The Eagles tried out two new punt returners on Friday: Jason Peters and Fletcher Cox.
Toward the end of Friday's light 10/10/10 practice, head coach Doug Pederson sent Peters and Cox back to field two punts. Peters represented the offense and Cox represented the defense.
What were the stakes?
"I don't know if I'm supposed to discuss those things," Carson Wentz said.
First, Peters needed to go to a knee to catch his ball, but he reeled it in. He estimated it was the first time he fielded a punt in over 10 years.
Then, the pressure was on Cox.
"Nah, there wasn't no pressure," Cox said. "No pressure at all. Just had to relax and catch the ball."
And he did. Thanks to Peters and Cox, the Eagles will get out of meetings earlier on Friday, heading into the off day on Saturday.
A little earlier in practice, Pederson gathered the entire team around kicker Caleb Sturgis as he tried two 55-yard field goals. The stakes for that one were to extend team curfew. Maybe the pressure got to the kicker. He clanked the first off the right upright and sailed the second one wide right.
"It makes it fun," Cox said. "It makes guys want to be here and be a part of what we're doing. At the same time, we have to work. The last three days have been a grind, with two of those days take-down-to-the-ground days. And yesterday was really a long grind day. I think it was the longest practice we've had with the muggy weather. It was good for us."
"That's what I love about Coach Pederson," Wentz said. "He's a former player, so he kind of knows the dog days of camp, knows how to break up the monotony a little bit. That was cool today and I'm thankful JP made that catch. That's what Coach Pederson brings: the happy balance of work and keeping it light at times for the players."
Cox said he never questioned whether or not he would catch the punt. "I'm an athlete," he said. "You know that."
Although, Darren Sproles' job is likely safe.
"It was really good to see the athleticism," Pederson said. "Maybe if we get in a pinch, we'll stick them back there."
Jeffery misses practice again
While LeGarrette Blount returned to the team after missing three days for personal reasons, Alshon Jeffery missed his fourth straight day of practice on Friday.
A shoulder injury has kept Jeffery out of practice this week, but Pederson said Jeffery is past the injury and Friday was just a rest day. He hasn't yet decided if Jeffery will play in the first preseason game in Green Bay next Thursday.
"It's just a matter of keeping him rested," Pederson said. "We're not playing a game. I've seen a lot from him, probably more so than you guys have seen. I'm comfortable with where he's at in our offense. We're going to make sure he's healthy going into the season."
Jeffery hasn't practiced since Sunday. He missed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week, which meant he missed the two days that featured tackling to the ground.
Has Wentz had enough time to work with his new weapon?
"I think the first week of training camp with Alshon, the throwing in Fargo, the spring stuff," Wentz said. "Obviously, I wish he would have been out there, but things happen. I'm excited to get him back, hopefully as soon as possible."
Nick Foles (elbow), Paul Turner (shoulder), Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), Chris Long (rest), Josh Andrews (hand), Adam Zaruba (concussion) and Mychal Kendricks (groin) also missed practice.
Corner or safety?
Veteran defensive back Corey Graham didn't make it to Philly in time to practice on Friday, the day after he agreed to terms of a one-year deal.
When the Eagles announced the deal, they listed Graham as a safety, which is important to note. While Graham has played safety for the past two seasons, he has played cornerback in the past. He actually played cornerback for Jim Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014.
On Friday, Pederson said the Eagles will start the 32-year-old out as a safety but didn't rule out the possibility of his playing corner.
"We've got to see," Pederson said. "It's been three years since he played (corner). We've got to see that when he gets here."
The Eagles are clearly in more desperate need of cornerbacks than safeties.
Next open practice
The Eagles will be back at practice on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Practice starts at 10:05 a.m.
It's free to come out and watch (parking is free too). Seats are first-come, first-serve.