Now that the Philadelphia Eagles are through their second block of training camp practices, let’s assess the biggest winners and losers so far.
I like what I’ve seen out of Sirianni thus far. I appreciate how he’s not afraid to light fires under players who might very well benefit from some tough love (Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham). The emphasis on player development is apparent. As is his effort to keep injuries down by sticking to shorter training camp practices. Of course, none of this means much if we find out he can’t actually coach a lick when the real games start. That’s the true test. So far, though, so good.
If the Eagles didn’t sign Steve Nelson, ZMP would be the clear favorite to start at cornerback across from Darius Slay. The rookie fourth-round pick made a lot of plays on the ball this week. He also had some good reps as a run defender. I can’t recall any reps where he got beat really badly. ZMP currently projects as the top backup on the outside behind Nelson and Darius Slay. He has college experience playing in the slot but the thinking here is that Josiah Scott will be the top backup behind Avonte Maddox in that role. But even if he doesn’t contribute much this year, ZMP could be a future starter. He’s having the best training camp by an Eagles rookie DB since Jalen Mills in 2016.
With Andre Dillard struggling, he could’ve won the left tackle competition by default. But that’s not the case. Mailata proved he deserves the starting job on his own merits.
Sweaty continues to show up every day. Looking real disruptive out there.
Sweat’s good summer has overshadowed what’s also been a good camp for Barnett. I don’t know if he’s getting double-digit sacks but I could very well see Barnett having a career year.
I don’t know if he’ll make the roster. But he consistently flashes at least once in every practice. He’s making a case to be DT3 behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave.
Been impressed with Watkins’ sharp route-running. It looks like he made a big leap from Year 1 to Year 2 in that regard. Quez is also pretty fast and he’s able to make some tough catches. I don’t expect him to steal a starting job but he deserves some snaps as a role-player WR4.
Huntley should make the Eagles’ roster. He’s really dangerous when he finds daylight; he absolutely flies to the end zone. And, though it doesn’t matter a ton, he’s clearly their best option at kick returner.
He lost the left tackle battle and he might not even be justifying a spot on the 53-man roster. I’ve never seen an offensive lineman (who wasn’t an obvious camp body) get beat as badly as Dillard does when he loses reps.
I really want to believe in Sanders. I really liked what I saw out of him as a rookie and I think he has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to working to improve. But his extra effort has been in vain thus far since he’s still had issues with drops and fumbles. I fully expect Sanders to be a dynamic, home-run threat in the run game. But the flaws could prevent him from being one of the NFL’s very best all-around running backs.
We had Taylor in our ‘winners’ section after the first set of practices. But he suffered a calf injury that has him described as “week-to-week.” Taylor missing reps is costly given his lack of football experience. He might’ve blown his chance to begin the season as a starter. And if he’s not playing in the regular season, that only hinders his long-term development.
I wrote this about Mullens on Sunday: “He’s arguably been the best passer early on in Eagles training camp.” And it was true at the time. Since then, though, Mullens has struggled. He’s still been pretty solid as far as QB3 standards go. He’s certainly better than the likes of Clayton Thorson and Matt McGloin. But I don’t see him pushing for the QB2 spot at his current pace. Could be bound for the practice squad instead.
MICHAEL JACQUET III
MJ3 was the first team CB2 back in OTAs before the Eagles signed Nelson. He was also the first CB off the bench when Slay had his first veteran rest day last week. He’s since been leapfrogged on the depth chart by McPhearson. Jacquet has been flagged on multiple occasions, often for being too grabby.
Butler’s size might be intriguing but his game is not. One of the most invisible players in camp. He’s in jeopardy of being waived in the first round of cuts (though the Eagles are light at WR, so maybe not). Speaking of, as a reminder:
Tuesday, August 17 — Cut down from 90 to 85 players
Tuesday, August 24 — Cut down from 85 to 80 players
Tuesday, August 31 — Cut down from 80 to 53 players
Walker was always a long-shot to make the roster but his chances are looking even slimmer as he misses time with a foot injury.
I DONT KNOWS
On the bright side, he had his best Eagles training camp practice on Thursday. That one-handed catch he made? That was awesome. It was the play of camp. On the dark side, Reagor hadn’t stood out much at all to that point. And he still made a number of mistakes on his best day. Perhaps Reagor can use Thursday’s practice to springboard himself into a run where he’s stacking good days in a row. That’s what we need to see next.
I can’t say he’s looked good on the whole but Flacco has had some good moments after getting off to a real rough start in camp. The former Super Bowl MVP has made some #elite throws on the run and he’s demonstrated that he has the best arm strength on the team. Really been able to zip the ball in there at times. At the moment, he’s looking more worthy of the QB2 spot. Still not worth $3.5 million guaranteed! :)
The rookie linebacker stood out for the first time in camp on Wednesday. He picked off Jalen Hurts (though the ball was thrown right at him) and helped to blow up a running play. Stevens also impressed in his post-practice presser. But then we found out he’s “week-to-week” with a hamstring injury. Not great.
Hightower owned “The Catch of Camp” title before Reagor took it away from him on Thursday. The 2020 fifth-round pick made a real nice leaping contested catch along the sideline despite tight coverage from ZMP on Wednesday. Outside of that, though, haven’t a seen a whole lot out of Hightower.
BONUS: NON-EAGLES RELATED LOSERS
I mean, “Coach” isn’t even in his official job title. He’s the Giants’ offensive coordinator. I’d love to see Giants media members start calling him “coordinator.” Or just keep sticking to “Jason.”
Jason Garrett just told us to call him coach as he walked off the podium. He said good to see you guys. We said good to see you in person, Jason.— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) August 5, 2021
“We say, ‘Good to see you, Coach.’ That’s how we do it.”
Oh yeah?#Giants pic.twitter.com/m5aCxYyQao