Today marked the ninth 2021 Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice. Here’s what I observed! UPDATE: Today’s BGN Radio podcast practice recap is up.
• The Eagles were back in pads today.
• JALEN HURTS UPDATE: Rough day for Hurts and the offense as a whole. They were out of sorts. My BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski, who has been covering Eagles training camps for over 10 years, said it was one of the worst offensive practices he’s ever seen.
There was a period in 11-on-11 where Hurts didn’t even complete a pass on five straight attempts. The ball hit the ground way too often. A few passes were knocked down. Another was nearly picked after being thrown into double coverage. Hurts did get picked by Eric Wilson along the sideline on a play that would’ve really been dead anyway since pressure had gotten to him but everyone kept playing. Just forced things on that rep.
To my eye, Hurts has been guilty of holding on to the ball for way too long. It’s not necessarily like wide receivers were running wide open all over the place but I’m also not really seeing Hurts throw his receivers open.
It wasn’t all bad for Hurts. He did have a good throw over the middle to Zach Ertz, making sure to fit the ball high enough over the linebacker underneath. His best throw was to Travis Fulgham on a corner route; the ball was on the receiver as he was ready to look back coming out of his break.
On the whole, Hurts just isn’t having the camp I imagine the Eagles would’ve ideally liked to see from him. He’s done nothing to dissuade the team from looking for an eventual upgrade.
Now, this isn’t to say things can’t change. In the words of Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice. But practice isn’t necessarily irrelevant. I wrote here on a daily basis last year that Carson Wentz wasn’t looking good; he was especially struggling with accuracy. Sure enough, those issues carried over into the regular season.
Maybe things will be different for Hurts. He’ll certainly get the chance to showcase his running ability in the games more than he can in practice settings. Even if he improves from camp, though, there’s still a large gap to bridge to becoming an indisputable franchise quarterback. Based on what we’ve seen so far, there are doubts about him doing just that.
• EAGLES INJURY NEWS: The most significant injury update is that John Hightower (groin) is week-to-week. Not a good development for a player on the roster bubble.
Genard Avery (groin), Shaun Bradley (illness), Grayland Arnold (hamstring), and Obi Melifonwu (hamstring) are new additions to the list. They’re all listed as day-to-day.
Michael Walker (foot) was back at practice, though as a limited participant.
• DEPTH CHART NOTES - OFFENSE: Sua Opeta saw first team left guard reps in place of Nate Herbig, who has been filling in for Isaac Seumalo. Jack Driscoll was also in at first team right guard instead of Matt Pryor. Herbig was the second team center. Interesting tweaks.
• On the flip side of the Eagles’ offensive struggles, the defense really balled out. They generated a lot of pressure and made a lot of plays on the ball. At this pace, there’s potential for Jonathan Gannon’s side of the ball to be a top 15 unit. Maybe even back end of the top 10? Unless their success is really just a function of the offensive struggles, which I don’t believe to be true.
• Although the defense clearly won the day, the Eagles’ offense was fired up after the final play of practice when Nick Mullens hit Jason Huntley for an over-the-shoulder grab for a first down. Multiple players and even coaches (Stoutland included) came up to pat Huntley on the head. Clearly, there were some stakes behind that reception.
• Josh Sweat, one of the biggest winners of camp, got off to a fast start today. He beat Andre Dillard cleanly around the edge to “sack” Hurts. A few plays later, he came bursting through the middle of the line (looked like a stunt) for another “sack.” Sweat’s presence also may have been responsible for causing Jordan Mailata to false start at one point. Sweat could be in line to have a very big season.
• Mailata had a good rep against Sweat in 1-on-1 that earned him a fist bump from Jeff Stoutland. The Australian kept Sweat at bay with good positioning as the edge rusher tried to go wide and turn the corner. Mailata also used his long arms to shove Sweat into the ground.
• Stoutland also had some effusive praise for Mailata after an OL drill. Not the same case for Dillard.
• Derek Barnett drove Dillard back into Hurts at one point. Also a “sack” later on in practice.
• Anthony Harris had a nice diving pass breakup on a short Hurts throw to Dallas Goedert.
• Alex Singleton nearly came up with a pick in his first day back at training camp after being activated from the COVID-19 list. It was him and Wilson up as the first team linebackers.
• Seemed like Miles Sanders may have fumbled again today? It wasn’t exactly clear if the play was already over when he lost control. I did hear Eagles running backs coach Jemal Singleton yell something at him.
• WR vs. DB 1-on-1 notes: Travis Fulgham got separation from Steve Nelson on a curl but dropped the pass that was thrown right to his hands. Nelson had respectable coverage on a downfield throw to Fulgham, who laid out for the diving catch but couldn’t make the play. Would like to see fewer drops from No. 13. Quez Watkins made a catch despite clearly having his jersey pulled by Zach McPhearson. Joe Flacco floated a deep ball to Adrian Killins, who caught it in stride after toasting Avonte Maddox. Flacco followed that up with a clear overthrow intended for Greg Ward.
• Kerryon Johnson had a bad drop in the flat.
• T.Y. McGill had his daily sack up the middle.
• Tyree Jackson failed to catch a deep pass from Flacco. The converted tight end was open and laid out for it but couldn’t make the grab as Andrew Adams was also there to disrupt a potential catch.
• Nick Mullens threw a real bad pick to Lavert Hill, who you might not even realize is on the team. Put the ball way too inside on an out route, made it easy for the corner to get a pick six.
• Darius Slay and Nelson were working on releases together while most of the rest of the team was focused on special teams. Seems like they already have a bond.
• Jack Stoll got open over the middle a couple of times for some nice grabs. Most noticeable the undrafted rookie free agent tight end has been in camp.
• Hakeem Butler also had his best day, though that’s not really saying much.
• Had to get a Rita’s Water Ice (sic) to cool down since it was so hot and sunny at practice. Went with Swedish Fish, which is their second-best flavor behind Sour Patch Kids red. Mango and lemon are interchangeable for me as second and third. Blueberry is last.
UP NEXT: The first of two Eagles practices open to the public at Lincoln Financial Field this summer starts tomorrow at 7:00 PM ET. Tickets are still available; they’re $10 and all proceeds go to the Eagles Autism Foundation. Parking is free.