Eagles

Eagles training camp Day 6 observations: Wentz, offense look crisp in pads

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Eagles training camp Day 6 observations: Wentz, offense look crisp in pads

The Eagles were originally supposed to practice at the Linc on Saturday morning, but the threat of bad weather postponed the open practice until Sunday.

Instead, the team practiced at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday afternoon.

And the pads came out!

Players wore shoulder pads and leg pads for the first time this training camp, so it's beginning to look a lot like football in South Philly.

"It felt great," Zach Ertz said about being back in pads. "Obviously, it's been a long time coming. It feels like forever since we played the Cowboys back in January."

Let's hop into today's observations:

1. We'll start with injures (an homage to Andy Reid). Nick Foles was on the field but didn't practice. He has some soreness in his elbow and is expected to miss at least a couple practices.

Randall Goforth (knee) and Alex McCalister (hamstring) missed Saturday's practice. McCalister said he expects to be back on the field Sunday.

Alshon Jeffery went down during the 1-on-1 portion of practice and had his shoulder looked at but he returned a little later and seemed fine.

Elijah Qualls went down in pain during offensive line vs. defensive line drills and then got berated by defensive line coach Chris Wilson. Qualls left practice early. Later in the afternoon, he was walking around the locker room with a noticeable limp, but said he was just sore.

2. Carson Wentz was extremely sharp today, so it's no surprise the offense as a whole looked great in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s.  

"Today was a very good day for the whole offense," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "We had a few snafus here and there, but it was a good day. I thought in the pass game in particular we executed really well. It's only one practice so I'm not getting too excited, but that's probably as well as we've executed in the past year since I've been here."

Ertz was heavily involved during the team portion of practice and 7-on-7s. He made a lot of catches. Jordan Matthews had a big day too. He and Wentz connected on several nice plays.

3. It's a little thing, but Wentz's hard count was impressive on Saturday, getting a few guys to come across the line of scrimmage throughout the day.

4. One of Wentz's best plays came when he avoided pressure from Destiny Vaeao, rolled to his right and found a crossing Matthews. Wentz just always looks so comfortable when he starts rolling and throwing on the run. It seems like it helps him get into rhythm. That's not just an observation about today; that's an observation about Wentz from the time he arrived in Philadelphia.

5. Saturday was the first time we got to watch 1-on-1 drills with offensive linemen vs. defensive linemen in pads. Those battles are my favorite to watch at training camp.

Brandon Brooks vs. Fletcher Cox was a pretty good one. I'll give a slight edge to Brooks, but it was a great battle between two of the strongest players on the team. Back when I briefly covered the Houston Texans, I'd watch Brooks battle similarly against J.J. Watt.

6. In those same drills, Tim Jernigan showed that pass-rush prowess we've heard so much about. He got up under Isaac Seumalo and beat him for a would-be sack. Jim Schwartz praised Jernigan earlier in the week and it's clear that Jernigan is a pretty good rusher.

Meanwhile, Derek Barnett didn't look great in the 1-on-1s. He was stood up by Matt Tobin and Dillon Gordon on his consecutive plays.

7. Patrick Robinson had a bounce-back day after getting burned by David Watford on Friday. He was involved in the defense and broke up several passes. That's encouraging.

8. Terrence Brooks has been everywhere over the first week of camp. The reserve safety just seems to have a knack for being around the ball and he looked at home when the pads went on Saturday. He looked ready to pop someone.

9. Marcus Johnson, the second-year player from Texas, might end up becoming the true darling of training camp this year. He's been making plays every day and even got some run with the ones on Saturday. He's improved a lot from last training camp. 

10. Sunday morning's practice at Lincoln Financial Field is open to the public. Practice starts at 10 a.m. Gates will open at 8:30 a.m. Parking will be free in lots A, D, G, K, M and N until 10:30 a.m. No ticket is required and seats are first-come, first-serve. 

"We're excited for tomorrow," Ertz said. "It's going to be a great atmosphere. The fans are going to be excited, we're going to be excited playing in front of them for the first time. I think now we're just really looking forward to it."

Stupid Observation of the Day: Lane Johnson wore the blonde wig for the entire practice on Saturday. I give him credit for really committing to a joke.

NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

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NFL Notes: Ezekiel Elliott reportedly getting an emergency hearing

A person with direct knowledge of the situation says attorneys for Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott are set for an emergency hearing in federal court in New York as they try again to stop the running back's six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

Elliott's legal team filed a request for a temporary restraining order Monday and will get a hearing Tuesday in the Southern District of New York, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the filing hadn't been made public.

Last year's NFL rushing leader is suspended for Sunday's game at San Francisco after a federal appeals court overturned an injunction that had allowed him to play this season.

The case is shifting to New York because the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ordered the dismissal of Elliott's lawsuit in Texas. Elliott's attorneys have indicated they are still pursuing the case with the New Orleans court.

The person told the AP that U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty would hear arguments Tuesday in New York because the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla, is out of town (see full story).

Packers: Rodgers to have surgery on collarbone
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy says quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have surgery on his broken right collarbone, and that his season could be over.

McCarthy said Monday that the two-time NFL MVP would have surgery in the near future. He says that there is no timeline for his potential return.

"The key is to get Aaron healthy, it's not to develop a timeline," McCarthy said.

Rodgers got hurt in the first quarter of the 23-10 loss on Sunday at Minnesota.

Brett Hundley is now the starting quarterback. The Packers also promoted third-stringer Joe Callahan from the practice squad to become the backup quarterback.

Cornerback Quinten Rollins was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury to make room for Callahan (see full story).

Steelers: Bryant downplays reported trade demand
PITTSBURGH -- Yes, Martavis Bryant wants a trade.

To the Golden State Warriors.

Otherwise, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver insists he's just fine even after multiple reports that he asked the team to ship him elsewhere.

Asked Monday if he'd like a change of scenery, Bryant reiterated he's happy in Pittsburgh.

"I'm doing fine, everything is good," he said.

Even if -- at least statistically -- in his return from a year-plus suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy has been underwhelming.

Bryant caught two passes for 27 yards in Sunday's 19-13 victory over Kansas City and has just 17 receptions and one touchdown through six games for the first-place Steelers (4-2). His 13.6 yards per catch is more than 4 yards below his career average while splitting playing time with rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster (see full story).

Raiders: Linebacker Bowman signs 1-year deal
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- NaVorro Bowman will make a short move following his release last week from the San Francisco 49ers, signing a $3 million, one-year contract with the Oakland Raiders on Monday.

"It's a refresher for me," Bowman said after taking part in a walkthrough with his new team. "It's a new picture, new scenery. The guys are a special group of guys. You can just see the talent they have on the offensive side of the ball. I'm excited to go out there and play for an offense that is eager to score points. I look forward to it."

Bowman visited the Raiders on Monday and then signed the deal shortly after that, cancelling a planned visit to the Dallas Cowboys. He went right into meetings with the assistant coaches and could be ready to play when the Raiders (2-4) host the first-place Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

Bowman said he will do extra work this week to learn the defense and said he plans to play this week if he's prepared enough. The Raiders will be happy to get him on the field to add some experience to a young group of inside linebackers (see full story).

Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

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Redskins dealing with numerous injuries heading into Week 7 vs. Eagles

ASHBURN, Va. — Quinton Dunbar takes pride in the way Washington Redskins defensive backs coach Torrian Gray makes every member of the secondary prepare as though he's starting.

"When you get in, you are expected to play like a starter," Dunbar said.

That approach has come in handy this season. Already 2015 All-Pro Josh Norman, fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland and safety Stefan McClure have gone down with injuries, and second-year safety Su'a Cravens left the team to contemplate retirement.

It's possible Breeland, who sprained his left knee Sunday against San Francisco, and Norman, who has been out with a broken rib, play Monday night.

If they can't go, Washington will lean heavily on Dunbar, Kendall Fuller and rookies Montae Nicholson, Fabian Moreau and Joshua Holsey against quarterback Carson Wentz and the NFC East-leading Eagles.

"It'll be a great challenge because he's playing extremely well," Gruden said.

"Our guys will have to step up. That's just the way it is. There's a lot of teams around the National Football League this time of year that are dealing with key injuries at certain positions and we just had a couple of them at the corner spot. Fabian, Dunbar, they'll have to step up and play well (along with) Holsey, Fuller."

Breeland began the 49ers game as the top cornerback with Norman out and took a block at the knee from offensive lineman Joe Staley. Gruden said Breeland escaped serious MCL damage and is a quick healer, so he could be ready to face the 5-1 Eagles.

Norman will ramp up his running and exercise this week, and Gruden said "there's a chance" he plays Monday.

The news isn't so good for rookie defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, who could miss three weeks or more with a Lisfranc sprain in his left foot, and kicker Dustin Hopkins, whose right hip rotator muscle strain will force the Redskins to work out free agent kickers this week.

Even with all the injuries in the secondary, Washington hasn't yet had to look for external help because it has four 2016 or 2017 draft picks on the roster and able to take on extended roles.

"We are as strong as our weakest link and we always talk about not having the drop-offs," said Fuller, a 2016 third-round pick. "Anybody who is in there, we trust to make plays."

The Redskins have had no choice but to trust their young players, including Dunbar, a 25-year-old converted receiver. Injuries to D.J. Swearinger and Nicholson on Sunday almost forced Fuller to move from cornerback to safety where he saw no snaps at practice, and Moreau had to take over on the outside when Breeland was hurt in the second half.

Moreau, a third-round pick who missed the start of training camp with a torn pectoral muscle, said players follow Swearinger's lead to be ready for any situation.

"We got dogs," Moreau said. "We all trust each other. We all feed off of him, and we know that."

Of all the young defensive backs, no one has made a bigger leap than Dunbar, who was a receiver at Florida. Gruden joked that Dunbar isn't "really smart enough to know the magnitude of the situation he's in" and just goes out and plays.

Dunbar said after what he went through growing up that football's a pleasure for him and he doesn't blink. But he has made incredible strides since shifting to cornerback.

"Mentally I'm a thousand times better," Dunbar said. "I always had the physical attributes, man. It was more mental for me -- just breaking down the offenses, learning what's coming and stuff like that."

That'll come in handy against Wentz as the 3-2 Redskins try to close the gap and keep this a competitive division race.

From the coverage to the pass rush, Washington's defense must be better against Wentz than it was in a 30-17 loss in Week 1.

"We've got to figure out a way to contain Wentz," Gruden said. "He killed us with the off-schedule plays, and he's been doing that consistently throughout the year. That's why they're 5-1. It's a big game for us. We know that."