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.

Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

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Eagles' rookie schools veteran in intense practice

Rasul Douglas made a huge play during the special teams portion of Wednesday's practice. Going 1-on-1 against veteran special teamer Najee Goode, the Eagles' rookie plowed through him and sent Goode to the turf inside the practice bubble. 

Goode bounced up and locked down the next rep, but for a few seconds, there was pure exuberance on the practice field. A bunch of Douglas' teammates ran toward him and celebrated, while coaches gave him kudos. 

A couple hours later, Douglas didn't even remember it. 

"What play?" the rookie asked. 

After making sure he was serious, out came an iPhone to show Douglas this video: 

"Oh, I don't even remember that," he said. 

While Douglas might have been locked in and focused enough to forget about the most exciting play during the open portion of Wednesday's practice, it was the kind of play that got the whole team going. 

Without remembering the specific instance, Douglas rightly guessed that it was his defensive back teammates, who ran over to congratulate him and celebrate. 

"We get so happy when one of us makes a play because we work hard and we know our goals in our room," Douglas said. "And we know our energy transforms and just passes along to other people. You can get somebody energized and they get somebody else energized." 

Head coach Doug Pederson elected to have his team in pads Wednesday in an effort to keep the team's intensity and physicality high as the team gets ready for the NFC Championship Game. 

That play helped. 

"I think Coach Pederson talks about it all the time; match his intensity," linebacker Nate Gerry said. "So when you see something like that, I guess that's matching the intensity. It just kind of sets the tone for practice."

During the Eagles' first-round bye, the team's players council went to Pederson and asked for an extra day in pads. Pederson planned on one leading into the divisional round game against the Falcons, but his veteran leaders didn't want to go an extra week without that intensity, so the Eagles strapped on their pads. 

They did it again last week and they did it again Wednesday. 

All season the Eagles have believed they're going to play the way they practice, so it shouldn't be much of a shocker. Pederson and the Eagles — despite all the hoopla around the championship — tried to treat Wednesday like any other Wednesday. In part, that meant getting the pads on and going through a tough practice. 

"We ain't going to play on Sunday without pads, so you just have keep in tune with what you do," Douglas said. "I think pads are good." 

Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

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Zach Ertz makes largest jump in NFL jersey sales

Eagles tight end Zach Ertz has moved into the top 10 in NFL jersey sales this week, according to national sales figures from Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This week’s Dick’s Jersey Report shows Ertz making the biggest jump in the top 10, moving up 22 spots from No. 29 last week to No. 7 this week.

“There must have been a lot of women’s soccer fans buying jerseys this week,” Ertz said jokingly, referring to his wife Julie, a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Could be. It’s not like Ertz had a huge game Saturday. He caught three passes for 32 yards in the Eagles’ 15-10 win over the Falcons in the conference semifinal playoff round at the Linc. But he did make his first Pro Bowl this year and finished the season with 74 catches for 824 yards and eight touchdowns.

Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught the miracle last-second pass from Case Keenum to send the Vikings into the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia on Sunday, also made a huge jump, moving from No. 23 to No. 4.

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz remains in the No. 2 position in jersey sales, despite not playing since he tore his ACL Dec. 10 in Los Angeles. Only Tom Brady’s jersey sold better over the past week.

The rest of the top 10 is Rob Gronkowski third, Antonio Brown fifth, Leonard Fournette sixth, T.J. Watt eighth, Julio Jones ninth and Le’Veon Bell 10th.

Wentz remains the top-selling jersey this year, according to Dick’s after finishing last year at No. 3. Tom Brady, the top-selling jersey last year, is No. 2, followed by Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Gronkowski.

There are no Eagles other than Wentz and Ertz in the top 50.