Today marked the first full 2021 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. It was a fairly energetic session, which is fitting given Nick Sirianni’s personality. Here’s what I observed! UPDATE: And here’s our podcast practice recap:
• JALEN HURTS UPDATE: Before I even start to describe what I saw out of Hurts today, allow me to offer a disclaimer: this was just one practice. No one needs to be making sweeping judgments just yet. This much applies to all of today’s observations, of course, but I feel the need to stress it at the top. Cool?
Yeah, so, I didn’t think Hurts had a great practice. It wasn’t all bad. He did have a nice completion to DeVonta Smith in stride in the back right corner of the end zone. He would’ve had another touchdown pass in a tight window over the middle had Smith not dropped it (Gasp! Impossible!)
As for the bad, Hurts almost got picked off by K’Von Wallace during a red zone 11-on-11 session. The second-year quarterback seemed to unwisely force the ball into tight coverage. Not too long after, Hurts was picked off by Josiah Scott on a short throw over the middle.
Hurts missed a throw to a wide-open Boston Scott in the flat. The ball came out wobbly and was a little too far out of the running back’s reach. There was another red zone throw for Smith where the ball was low and knocked down fairly easily by Darius Slay.
Something that continues to bear watching is Hurts’ release time. According to Pro Football Focus, he had the slowest time to throw of any NFL quarterback last year at 3.39 seconds. Now, part of that has to do with Hurts being a mobile threat. Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Taysom Hill, Josh Allen, and Deshaun Watson are the next five names on that list. Hurts is probably never going to lead the league in time to throw and that’s OK. But 3.39 was significantly longer than Jackson’s second-longest mark of 3.17 seconds. It would be nice to see him getting it out a little faster and being more decisive about where to go with the ball.
On this note, there were some issues with Hurts getting it out in a timely manner. He was “sacked” a few times and Brandon Graham forced him into a sideline throwaway.
Again, it’s just one day and it’s a new scheme and everything. No one should be pressing the panic button just yet. Still, it would be nice to see some more encouraging signs moving forward.
• EAGLES INJURY UPDATE: Lots of stuff to cover here. Stay with me.
Rodney McLeod (ACL) and Le’Raven Clark (Achilles) are both starting camp on active/PUP. McLeod previously said he’s aiming to play in Week 1 but I guess we’ll see if that’s the case. I did see him doing some running on a side field. Clark is a contender to begin the regular season on reserve/PUP, meaning he could miss at least six games.
Landon Dickerson (ACL) is starting camp on the active/NFI list. Dickerson was seen sporting a brace. The timetable for return is unclear.
Alex Singleton, Andrew Adams, and Matt Leo are starting camp on the reserve/COVID-19 list. As a reminder, this designation doesn’t necessarily mean they tested positive. In any case, they must be cleared before being eligible to return.
Isaac Seumalo (hamstring) and Nate Meadors (hamstring) are “week-to-week.” Based on the Eagles’ use of “week-to-week” in the past, we might not see Seumalo much in the preseason. As a long shot to make the roster, Meadors isn’t in a good situation.
Quez Watkins (still completing physical), Greg Ward (non-COVID illness), and Shakial Taylor (lower body) are “day-to-day.” Should be back soon.
Jalen Reagor (lower body tightness) was limited in today’s practice. He didn’t warm up with everyone but did briefly participate in position drills before sitting out full team sessions. Not a death knell by any means but also not the ideal start to what’s a very big summer for Reagor in terms of taking a big step forward.
• LEFT TACKLE BATTLE: Andre Dillard got the first crack at first team left tackle, though Jordan Mailata rotated in at times. Dillard seemed to get more reps overall. We’ll see if that configuration persists.
• DEPTH CHART NOTES - OFFENSE: With Seumalo out, it was Nate Herbig who lined up at first team left guard. I wonder if it would’ve been Dickerson if he was healthy.
At wide receiver, Travis Fulgham and DeVonta Smith were the starters on the outside with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside lining up in the slot. As previously noted, though, Reagor and Ward weren’t practicing.
• DEPTH CHART NOTES - DEFENSE: Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat (!) were first up as the first team defensive ends. That left Ryan Kerrigan and Derek Barnett with the second team. Barnett did replace Sweat on the first team later on, though. Looks like there’s a DE battle.
After practice, Fletcher Cox noted that Milton Williams is playing the same position as Brandon Graham. I don’t remember seeing Williams at defensive end today but that’s something to watch moving forward. Not inconceivable to think Williams has some versatile inside-outside apability but Williams (6-3, 284) and Graham (6-2, 265) aren’t exactly identical players.
Eric Wilson and Davion Taylor (!) were the first team linebackers. Interesting to see Taylor ahead of T.J. Edwards and Shaun Bradley. One would guess that Singleton would’ve been paired with Wilson if he was practicing. Between JJAW, Dillard, and Taylor, there were a lot of first team reps for Howie Roseman’s high draft picks that have yet to pan out.
With McLeod out, K’Von Wallace got the first team reps in his place. Anthony Harris was the other starting safety. Darius Slay and Steven Nelson were the first team boundary cornerbacks with Avonte Maddox lining up in the slot.
• DEPTH CHART NOTES - SPECIAL TEAMS: Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, and DeVonta Smith (in that order) were back fielding punts. Reagor was also standing near that group but wasn’t participating.
• Zach Ertz was a full participant at practice. He has blonde hair now:
Ertz and Roseman spent some time talking on the field after practice. During his presser, Roseman was asked if Ertz is going to be on the roster this year. The GM said yes. We’ll see. If the Eagles don’t truly intend on keeping him, it’s pretty crazy that they’re letting him practice and risk being on the hook for $8.5 million they could otherwise clear and roll over to next year.
• One of the reasons I have hope for Miles Sanders bouncing back as a pass-catcher is how he’s been honest about his struggles in that regard. Such candor is not present with every player. Sanders was working on his hands while the rest of the Eagles were doing special teams drills:
Miles Sanders working on his hands with Jemal Singleton. Led the Eagles (and all NFL RBs) in drops last year. pic.twitter.com/GDwVYQt8Ij— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 28, 2021
• The Eagles were mixing in some 3-4 looks. Another thing to continue to monitor.
• We noted this back in OTAs but it was apparent again today: Sirianni has a very hands-on approach to coaching. He took Fulgham aside after a wide receiver drill and was very animated in giving him feedback.
• A sign that the world is ending: DeVonta Smith dropped TWO passes. I can’t believe it. I already mentioned one in the Hurts section at the top of this post. The other one came on an attempted screen play. Smith didn’t have the easiest day while mostly going up against Slay. But I fully expect him to have better practices very soon. He’s too good for it not to happen.
• Joe Flacco almost got picked off by T.J. Edwards on a throw over the middle. Either he didn’t see the linebacker there or he didn’t do a good job of floating the ball over him. One positive (?) I’ll say about Flacco is that he doesn’t look afraid to take an open checkdown when nothing is there for him.
• JJAW made a nice adjustment on a ball that was thrown behind him along the back line of the end zone. Good body control. Unfortunately, one of the refs at practice ruled him out.
• Jordan Howard had a nice run that drew praise from the coaching staff. Made a really nice cut that gave him open field to work with.
• Adrian Killins got stripped during a 7-on-7 drill. Not good to be fumbling when the pads aren’t even on.
• Tyree Jackson had a nice moment where he trucked linebacker Rashad Smith after making a catch. Good to see that kind of physicality out of a quarterback transitioning to wide receiver. Jackson is a decently sized dude at 6-7, 249. (Still shorter than me, though.)
• Genard Avery was running as a third team off-ball linebacker. Maybe not the best sign for his roster chances.
• Thought this was worth sharing:
New and fun drill at Eagles camp. pic.twitter.com/zCR8TLj9lN— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 28, 2021
• Brandon Lee Graham greeting Brandon Lee Gowton:
I was just one of the many media members that Graham greeted before practice. He was excited to be able to interact with us in person for the first time in a long time.
• Shout out to Eagles PR and Chickie’s & Pete’s for providing lunch after practice. I was starving so I had to try a little bit of everything (all of the time): a cheesesteak, a mini soft pretzel, a tomato pie slice, a few chicken nuggets, and some crabfries with cheese sauce.
UP NEXT: Another 10:00 AM practice start time for the Eagles on Thursday. Stay tuned to BGN, as always.