It was a picture-perfect day in South Philadelphia. It was 71 degrees when the Eagles began practice at 11:30 a.m. My job (it’s a tough one, but someone has to do it) was to stand outside and watch them practice.
Even Joe Douglas, a day after his interview with the Jets, was out on the fields taking it all in.
Here are 10 observations from the Eagles’ seventh OTA practice (third open to reporters) this spring:
1. Two key defensive players were back on the field Monday. Rodney McLeod, who ended last year on IR after a Week 3 knee injury, practiced for the first time, at least for the first time in a practice open to reporters. McLeod participated in individual drills and group install. He had a big brace on his rehabbed knee. McLeod did not participate in any competitive periods but was with the first team, along with Andrew Sendejo, during group install. This is a positive sign that McLeod will be ready to go for training camp.
For the first time in an open practice, Zach Brown was a participant. The offseason acquisition isn’t being eased into action either. The veteran linebacker did everything on Monday and even took some first-team reps. He took them at first in just the base package with Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry and later in nickel next to KGH. Brown even took some extra second-team reps.
2. Absent from today’s practice: Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, Miles Sanders, Malcolm Jenkins, Jalen Mills, Nigel Bradham, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox.
This is the first day (we know of) that Agholor has skipped. Doug Pederson praised No. 13 earlier in the day (see story). Reminder: These practices are voluntary.
3. The group of players working on the side field today: Ronald Darby, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Carlton Agudosi and … drum roll … Mack Hollins! Earlier in the day, Pederson said he’s optimistic Hollins will be ready for training camp. Click here to read more on Hollins.
As far as the other guys go, Clement was working with a sled and Darby looked good sprinting. The Eagles are hoping they’ll be back for training camp.
Didn’t see rookie running back Sanders, whom Pederson is holding back. Sanders has a hamstring injury.
4. Good day for 30-year-old Charles Johnson. The former AAF receiver made a few really impressive catches and has been getting first-team reps thanks to the absences of Jeffery, Hollins and now Agholor. During 2-on-2s, Johnson first ran a great corner route to beat Avonte Maddox. He got him leaning inside. And a little later he made the catch of the day when he rose high to catch a pass from Carson Wentz. He did drop a rifled touchdown pass later in the practice as he was falling backward. It would have been a tough catch, but he should have had it.
5. DeSean Jackson showed off his speed today but not just as a deep threat outside. As he’s done a few times during these practices, Jackson really worked the seams today as well as the middle of the field. He will, at times, play inside to find specific matchups. Pederson likes to move his receivers around some. On one shallow cross, DeSean pulled the okeydoke on rookie Joey Alfieri. Jackson caught the ball, slowed down just enough and then hit the accelerator. No chance. A little later, Jackson pulled away from Maddox down the seam. Good coverage from Maddox, but what are you gonna do against DeSean?
6. The throw of the day came during 7-on-7s, on a deep ball from Wentz to Marken Michel. Decent coverage on the pass but Wentz threw it perfectly about 35-40 yards down field right into the hands of his receiver. Beautiful ball, beautiful touch.
7. Safety Deiondre’ Hall made a couple plays today. First, he tipped a ball in 11-on-11s and later during drills he leaped up and intercepted a ball from Nate Sudfeld at its highest point. Hall is a good special teams player, but wasn’t given a chance to play on defense last year after he was acquired in a trade with the Bears on Sept. 1.
8. Don’t want to make too big of a deal about it, but Wentz did have a compression sleeve on his left leg. That leg had previously been bare in the first two open practices. Just something to watch because Wentz seemed mighty happy to ditch the knee brace earlier this spring.
9. Clayton Thorson continues to impress me. The rookie today threw a perfect ball to Braxton Miller where only he could get it. Miller dropped it after Maddox made a nice play to bump him in the air. But the throw was what stood out to me. This kid has an arm. It’s easy to see why the Eagles liked him.
10. The first team offense struggled a little bit to get the ball into the end zone during red zone drills late in the practice. They got in once on a short pass to Boston Scott, but Wentz missed Zach Ertz in the end zone. Ertz thought he beat Sidney Jones in coverage. Wentz just overthrew it.
Stupid Observation of the Day: We got a glimpse of Jalen Mills on Monday afternoon. The Green Goblin walked out on the field for a few minutes. He now has a green rat tail to go along with the rest of his green hairstyle.
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