Today marked the second full 2020 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. Here’s what I observed!
• CARSON WENTZ UPDATE: Not Wentz’s best day. He had a throw knocked down by Cre’Von LeBlanc in 1-on-1. A throw to Zach Ertz up the seam in 11-on-11 was low and behind the tight end. Another throw to Dallas Goedert on a crossing route was a tad high and wide. Wentz’s deep attempt for Quez Watkins was just a little too far out in front of the rookie receiver. Wentz didn’t like what he saw on a certain red zone rep and aired the ball very high out of bounds before then slamming his helmet on the ground after the play in frustration. Wentz was almost picked off by Nickell Robey-Coleman on a short throw directly aimed at the nickel corner. Wentz then threw an interception to Jalen Mills, who jumped in front of the ball to make the play. To be clear, it wasn’t ALL bad for Wentz. He did have a nice completion to Ertz in a tight window over the middle for a 25-yard gain. Wentz threw a touchdown pass over the middle to JJAW (!) during red zone drills. And No. 11 finished practice on a high note by lofting a ball to John Hightower that landed right in the bread basket for a touchdown. I think Wentz’s starting job is still safe.
• EAGLES INJURY UPDATE: DeSean Jackson, Malik Jackson, and Jason Kelce all had veteran rest days. Derek Barnett and Javon Hargrave are still out but they “have a realistic shot” at playing in Week 1. Jason Peters was suited up for practice but didn’t really participate; the Eagles seem to be managing his workload despite his transition to right guard. JJ Arcega-Whtieside did some position work but was more limited in team drills. Duke Riley returned to practice in full after missing Monday due to unspecified “illness.” Didn’t notice Andre Dillard rotating in and out like he was on Monday.
• Hard not to like what we’ve seen out of Jalen Hurts through two practices. He hasn’t been perfect, to be clear, but there are positive flashes. That’s more than what can be said for Nate Sudfeld, who hasn’t looked bad by any means but hasn’t done much to really stand out in a good way either. Hurts was very effective in the red zone. His speed is apparent when he takes off running, which has occurred fairly often. Hurts logged several red zone rushing touchdowns — including one where he juked the crap out of Marcus Epps on a read-option keeper — before rolling out to his right and throwing for another score. Quarterback controversy?!?! (Nah.) Hurts did get intercepted by K’Von Wallace (first time really noticing him) on a player where John Hightower slipped. Hurts overthrew Hightower on another rep and had another pass for Hightower deflected and nearly picked by Rasul Douglas. Hurts did loft a deep touchdown ball to Robert Davis during 1-on-1.
• Wanted to share this relevant note on Hurts from the wonderful Football Outsiders Almanac (recommended purchase):
Hurts led all players in college football with 17 red zone touchdowns last year—not quarterbacks but all players period. He should be a serious threat on RPOs, with or without Carson Wentz in the backfield with him. As a passer, he’s a work in progress but with plenty of upside. Our own Derrik Klassen had him third in the class with a 74.5% adjusted accuracy rate in charting; however, 5.9% of his passes required his receivers to make adjustments, the highest in the class.
It doesn’t really make sense to take the ball out of Wentz’s hands in the red zone since he’s been so good down there. But perhaps the coaching staff will try to get Hurts occasionally involved in some plays down there when the real games start.
• Sudfeld threw a nice fade touchdown to Hightower. He overthrew Manasseh Bailey on a deep route. Sudfeld gave Davis a jump ball opportunity that was broken up by Epps flying in to make the play.
• Depth chart notes: With Kelce resting and Peters not participating, the Eagles’ first team offensive line looked like this from left to right: Andre Dillard, Matt Pryor, Isaac Seumalo, Nate Herbig, Lane Johnson. — I’ve maintained there isn’t true competition for the starting cornerback job opposite from Darius Slay and that appears to be ringing true as Avonte Maddox was the full time guy there again today. — Duke Riley was the third linebacker in base defense with Nathan Gerry and T.J. Edwards still lining up as the top two guys.
• Speaking of the farcical second cornerback battle, Sidney Jones had some rough moments today. He got beat badly by Robert Davis in 1-on-1. Jones also went for a leaping pass breakup on a Sudfeld throw at one point but missed entirely, leaving Josh Perkins wide open behind him for a catch and run. I think Jones did log either a pass breakup or an interception at one point but I couldn’t perfectly tell from the angle I had. Douglas, meanwhile, had a deflection as previously mentioned. But he also got burned by Watkins deep. Neither corner appears to be pushing Maddox, who hasn’t stood out either way.
• Haven’t noticed much Slay, either, but he did break up a deep pass in 1-on-1.
• Quieter day for Jalen Reagor but he looked good catching a slant in 1-on-1. He’s had success with that route early on.
• Wentz seems to have some level of trust in Watkins. The starting quarterback hasn’t been shy to target the rookie receiver. Good to see.
• Offensive line versus defensive line 1-on-1 notes: Andre Dillard earned praise for stuffing Josh Sweat’s pass rush attempt. Brandon Graham cooked Jordan Mailata. Nate Herbig couldn’t handle Fletcher Cox and expressed frustration with a word that begins with “F.” Herbig also got beat by Anthony Rush on a bull rush. Luke Juriga got driven back by Hassan Ridgeway but didn’t let the defensive tackle get by him. Ridgeway earned praise from coaches and teammates alike for his performance in these drills; he’s shaping up to be a good fourth defensive tackle option. Matt Pryor showed quick hands and delivered a powerful strike on Joe Ostman to neutralize his pass rush.
• The defense as a whole was getting the better of the Eagles’ offense today. The second team unit forced a coverage sack on Sudfeld at one point. T.J. Edwards sniffed out a screen throw from Wentz and blew up the play. Deontay Burnett got absolutely flattened by Shaun Bradley — who made some plays on Monday — while trying to block on a running play. Defenders watching from the sideline saw that happen right in front of them and loved it. Doug Pederson took off his mask to yell at them to get off the field.
• Gerry did a nice job of not falling for a surprise onside kick attempt when the Eagles were doing kickoff drills. He maintained discipline to not turn his back too early and easily recovered the ball. The coaching staff has previously talked about how Gerry is a smart player and moments like this probably validate their trust in him.
• Corey Clement had a short Wentz throw go through his hands and get intercepted by Nathan Gerry for a pick six.
• Undrafted rookie free agent running back Michael Warren also dropped a pass in the flat.
• Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Corey Clement, and Adrian Killins were back taking kick return reps. Darren Sproles was giving some pointers to the young guys.
• Connor Barwin was serving as the quarterback dummy for OL vs. DL 1-on-1. Not actually throwing the ball but just shuffling there to give the pass rushers a target to aim at.
Doug Pederson and special assistant to the general manager Connor Barwin share a fist bump and a conversation before today’s #Eagles practice. (This is as close as I can currently get.) pic.twitter.com/tADWcqmvno— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 18, 2020
Up next: Another 10:30 practice start time for the Eagles on Wednesday. Stay tuned to BGN, as always.