Today marked the third Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice ahead of the 2022 NFL season. The 90-minute session was the longest day of camp so far. Here’s what I observed at the NovaCare Complex. UPDATE: Day 3 BGN Radio practice recap podcast is live!
• JALEN HURTS STOCK REPORT: On the whole, the defense got the better of the offense for the second straight day. Hurts hasn’t been as good when having to work the entire field ... as opposed to only doing red zone work during the first practice.
Underthrowing the ball was a common issue in today’s practice. During 1-on-1s, Hurts failed to give A.J. Brown a chance to make a play on a ball down the field. The ball was thrown too shallow to where James Bradberry was able to break it up despite trailing and not looking at the pass in the air. In 11-on-11, Bradberry almost picked off Hurts on a throw that didn’t look like it had enough mustard on it. DeVonta Smith should’ve had a catch after running a double move but the ball hung in the air for too long and got broken up instead. Hurts attempted a short throw that wasn’t high enough to escape the range of T.J. Edwards, who broke it up.
Underthrows weren’t the only issue. Hurts made an ill-advised decision to throw against his body and into tight coverage after rolling left. Hurts was picked by Andre Chachere in that instance. Hurts was off target wide to Brown during a 1-on-1 rep. Hurts decided to keep the ball and run straight ahead on a 3rd-and-3 scenario but he was met head on by Javon Hargrave for a loss.
It looked like Hurts overthrew Quez Watkins streaking down the field after running by Darius Slay ... but it’s worth noting that Nick Sirianni criticized Watkins for not running at full speed after the rep.
Hurts did have some good moments, of course. He hit DeVonta right out of the receiver’s break on a a comeback route. The very next play, he connected with an open Dallas Goedert for about a 25-yard gain. Hurts fit a ball to Brown, who was facing tight coverage from Slay, along the right sideline.
Overall, though, the bad outweighed the good.
In fairness to Hurts, it’s not like any of the Eagles’ quarterbacks are looking great. Gardner Minshew has been up-and-down at best. Carson Strong and Reid Sinnett aren’t impressing anybody.
It also bears repeating that Hurts got better as camp went along last year. It’s quite possible he follows the same progression this summer.
That being said, the Eagles are likely hoping to see Hurts make a significant leap. And if he’s merely following last year’s pattern, well, that might be an indicator of more of the same as opposed to a night-and-day difference.
• JALEN HURTS STOCK TRACKER OVERVIEW:
Day 1: Stock even
Day 2: Stock down
Day 3: Stock down
• EAGLES INJURY REPORT: Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce were removed from the injury report.
Zach Pascal and Keric Wheatfall still haven’t practiced yet.
New development: Milton Williams did not practice due to an elbow injury.
John Hightower went down and was curled up in pain before later returning to practice.
Grant Calcaterra was holding his knee/leg after making a catch. The rookie tight end slowly walked off the field with a trainer to get looked at in the medical tent. He then went inside the team’s facility and didn’t return. The Eagles will hope it’s not too serious considering Calcaterra has shown some promise and they’re thin when it comes to tight end depth.
• In what seemed like a response to people (present company included) talking about Miles Sanders running with the second team on Friday, the Eagles gave him the rock on the first 11-on-11 rep today. Sanders broke off a long run and made Marcus Epps look silly by turning him around at the last level of defense.
Make no mistake: Sanders has looked good as a runner in camp. He even had a good catch out of the backfield, which was nice to see considering he’s struggled to positively contribute in the passing game since his rookie season.
The idea that Sanders is being disrespected, as he indicated he believes via his post-practice comments, is a bit much for me. I thought former BGN writer Dan Klausner put it well:
Definitely a good sign to be defensive and insecure when it’s obvious you’re RB1 in the backfield and it’s your job to lose. The media doesn’t matter, don’t spar w/ them. Besides, respect is earned, not given, and Sanders simply hasn’t taken the next step since his rookie season. https://t.co/lLRd7b82m9— Dan (@snaxonly) July 30, 2022
Further, the Eagles’ messaging that it’s common for them to rotate Sanders like they did on Friday isn’t exactly true. As Eliot Shorr-Parks noted, Sanders took ZERO second team carries in last year’s Eagles training camp.
Ultimately, the expectation here is that Sanders will lead the Eagles in carries this year (barring injury). That much should be obvious. It’s fair to wonder, however, the extent to which Sanders will be in a rotation. The deficiencies in his game (see: being a reliable pass catcher) have the potential to limit his snaps in some capacity.
• Bradberry did a good job against A.J. Brown. The former earned a handshake from the latter after the corner had good coverage on him down the field to break up a Hurts pass. Brown had more success against Slay. On multiple reps, Brown used his physicality to beat out the veteran CB. Brown even stiff-armed Slay to the ground after making a catch at one point.
• It had been a quiet camp for DeVonta but he made some good grabs today. One came when he was tightly covered and had to fully extend his arms to snag a ball while also stay in-bounds. He makes good plays look easy.
• Given that he’s entering his age 34 season and he’s coming off an Achilles injury, it’s fair to wonder if Brandon Lee Graham is still effective. If practice is any indication, he still is. It was an active day for BLG with him absolutely cooking Jack Driscoll at right tackle for a would-be sack on Minshew. BLG also exploded into the backfield to blow up a run. He’s still got it.
• Jordan Davis was drawing praise from the coaching staff throughout practice. One of his good reps was when he helped to clog up a Gainwell carry. He also generated some interior pressure on Hurts.
• Quez Watkins was carving up Avonte Maddox in 1-on-1s. The wide receiver has the advantage in these drills, to be sure. But Quez is also a good route-runner.
• We previously mentioned that Hurts was picked off by Andre Chachere. Chachere has already flashed way more often than K’Von Wallace really ever has. The four safeties on this team should be Marcus Epps, Anthony Harris, Jaquiski Tartt, and Chachere.
• A different bottom of the roster cornerback has stood out each day of camp thus far. First it was Kary Vincent Jr. Then it was my guy Mac McCain III yesterday. Today it was former Washington draft pick Jimmy Moreland who was making some things happen. Moreland knocked down a Reid Sinnett throw intended for Britain Covey. Moreland also got his hands on a Carson Strong throw but the ball bounced off them and into the hands of a pass catcher instead (didn’t see who). Keeping Moreland around would give the Eagles more nickel corner depth.
• Gardner Minshew threaded a tight window in the middle of the field to hit Deon Cain. Later, he threw too late to Calcaterra on a curl route and the ball was knocked down. Minshew also had a good throw over the middle to Greg Ward but then held the ball too long and got “sacked” by Josh Sweat.
• Strong had some weak throws this morning. He threw a bad, wobbly pass into coverage with no receiver around and was lucky not to be picked off. Strong threw a ball with not much juice on it right to Christian Elliss for an interception in 7-on-7s. Strong’s best throw was when he aired it out with good touch to Lance Lenoir, who dropped the ball. Early on, Strong seems more like a practice squad candidate than a threat to make the roster.
• With Fletcher Cox not fully participating early in camp, Marlon Tuipulotu has seen some first team defensive tackle reps. He did a nice job of blowing up a screen in the backfield today.
• Prior to practice, Sirianni talked about how Jalen Reagor is “battling for a spot.” Given his previous struggles, that’s how it should be. I have a hard time believing the Eagles are going to cut him given how doing so would actually cause them to lose $2.4 million in cap space. But he’s just not one of the best 53 dudes on this 90-player training camp roster. Reagor did have a good 1-on-1 rep today where he cooked Zech McPhearson for a deep catch. But it’s hard to make too much of that when Reagor was at his best in 1-on-1s last summer. He’s always been much less effective or invisible (at best) in team drills.
• It continues to be a quiet offseason for Nakobe Dean. Haven’t seen much from him in OTAs or camp thus far.
• Kick returners during special teams drills: Jason Huntley (my guy, who was first up), Devon Allen, Britain Covey, and John Hightower. Pascal wasn’t practicing but he was hanging out with the KR guys; he has experience doing that from earlier in his career.
• Huntley had a nice catch on a wheel route in 7-on-7s.
• Covey had a nice 1-on-1 rep where he used his shiftiness to get open.
Britain Covey talking about the challenges of being a smaller player. He joked that one of the kids at Eagles training camp thought he was a kicker. pic.twitter.com/2f2rmPJ0wj— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) July 30, 2022
• Recently promoted Eagles defensive passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson spoke at the podium after practice today. Impressive/inspiring guy. Not hard to imagine him replacing Jonathan Gannon when he’s no longer the Eagles’ defensive coordinator.
• Big shout out to Holden Blanco, who did a great job of taking pictures for BGN during Friday’s practice. He did a great job of getting shots that we’ll be using for articles here. Also planning to post a gallery of his best ones on Sunday.
• Today in Jimmy Kempski’s daily training camp interview series for BGN Radio: Bo Wulf.
UP NEXT: The Eagles have off on Sunday before returning to practice at 10:00 AM Eastern on Monday.