Eagles

Eagles training camp Day 16 observations: Catch of the Summer

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Eagles training camp Day 16 observations: Catch of the Summer

After a cloudy day to start the weekend, the Eagles were under the hot sun Sunday.

The Eagles will have two more practices before Wednesday's walk-through and Thursday's game against the Bills at home.

Observation time:

1. *Clears throat* injuries: Add Fletcher Cox to the injury report. The Eagles' superstar defensive tackle missed practice Sunday with back spasms. He didn't even come out to the field.

Nick Foles (elbow), Bryce Treggs (sore legs), Paul Turner (shoulder), Wendell Smallwood (hamstring), Ron Brooks (hamstring), Josh Andrews (hand), Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), Brandon Brooks (ankle) and Anthony Denham (calf) all missed practice again.

Offensive tackle Dillon Gordon (hand) missed the beginning of the day but returned later and even participated in team drills.

2. New cornerback Ronald Darby took the field for the first time with the Eagles on Sunday. He was a spectator at practice Saturday because Jordan Matthews hadn't yet taken his physical in Buffalo so the trade wasn't complete.

The Eagles didn't waste time throwing Darby right into the mix (see story). He worked with the first unit during group install and again in 11-on-11s. He was on his normal left side as the team let him compete in man coverage. He looked good.

In 11-on-11s, Nelson Agholor made a great catch in front of him but Darby had good coverage. In 7-on-7s, he went up against Alshon Jeffery. The two got tangled and Jeffery came down with the ball. Still, Darby looked good. He even showed that closing speed earlier in the day when he was covering Mack Hollins on a dig route.

3. Trey Burton made the catch of training camp during an 11-on-11 period. Matt McGloin's pass was deflected by Mychal Kendricks, but somehow Burton made a spinning, left-handed catch as he was moving away from the ball. It drew some gasps from his teammates and the fans in attendance. It also drew a look of "are you kidding me?" from a grimacing Kendricks.

"It was luck, bro," Burton said. "Just threw my hand out there."

It was a little more than luck. Great concentration from Burton, who could have a big role in the offense this season.

4. Jim Schwartz used a bunch of combinations at corner on Sunday. Darby and Jalen Mills began the day as the starters with Aaron Grymes in the slot. Then Patrick Robinson had some time in the slot before moving outside. Then Malcolm Jenkins went into the slot and Corey Graham came in to replace him at safety. Without Ron Brooks, who is the top slot corner, Schwartz is moving guys around trying to find the best combination.

5. During a 1-on-1 drill, Kendricks was roasted by Darren Sproles. Really, it was unfair. Sproles pulled a super quick double move and put about five yards of separation between him and Kendricks as he ran down the sideline and caught the pass that was lofted in.

6. Overall, the defense won the day. That happens sometimes during training camp. One side of the ball just clearly outperforms the other. A part of that was that Carson Wentz wasn't very sharp for the second day in a row. Not anything to worry about, but that's just the truth. And after that, the team has McGloin and Dane Evans. By the way, Evans has been the better of the two.

7. Corey Clement blocked Joe Walker during a blocking drill and Duce Staley was pumped. He jumped into the air to chest bump Clement in celebration. Often pass protection is what keeps rookies off football teams and off the field. At least Clement is willing. In those same drills, LeGarrette Blount couldn't stop Kendricks, who blew past him.

8. In offensive line vs. defensive line drills, Chance Warmack struggled to block Justin Hamilton and Gabe Wright. That's not a good sign, especially after Warmack didn't have a very good game in the preseason opener. Warmack has been getting a lot of coaching from O-line coach Jeff Stoutland. Right now, Warmack is the starting right guard while Brooks deals with his ankle injury, but it's fair to wonder if the team wouldn't be better with Stefen Wisniewski in there.

9. In those same 1-on-1 drills, Tim Jernigan pulled off a lightning-quick inside spin move. For some guys, that same spin move seems to take forever and they expose their backs to the offensive lineman for too long. Then, that move can end in disaster. But with Jernigan, it happens so quickly, the lineman can't react fast enough.

10. Even after cutting Marcus Smith a while back, the Eagles have some decent depth at defensive end. Recently, last year's seventh-round pick Alex McCalister has been playing better and Steven Means has been consistent too. The team goes six deep at end: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Chris Long, Derek Barnett, McCalister and Means. As McCalister comes on, the coaching staff might have a tough decision when it's time to cut down to 53 players.

Stupid Observation of the Day: Walker shaved his beard and is probably about five pounds lighter because of it. He no longer looks like football Jesus.

Weekly meetings helping Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz get on same page

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Weekly meetings helping Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz get on same page

It doesn't seem like such a big deal at first. The head coach and quarterback get together and talk? 

So what?
 
Doug Pederson said Saturday it is a big deal and said his wide-ranging weekly 1-on-1 shoot-the-bull sessions with Carson Wentz have become an important part of Wentz's success as a quarterback, Pederson's success as a coach and the Eagles' success as a team.
 
Pederson said before practice Saturday morning that every Thursday night -- or Friday night the week of a Monday night game -- once most people have left the NovaCare Complex, he and Wentz sit down and just talk.
 
"We kind of talk about a lot of things," he said. "A little bit about football and a little bit about life."
 
The Eagles are 5-1 going into their huge Monday night showdown with the Redskins at the Linc, and Wentz and Pederson, both in their second year, are both enjoying considerable acclaim. 

Wentz, with 13 touchdown passes and three interceptions, is having an MVP type of season so far, and Pederson is an early favorite for Coach of the Year.
 
They're clearly on the proverbial same page, and Pederson said something as simple as a weekly brainstorming session with nobody else around is a key part of that success.
 
“I think it’s important for myself as a play caller and (Carson as) a quarterback that we kind of get on the same page," Pederson said.
 
"I want to hear his thoughts from the week of practice and he wants to hear my thoughts. We spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes talking football and the rest of it is we’re talking deer hunting stories. He loves to deer hunt and all that and I do too. I talk about my days in Green Bay with Brett.
 
"It’s just that time where he and I can just sort of take a deep breath and exhale and really kind of get on the same page going into the game basically. I think it’s important we continue to do that."
 
Pederson said he and Wentz met individually occasionally last year and earlier this year, but in recent weeks the Thursday night sessions have become a regular and important part of his and Wentz's regular routine.
 
Obviously, the head coach and quarterback meet all the time, but Pederson said these sessions are a unique opportunity because it's late in the week, it's just the two of them and the conversations aren't just limited to football.
 
“Andy (Reid) would do it during the week, not necessarily 1-on-1 at night or anything like that, but he would pull Alex (Smith) aside during the day," Pederson said.
 
"I know back when Donovan (McNabb) was here, even then he would have conversations with him. Marty Mornhinweg would do it with Michael Vick.
 
"I’ve been around coordinators or play callers who have done that with the quarterback. I just think it’s important that that line of communication is open, the dialogue is there and I want to make sure he and I are seeing the same things going into those games."

Eagles Injury Update: Hicks, Kendricks should be OK; Darby questionable

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Eagles Injury Update: Hicks, Kendricks should be OK; Darby questionable

It's still unclear whether or not the Eagles will have Ronald Darby for Monday night's game, but at least they'll have their linebackers. 

Both Jordan Hicks (calf) and Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) will be OK to play against Washington on Monday night, head coach Doug Pederson said. 

"Both of them will practice today," Pederson said on Saturday morning. "They're both doing well. Just to get a couple extra days of rest. And Mychal has actually practiced all week. Jordan's been the one we've kept out. Both of them will go today and we'll get a better understanding of where they're at but they'll be fine for the game."

Hicks, Kendricks and Darby were the only three Eagles who were limited in Friday's practice. 

Darby (ankle) will be listed as questionable for the game, but earlier in the week Pederson said "stars have to align" for the cornerback to play this week. The 49ers game on Oct. 29 is probably more likely. 

Darby, who dislocated his right ankle in Week 1, returned to practice for the first time this week. 

"[Darby has] looked well. It's just day by day with him," Pederson said. "We'll get through today's practice with him. Obviously, have limited his reps during practice. He is doing well and we'll get through today and tomorrow to make a decision for [the game]."

The Eagles will practice on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. and the injury report will come out later in the afternoon.