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Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes: DeVonta Smith goes deep, left tackle battle update

Here’s what we learned today.

Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Today marked the second 2021 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. Here’s what I observed! UPDATE: And here’s our daily BGN Radio podcast:

PRACTICE NOTES

JALEN HURTS UPDATE: After struggling on Wednesday, Hurts improved today. He made a nice throw while running left (even though he’s right-handed) during 11-on-11 for a first down to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.

Hurts also connected with DeVonta Smith for the play of the day. Smith burned Steven Nelson (who actually prefers ‘Steve’) deep down the field and Hurts hit him for a 70-yard (or so) touchdown. I initially wondered how the play might turn out since Hurts double-clutched the ball instead of just letting it rip but the quarterback put some nice touch on it for Smith to run underneath and make an over-the-shoulder catch. Not to make everything a comparison but, as the ball hung in the air, I had more confidence in it being completed than I would if Carson Wentz was throwing it. I’ve seen my fair share of Wentz overthrows in both game and practice settings. The Eagles might have a more efficient deep passing game with Hurts under center.

Speaking of overthrows, though, Hurts did miss Zach Ertz too high on a play where he started to run forward but threw it instead. The indecision cost him.

INJURY UPDATE: The big news is that Brandon Brooks left practice after the Eagles’ first set of team drills. Turns out he was bothered by a hamstring injury that the Eagles are calling a “precautionary evaluation.” The team will hope to see him back on the field soon.

Other changes from Wednesday’s report include: Greg Ward (non-COVID illness) returning as a limited participant, Quez Watkins (non-COVID illness) being ruled day-to-day, and Travis Fulgham (lower body) being ruled day-to-day.

LEFT TACKLE BATTLE: Unlike yesterday, Jordan Mailata got the first crack with the starters today. Andre Dillard did still rotate in.

Didn’t notice any major issues with Mailata in 1-on-1 or team drills. He notably stifled a bullrush attempt from Derek Barnett at one point.

Dillard, on the other hand, wasn’t as successful against the Eagles’ 2017 first-round pick. Barnett totally smoked him during a 1-on-1 rep, which is concerning considering Dillard’s weakness is typically against power and not speed considering his elite athletic profile. Later, Dillard was forced to basically tackle Barnett during an 11-on-11 rep. Easy holding penalty.

I did see Dillard successfully shut down Milton Williams in 11-on-11. Of course, Williams is a 2021 third-round pick who’s not a full-time defensive end.

DEPTH CHART NOTES - OFFENSE: Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are dominating the first team touches. No surprise here but they appear to be the clear top two running backs.

Matt Pryor was the first team right guard after Brooks was done for the day.

Do you care about the third team offensive line? If so, here’s what it looks like from left to right: Brett Toth, Ross Pierschbacher, Harry Crider, Kayode Awosika, Casey Tucker. A little interesting to me the Eagles are using Toth on the left side with most of his previous experience coming on the right.

DEPTH CHART NOTES - DEFENSE: Derek Barnett got the first crack at first team defensive end reps today, though Josh Sweat still rotated in. Both players had good showings. I already touched on Barnet. As for Sweat, he stood out in 1-on-1s. After practice, Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said he views both players as starters.

Genard Avery saw some first team reps as a weakside linebacker. He was basically lining up right over the slot receiver, though still with a defensive back behind him. Avery was dropping into coverage but the Eagles could also look to rush him from that spot.

T.J. Edwards replaced Eric Wilson with the first team defense. So, with Alex Singleton out, Davion Taylor appears to be LB1 for now. Shaun Bradley also saw some first team reps.

Marcus Epps, not K’Von Wallace, took first team reps next to Anthony Harris at safety. And whereas the likes of Barnett and Mailata were rotating within a set of drills, Epps was not coming out. Wallace replaced Epps with the first team later in practice, however.

DEPTH CHART NOTES - SPECIAL TEAMS: The Eagles tried punter Arryn Siposs instead of Jake Elliott on at least kickoff rep. Wonder if they’ll experiment further with that setup. Could allow Elliott to just focus on field goals and extra points. (And maybe the extremely rare drop kick or fair catch kick.)

• Through two days, I’ve been more impressed by Nick Mullens than Joe Flacco. The latter just hasn’t done much to stand out in a positive way. Mullens, on the other hand, has done a nice job of working the middle of the field. He fit the ball between defenders in some tight windows. I wonder about his ability to regularly throw outside the numbers but I like what we’ve seen thus far. Good accuracy.

• The Eagles used DeVonta on a jet sweep at one point. Smith only logged four rushing attempts for 6 yards and 1 touchdown at Alabama but the Eagles seem to see some usefulness in that capacity.

• Tyree Jackson made a few nice catches over the middle on Mulllens throws. The former quarterback did have a bad drop but we’ve seen more positive than negative so far. Maybe he finds a way to claim the TE3 spot ... assuming Ertz isn’t on the roster.

• Haven’t noticed much from Kenny Gainwell through two practices, other than him dropping a pass today.

• Jason Huntley had the best run of the day. The second-year running back juked a defender and en route to scoring on a stretch run. Hurts, who wasn’t even the quarterback at the time, ran onto the field to celebrate with him after the rep. If Huntley can continue to flash on offense while also providing kick return value, the Eagles will have to keep him around.

• I didn’t specifically notice him in 1-on-1 since I was also trying to watch 7-on-7 (a lot to see at once!) but my BGN Radio podcast co-host told me Tarron Jackson did well for himself. Earlier this offseason, Brandon Graham talked about how the Eagles’ rookie defensive linemen were looking good. Perhaps those weren’t just empty words.

• Jhamon Ausbon, the youngest player on the Eagles’ roster, made a nice grab over the middle about 20+ yards down the field. Caught the ball in stride with his hands fully extended from his body.

• It looked like practice was over at one point since the team got together for their typical post-practice huddle. But action resumed with a 7-on-7 (so, no linemen) red zone drill consisting of rookies and/or third string players. Perhaps this is to be taken as an emphasis on player development, giving some extra time to the young guys.

• Nick Sirianni spent some time talking to Ertz during today’s warmups.

UP NEXT: Another 10:00 AM practice start time for the Eagles on Friday. Stay tuned to BGN, as always.