Today marked the seventeenth and final 2021 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. It was the second of the Birds’ two joint sessions against the New York Jets in Florham Park, New Jersey. Here’s what I observed! UPDATE: Here’s the accompanying BGN Radio practice recap podcast!
• Not unlike the Eagles’ second practice against the New England Patriots last week, the teams exclusively ran red zone drills.
• JALEN HURTS UPDATE: I like what we saw out of Hurts today! Good day for No. 1.
Hurts threw a touchdown pass to Zach Ertz in the back middle of the end zone. Whereas Hurts struggled with throwing too low and getting picked off by linebackers earlier in camp, he made sure to get the ball high enough over the defense here. He gave his tall target a chance to use his height to his advantage.
Hurts rolled right and hit a crossing Quez Watkins along the right sideline of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown in crunch time. The play very well could’ve been a sack since there was a free rusher who wasn’t actually allowed to get too close to the Eagles’ quarterback bearing down on Hurts. Still, I liked to see the accuracy while throwing on the move.
Hurts capped off the Eagles’ crunch time drive with a touchdown throw to Greg Ward over the middle on fourth down. Then he hit DeVonta in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion to “tie the game” in the scripted scenario where the Eagles were down 26 to 18. That was the final play for the Eagles’ first team offense.
Hurts had a pass knocked down at the line of scrimmage by John Franklin-Myers.
Hurts was late to throw to Dallas Goedert and a Jets defender knocked down the pass.
Hurts was guilty of taking a couple more “sacks” after being late to throw the ball.
• EAGLES INJURY UPDATES: No major news here. Elijah Riley and Patrick Johnson got banged up in practice and went to get looked at inside before later returning.
• Another good day for Quez Watkins. He made two tough catches where he was right up against the sideline and managed to get his toes down for receptions. As confirmed by the NFL officials watching the plays. Throw the ball to Quez and good things happen.
Quez Watkins on being promoted to the first team after starting camp lower down the depth chart:— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 25, 2021
“I’ve still got to earn my way. Every day is an interview.” #Eagles pic.twitter.com/deRPWcBw25
• Kenny Gainwell had his best practice of the summer. The rookie running back made an over-the-shoulder catch on a fade in 1-on-1s. And then a leaping grab as well. Gainwell also looked good as a runner by making his way through contact into the end zone. After he crossed the goal line, he got up in Isaiah Dunn’s face since the rookie DB hit him a bit after the play was obviously over. The same thing happened a little later which caused a scrum but no punches were thrown. Gainwell ultimately got his revenge by making a catch in the flat and diving for the front right pylon to beat Lamar Jackson (the Jets’ cornerback, not the Ravens’ quarterback.) Gainwell got off to a bit of a slow start this summer but his stock is now rising.
• DeVonta Smith killed the Jets’ defensive backs in 1-on-1s. Jets beat writer Connor Hughes called Smith a “wildy impressive route runner.” Yup. Here’s some evidence:
All day killin 'em @DeVontaSmith_6 pic.twitter.com/bngq2FeijZ— Gil (@PhillyGiL) August 25, 2021
• Javon Hargrave, who has arguably been the Eagles’ best player in camp, ended the day for the Jets’ first team offense when he “sacked” Zach Wilson. Josh Sweat was also in the area but, in speaking after practice, Hargrave told reporters that he definitely deserved all the credit on that one. Biased source but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.
Javon Hargrave: “That whole defensive line, I feel like we’re going to wreck things this year.”#Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 25, 2021
• The Eagles broke out the good ol’ shovel pass, which is undefeated when it comes to generating touchdowns. Hurts faked a handoff at the mesh point, started to drift left, and then flicked the ball back right to Goedert for a touchdown open the middle. I’ve seen the Chiefs run that with Travis Kelce. Vintage Andy Reid.
• The Eagles executed a screen pass to Miles Sanders that resulted in a touchdown. Jason Kelce was really fired up and butted his helmet against Sanders’ after the running back had taken a bump from Jets defender while going into the end zone. Sanders also had a good run to the outside at one point.
• Good day for Joe Flacco. The Eagles’ sideline was fired up after he threw short of the goal line to Richard Rodgers, who out-powered a defender to cross the goal line. Multiple players ran out to Dick Rod to celebrate. Similarly, a lot of players were fired up after Jack Stoll made an over-the-shoulder catch in stride from a beauty of a ball by Flacco thrown up the seam.
• Andre Dillard got knocked on his back by Jeremiah Valoaga in OL vs. DL 1-on-1s. Second day in a row where the Eagles’ 2019 first-round pick got embarrassed by a journeyman who’s played in 13 games over the past four seasons. The Jets don’t even have a picture of Valoaga up on his page on their official website. Dillard has done nothing this summer to earn a spot on the Eagles’ roster. They should really just trade him for whatever they can get at this point.
• Jalen Reagor hasn’t done a whole lot to stand out since his incredible one-handed catch a week ago. Quiet in the preseason game and nothing too noteworthy from full team drills.
• Jordan Howard dropped a would-be touchdown throw from Hurts in the flat.
• Kayode Awosika had a really nice rep to totally stuff his opponent in 1-on-1s. The Eagles would probably like to get the UDFA blocker on their practice squad but they might have to keep him on the roster.
• Sua Opeta gave up immediate pressure to Folorunso Fatukasi, who was in the backfield to instantly stuff Sanders after he received the ball at that mesh point. I don’t think Opeta has done enough to make the team.
• JaCoby Stevens broke up a pass that could’ve been an impressive one-handed interception if his gloves were stickier.
• Matt Leo ended practice by “sacking” James Morgan. Leo won’t count against the Eagles’ roster this year as essentially an extra practice squad member.
• The Eagles bested the Jets in many respects today but one area where New York won was in goal line running situations. The Jets’ defensive line stuffed Miles Sanders on multiple tries. Then Quinnen Williams drove Boston Scott back by himself. Elijah Holyfield couldn’t even drive his way in against the Jets’ backups.
• Post-practice lunch: Had to make a stop at the original Tastee Sub Shop, not too far off Route 1 in Edison, NJ. I worked at the Lawrenceville location for a few years back in high school. That was actually my first job; BGN is my second. Wanted to give a shout out to my old bosses Brian (who I got to see today) and Kyle; they run a great business. Definitely check Tastee’s out if you’re ever in the area or driving to/from MetLife. My favorite order: a No. 4 (pepperoni) with American cheese, lettuce, light oil, salt, black pepper, oregano, mayo, and hot cherry peppers.
Eagles’ top 3 WRs warming up. (DeVonta left, Reagor top, Quez bottom) pic.twitter.com/Ol9z7baG1h— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) August 25, 2021
UP NEXT: That’s a wrap on training camp! Thank you very much for following along here; it’s because of you that I have the opportunity to cover the team that I grew up loving so much. Can’t believe next year will be my 10th camp.
The Eagles have a walkthrough closed to access on Thursday before facing the Jets at MetLife Stadium for the preseason finale on Friday at 7:30 PM.