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Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes: All along the John Hightower

Here’s what we learned today.

Today marked the fourth 2020 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice open to media. Here’s what I observed! UPDATE: Even more Eagles coverage available on the latest BGN Radio daily recap podcast episode with Jimmy Kempski.

PRACTICE NOTES

• The Eagles were back in pads today after a walk-through on Wednesday. Doug Pederson said the Eagles will go “live” with tackling tomorrow on Friday.

EAGLES INJURY UPDATE: No real new items other than Fletcher Cox having a maintenance day and Josh Sweat missing practice due to unspecified “illness.” Miles Sanders, Derek Barnett, Javon Hargrave, Dallas Goedert, Boston Scott, and Sidney Jones all missed practice. I did see Marcus Epps head over to the medical tent at one point but I’m not sure if he returned or not.

CARSON WENTZ UPDATE: Wentz bounced back today after not having the best practice on Tuesday. Didn’t see the ball hit the ground too much when he was up. Wentz had an impressive kind of backyard football play where he threw the ball across his body and off his back foot with immediate pressure in his face to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in stride in a tight window. Wentz had another good strike to JJAW for about 20 yards. Wentz threw completions to Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward over the middle with defenders draped on them. DeSean Jackson found a soft spot in the Eagles’ defense on a crosser and Wentz hit him for catch-and-run touchdown. Good to see those two picking up where they left off from last year. Wentz did slightly underthrow a deep target for Jackson that was broken up by a diving Nickell Robey-Coleman. Wentz also had a short pass attempt broken up by Will Parks.

• Pretty good day of practice for John Hightower. The 2020 fifth-round pick ran a crisp comeback route in 1-on-1s to shake Rasul Douglas and caught a perfectly timed throw from Wentz. Hightower beat Darius Slay (!) on his next rep, which you can see in the video below. Hightower made a diving contested catch over the middle on a Nate Sudfeld throw. Jalen Hurts found Hightower deep for a touchdown catch with Slay trailing in coverage. In fairness to the secondary, Hurts had a lot of time to throw. Still, we’ve seen encouraging signs from all of the Eagles’ rookie receiver draft picks this week. (Side note: Yes, it’s still very much too early to panic about Slay. I’ve seen some unrest about him getting beat. I can totally understand people being worried about a high profile corner not working out in Philly but we’re just not there yet at all.)

• Today marked the first day of Jason Peters taking right guard reps in pads. I didn’t notice him egregiously mess up but there was a moment where it didn’t look like him and Lane Johnson were on the same page. I should also note that the first team offensive line wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders with the pocket collapsing to “sack” Wentz on multiple reps. Bears watching moving forward.

• Greg Ward (slot), JJAW (X) and Jackson (Z) were the first team wide receivers again. Reagor was also rotating in. Noah Togiai notably saw some first team reps at tight end with Goedert out. Maybe he can push Josh Perkins off the roster?

• Fourth straight day with Avonte Maddox lining up as the starting cornerback across from Darius Slay. He had a good leaping challenge on a Jalen Hurts jump ball for Robert Davis (6-3, 210 pounds) but the wide receiver made the play. Size is obviously a concern with Maddox (5-9, 184 pounds). I will say that I haven’t noticed Maddox get beat badly thus far. He’s close to contest any catch he might give up.

K’Von Wallace notched two diving pass breakups. I know Eagles fans will be excited to hear about him making plays.

• Jalen Hurts was picked off by Elijah Riley. The Army undrafted rookie free agent cornerback read the route and jumped in front of the ball. Second day in a row where Hurts has been caught on that. Hurts had Manasseh Bailey wiiide open deep down the field in the end zone at one point but his throw drifted out of bounds.

Deontay Burnett caught a deep touchdown pass from Wentz in 1-on-1. I like a Deontay Burnett. He had another catch in 11-on-11 where he made a defender blow by him with a pivot to find open field for YAC. Burnett did get decked by Duke Riley at one point, marking the second day in a row where he was man-handled to the ground. Downside to being on the smaller side at 186 pounds. Burnett, only 22, should at least make the practice squad.

• More 1-on-1 notes: The aforementioned NRC broke up another Wentz throw for Jackson. Certainly earning his first nickel corner job. Greg Ward almost dusted Jalen Mills with a nasty route but Mills did well to recover and almost break up the pass that Ward would ultimately bobble and drop. Slay chased down Hightower on the rep he got beat to pop the ball out. The rep was essentially over but Hightower’s still gotta be more aware and get into good ball security habits.

Davion Taylor managed to stick close enough to the speedy Adrian Killins down the field on a wheel route to force an incompletion. Rookie linebacker showing off his athleticism there.

• Reagor, Ward, Maddox, Killins, Burnett, and Quez Watkins were all back returning punts. Darren Sproles had them lined up in a row where he would call for the punt to be launched into the air while they were facing away from the ball. Then he would call one of their numbers for them to turn around, locate the ball, and field it cleanly.

• I had a limited view of the offensive line versus defensive line drills as I was trying to watch both them and 7-on-7 but I did notice that Hassan Ridgeway continues to look good. He flattened Nate Herbig to the ground at one point. Shareef Miller also pancaked an offensive lineman (not sure who) and earned high fives from his defensive line teammates. Nice to see Philly Reef doing some good things.

• Herbig, lining up at second team center, launched a snap over Hurts’ head in 11-on-11. The coaching staff seems to like him but I’ve noticed more bad than good with the second-year blocker.

• Can’t say Jordan Mailata is having the best camp. Had a false start today.

• Miles Sanders and Boston Scott were having a toss on the sideline at one point. Both players were moving fairly well, no apparent signs of injury.

Up next: Another 10:30 practice start time for the Eagles on Friday. It’s going to be a physical one before the team has off on Saturday. Stay tuned to BGN, as always.

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