a fair fight yesterday but it was Graham who won out today. Of course, Graham had a huge head start, but that didn’t stop Jenkins from sprinting to make it as close as he could.
• The Eagles’ defensive backs were doing this drill where one player was holding a ball and the other had to practice punching/stripping it out. Godwin Igwebuike’s follow-through with his strip attempt hit Deiondre’ Hall right where the sun don’t shine. Ouch. Hall really felt that one.
• Jeffrey Lurie got taken out by a play that went towards the sideline. The 67-year-old popped right back up, though, and seemed to be okay.
UP NEXT: The Eagles will back off the physicality tomorrow as they hold a 10-10-10 practice starting at 9:45 AM ET. Stay tuned to BGN, as always.