Today marked the ninth Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice ahead of the 2023 season. Here’s what I observed while the team practiced at Lincoln Financial Field. UPDATE: Today’s BGN Radio practice recap podcast is live! Listen below or CLICK HERE.
EAGLES PRACTICE NOTES
• JALEN HURTS WATCH: Hurts did not look very sharp in this practice.
A deep throw down the left sideline intended for Olamide Zaccheaus was off target. Hurts targeting Quez Watkins on a comeback route resulted in Josh Jobe knocking the ball down. Hurts threw off his back foot while being “pressured” and the ball was well short of D’Andre Swift, who was running a wheel route. Hurts threw too wide of an open Dallas Goedert in the flat while moving to his left. Hurts had a potential pick six dropped by Justin Evans with the safety unable to hold on to a throw meant for a target in the front left corner of the end zone.
Hurts did finish practice on a high note by completing a deep ball to A.J. Brown down the right sideline. He dropped the ball in the bucket with Kelee Ringo trailing in coverage. That was impressive.
But there’s been more bad than good for Hurts and, by extension, the offense as a whole recently.
So ... major cause for concern? Not quite. Some of Hurts’ best skills translate better to real game action than practice reps. I don’t think he absolutely crushed camp last year and some of his biggest believers who were in attendance do not disagree with that assessment.
Still, it’d be nice to see him stack some good days like he was doing earlier in camp. The upcoming joint training camp practices against the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts will be big in that regard.
• EAGLES INJURY REPORT: DeVonta Smith was excused from practice due to “personal reasons.”
Nakobe Dean (ankle) returned to practice in a limited capacity. He did not participate in team drills, which means he’s missed them in five out of nine practices thus far. Perhaps he’ll be fully back on Thursday?
James Bradberry (groin) was a full participant after returning to practice in a limited capacity on Tuesday.
Devon Allen (calf) was limited again; he’s still not doing team drills.
Patrick Johnson (ankle) missed his third straight practice after getting carted off on Friday.
Deon Cain (ankle) missed his sixth straight practice.
• IT’S ALWAYS HIM: Derek Barnett and Landon Dickerson almost got into a fight. I couldn’t see the skirmish as well as others from my vantage point, so, here’s the situation:
Cheap shot from Derek Barnett on Landon Dickerson after a WR screen to Brown.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 9, 2023
Dickerson knocked Barnett down on a bit of a blind side block during play. Barnett retaliated, shoving Dickerson to the ground from behind.
RE: Derek Barnett-Landon Dickerson mini-scuffle at practice. Pretty much started by Dickerson with his blindside block. One defensive player called it “cheap.”— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) August 9, 2023
Barnett retaliated. Dickerson didn’t budge much when pushed and just stood there. Ended quickly when others jumped in.
Even if Barnett had legitimate reason to be frustrated, this just isn’t a good look for a player who has a reputation for committing avoidable penalties. How can you possibly trust this guy to be on the field and not do something dumb that hurts the team?
I don’t think Barnett has had a very good camp. He hasn’t stood out in team drills. The only time I’ve noticed him in 1-on-1s is when he’s been getting shoved into the ground by Jordan Mailata.
It’s hard for me to believe Barnett is deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster. The Eagles should be looking to get anything they can get for him in a trade like they did with Jalen Reagor, another first-round disappointment, last year.
• I noticed a moment in practice where the defense looked a bit disorganized in terms of who was supposed to be on the field. Tim McManus was able to add more context from his vantage point:
Observations from Eagles practice:— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 9, 2023
There were lags in communication on D, including an instance where general manager Howie Roseman felt compelled to alert Desai that the situation called for his second-team unit to be on the field where instead the first team was deployed.
The general manager feeling the need to hold the defensive coordinator’s hand is not really something you want to see?
For clarification, a call was made by an assistant for the second-team D to be on the field, Desai didn’t hear it, so Roseman got Desai’s attention to get it corrected.— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) August 9, 2023
This is not about Roseman interfering, but an example of how communication on D isn’t all the way buttoned up. https://t.co/wApOVcD91z
• The Eagles opened team drills with an 11-on-11 red zone period. They were using a good deal of five-man fronts that looked like this from left to right: Haason Reddick, Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, Milton Williams, Josh Sweat.
• Christian Elliss was the sole linebacker with the Eagles using five-man fronts paired with their nickel package.
• For the second day in a row, Myles Jack rotated in with the first-team defense while Zach Cunningham rotated in with the second-team defense. I thought the Eagles might flip those guys but that wasn’t the case. Cunningham flashed with a pass breakup on a throw meant for Grant Calcaterra.
• With DeVonta out, Olamide Zaccheaus was able to take more first-team reps than usual.
• Marcus Mariota had another good practice! The second-team center change from Brett Toth, who simply could not snap effectively, to Josh Andrews seems to be helping him. Mariota showed great touch on a deep ball down the left sideline to Britain Covey with Zech McPhearson trailing in coverage. Play of the day worthy. Mariota made good tight window throws over the middle to Jack Stoll and Covey while also connecting with Joseph Ngata on an out route.
• Still don’t fully know what to make of the Eagles’ running back situation. There are those who will say D’Andre Swift is the guy. Others believe it’s Kenneth Gainwell. I feel like Rashaad Penny has looked like the best pure runner in camp. Boston Scott belongs on the roster. Nick Sirianni likes talking about Trey Sermon.
• Josh Sweat absolutely murdered Fred Johnson to sack Mariota. As he should.
• Nolan Smith drove second-team right tackle Jack Driscoll back into Mariota to effect the quarterback. Smith is having an encouraging camp.
• Driscoll is not having an encouraging camp. Earlier in practice, Driscoll gave up a would-be sack to Brandon Graham. I think the Eagles would be best served to have Tyler Steen as the backup left tackle (he’s looked good there) and Dennis Kelly, not Driscoll, as the backup right tackle. Kelly’s looked better than Driscoll has.
• Dennis Kelly changed his number from No. 72 to No. 79. The latter was previously worn by the recently released Chim Okorafor.
• Didn’t love the comeback route from Quez Watkins on the rep where Josh Jobe broke up the ball meant for him. Not as crisp as it needed to be. Jobe was able to disrupt Watkins with physicality ... and we saw that be an issue for Quez in last year’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
• Tanner McKee is able to throw accurately with a fast release. The rookie quarterback threw a touchdown pass to Johnny King on a quick slant.
• It hasn’t been a very active camp for Justin Evans but he was noticeable today with the dropped pick on Hurts and a pass breakup on a short target meant for Britain Covey.
• There have been multiple times in camp where K’Von Wallace has seemingly been out of position on Hurts runs that turn into touchdowns.
• A rare Greedy Williams note! He shoved Joseph Ngata back into Greg Ward to help blow up a screen play.
• A rare positive Arryn Siposs note! He booted a 60+ yard punt with 4.66 seconds of hang time (h/t Jimmy Kempski) that bounced just short of the end zone and landed within the 5-yard line. Nice job by him.
• Josh Sills was flagged for a false start.
UP NEXT: The Eagles practice again tomorrow morning starting at 10:00 AM Eastern. It’ll be the third of three straight practices this week.