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Eagles Training Camp Notes: Quez Watkins turns in a strong practice

Observations from the NovaCare Complex.

Syndication: Wilmington News Journal Justin Robertson / USA TODAY NETWORK

Today marked the third Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice ahead of the 2023 season. Here’s what I observed at the NovaCare Complex. NOTE: Stay tuned for today’s BGN Radio practice recap podcast that will be embedded directly below once the episode goes live.


JALEN HURTS WATCH: Hurts had a great practice; he was consistently sharp out there. Hurts is up to three days without throwing an interception. And this while picking his spots to be aggressive, not just playing it safe. Case in point: Hurts fit a ball into a tight window to Quez Watkins between Zach McPhearson, trailing closely behind, and Reed Blankenship, who was in good position over the top. The defenders simply got beat by a better throw. Hurts also connected with a wide open DeVonta Smith for a touchdown on a busted coverage. And then again with a tip-toeing DeVonta along the right sideline. He also had a perfect throw to A.J. Brown along the right sideline to take advantage of a soft spot in zone coverage. There was nary a single negative note about Hurts in my notes.

• Additional Hurts note: the Eagles ran a lot of designed QB runs today and they looked pretty effective. It certainly helps that no one can touch him ... but he often took off running into areas where no defenders were immediately present. The frequency of these plays should serve as a reminder that the Eagles aren’t going away from using Hurts’ legs despite the fact they paid him a ton of money.

EAGLES INJURY REPORT: Haason Reddick was upgraded to limited participation after sitting out the first two practices. Avonte Maddox and Derek Barnett are still limited. Devon Allen is still on the NFI list.

• Today may have been Quez Watkins’ best practice since being drafted by the team in 2020. Watkins was able to track the ball and make the catch on the aforementioned tight window throw by Hurts that split McPhearson and Blankenship. He also made an impressive leaping catch along the right sideline while being tightly covered by McPhearson, who then gave a good effort to strip the ball away as the two were going to the ground. Quez managed to hold on. Watkins had some positive reps in 1-on-1s and he also generally saw more volume than he typically gets.

I will say that it’s not like Watkins has previously struggled in practice settings. He had a good camp last year before making some really big mistakes in the real games. So, you have to take these practice reps for what they’re worth, but it’s obviously still preferable to Quez looking worse off. And a day like today only strengthens his status as the third wide receiver.

• Cam Jurgens was the starting right guard for the third straight practice. I tried to watch him a little bit more today. I don’t want to make too much of one rep but I did see Jeff Stoutland yelling out to him after a rep where the guy he was blocking (Marlon Tuipulotu) ended up making a tackle for no gain.

• Pre-snap penalties have been an issue for Tyler Steen early in camp. He got hit with another false start today.

• Still waiting for the first Nakobe Dean flashy practice moment since the team drafted him.

• Jordan Davis flashed his freak athleticism when he got out in space to blow up a screen play. Good recognition and execution to be in position for the tackle for loss. After the play, Davis showed some swagger with a little ‘You really expected this to work?’ gesture.

• Defensive depth chart notes: K’Von Wallace replaced Terrell Edmunds as a first-team safety next to Reed Blankenship. Christian Elliss rotated with Nicholas Morrow as the first-team linebacker next to Nakobe Dean. Elliss had good coverage on Kenneth Gainwell in the slot on one rep that helped forced an incompletion. Morrow, meanwhile, should’ve been called for pass interference on a big play he still surrendered down the left sideline.

• Speaking of that play of the day contender, it was Hurts who floated a ball to D’Andre Swift on a wheel route with Morrow trailing. Kudos to Swift for having the focus to still make the play despite being tripped up. Swift’s been a frequent target early in camp but this was the biggest impact play he’s made thus far.

• DeVonta Smith made a bunch of good catches. Ho hum.

• A.J. Brown absolutely routed up Darius Slay in 1-on-1 for an easy catch. That drew some “oooooh’s” from the Eagles fans attending practice.

• Change to the second-team offensive line: Jack Driscoll was at left tackle with Dennis Kelly moving over to right tackle. Kelly had replaced Roderick Johnson as the second-team LT on Day 2. Interesting to see the Eagles flip these guys. Driscoll had some struggles playing out wide; he got beat badly by Josh Sweat at one point. Driscoll did managed to stifle a less threatening challenger in Janarius Robinson.

• Brett Toth has been having issues with shotgun snaps. Marcus Mariota has had to pick the ball off of the ground more than a couple times.

• Mariota was bad on Day 1, good on Day 2, and then closer to bad again on Day 3. He threw a pass that got pick-six’d by James Bradberry.

• Milton Williams did a nice job of generating pressure. He has a pretty good motor with how he hustles out there.

• Kyron Johnson had a nice sack going up against the third-team right tackle.

• Tough practice for UDFA cornerback Mekhi Garner. He gave up multiple catches in 1-on-1 and he failed to intercept a ball that Ian Book threw right at him.

• Tanner McKee is on a trajectory to make the team as a developmental third quarterback. He’s showing signs of promise, such as when he threw into a very tight window over the middle to Joseph Ngata (but the receiver couldn’t hold on). He’s also able to get the ball out with a quick release.

• Ngata absolutely Moss’d Kelee Ringo down the left sideline. A really good catch, to be clear, but you’d typically hope that Ringo’s size would allow him to break up those plays more than the average corner. Ringo would’ve allowed another big play had Deon Cain not dropped a pass down the field. The rookie defender also gave up a catch underneath to Charleston Rambo. Ringo has intriguing potential but there’s no indication he’s currently ready to be the top backup behind Darius Slay or James Bradberry.

• 8 of the 10 non-kicker players on the first-team kickoff coverage unit (missed the other two, sorry): Zech McPhearson, Kyron Johnson, Patrick Johnson, Olamide Zaccheaus, Shaun Bradley, Christian Elliss, Mario Goodrich, Greedy Williams. Something to keep in mind as it relates to the roster bubble.

• New wrinkle to practice: the entire defense had to do a gasser after losing to the offense in a team drill.

UP NEXT: The Eagles are holding a walkthrough closed to media on Monday. The next practice begins on Tuesday, August 1 at 10:00 AM Eastern. We’ll also hear from offensive coordinator Brian Johnson for the first time this summer around 9:40 AM.

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