Eagles

10 observations from Eagles OTAs: Carson Wentz looks like himself, who was missing and more

10 observations from Eagles OTAs: Carson Wentz looks like himself, who was missing and more

It was a beautiful sunny and breezy day in South Philadelphia as the Eagles held their first OTA practice of the spring on Tuesday. 

Carson Wentz has no limitations and will not be held back by the coaching staff. He’s full-go (see story).

The most notable absence from today’s session was Malcolm Jenkins, who also skipped more voluntary workouts earlier in the offseason (see story). It seems possible his absence is contract related. 

Here are 10 observations from today’s practice: 

1. We’ll start with Wentz, because we kind of have to. 

No. 11 took all the first-team reps in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. It’s just one day in, but he looked pretty good. It didn’t seem like he had a ton of rust to shake off. 

He was back to looking like himself. That’s a great sign. 

One interesting thing from Tuesday was that Wentz wasn’t wearing a knee brace on his left leg. There were a few miscues but, for the most part, Wentz looked like Wentz. We’ll learn more as the spring progresses, but he’s off to a good start. There weren’t many opportunities for him to push the ball down the field. That’s what I want to see from him next, especially with DeSean Jackson back in Philly. 

2. Here’s a list of players who were not at practice: Mack Hollins, Alshon Jeffery, Malcolm Jenkins, Jalen Mills, Zach Brown, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Brandon Brooks, Fletcher Cox. 

Several of them have injuries and were expected to be absent. It’s important to remember that these practices are voluntary, but the Eagles had pretty good attendance on Day 1. The most interesting absence was Brown, whom the Eagles signed as a free agent this offseason. Not sure why he wasn’t at practice today, but we’ll see if he’s there next Tuesday, the next day reporters are allowed at practice. 

3. Here’s a list of players who were at practice but weren’t participating: Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod, Miles Sanders, Corey Clement, Nigel Bradham. 

Darby, Clement and McLeod stretched with the team and then did drills on a side field. Sanders was on the field with the running backs but did not have a helmet. 

Derek Barnett was wearing a helmet but did not participate in team drills. The defensive end, entering Year 3, had shoulder surgery about seven months ago. No reason to push him now. 

4. There were many players missing on Tuesday, but we at least got a glimpse at some depth charts from team drills. Here are a few interesting notes on offense:

• Jordan Mailata was the first-team right tackle for Johnson, Halapoulivaati Vaitai was the first-team right guard for Brooks and Andre Dillard was the first-team left tackle for Peters. Mailata and Big V are getting cross-trained at new positions and that started today. 

• Stefen Wisniewksi got second-team reps at center and then later at second-team right guard. 

• Without Jeffery at practice, the starting receivers were DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and Charles Johnson from the AAF. Johnson played for the Orlando Apollos in the short-lived league but is not some developmental player. He’s 30. 

• We saw Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert both get time with the ones. They ran some 12 personnel.

5. And on defense: 

• The first-team defensive line was: Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Malik Jackson and Vinny Curry. Second-team DL: Joe Ostman, Treyvon Hester, Hassan Ridgeway, Josh Sweat. 

• The secondary featured Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas as outside corners and Avonte Maddox in the slot. Tre Sullivan and Andrew Sendejo were the first-team safeties. (A lot of players missing from that equation.) Cre’Von LeBlanc was the second-team nickel corner. 

• The linebackers in nickel were Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry to start. Nice for Gerry to not get bumped by L.J. Fort or Paul Worrilow. It would have been more interesting to see what things would have looked like with Brown at practice. The second-team linebackers to start were Worrilow and Fort. 

6. Maddox made a tremendous interception on a pass from Cody Kessler during WRs vs. DBs. He leaped backward to pick off a pass that was intended for Braxton Miller. Impressive play. 

7. Goedert did get the best of Maddox on the other side of the field. The second-year tight end is so good at using his body to create space. A little later, he grabbed an opportunistic touchdown when a ball was batted in the air and landed in his hands.  

8. Without Sanders, Donnel Pumphrey and Boston Scott got extended reps and both looked pretty good. Pumphrey might not have a real chance to make this team, but let’s keep an eye on Scott. His number is 49 and that’s atrocious but he looks good in shorts and has ability as a punt returner. 

9. It’s going to be hard for Cody Kessler to win the backup job as the fourth quarterback. That was a big takeaway from today. First, Doug Pederson said these practices are a great chance for Nate Sudfeld to solidify the second-string job and then Kessler was working behind rookie fifth-rounder Clayton Thorson. To make matters worse for Kessler, Thorson looks pretty damn good. Just one day in, but he looks the part. 

10. I thought Sidney Jones looked good for Day 1. This will be a big season for him and he’s off to a good start, getting first-team reps because of injuries in front of him. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: The best moment of the practice was when Maddox made his great interception because all the DBs celebrated by dancing together and even Darby, who wasn’t practicing, ran on the field to join them. Fun moment. 

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Eagle Eye podcast: Should the Eagles bring back Shady?

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Eagle Eye podcast: Should the Eagles bring back Shady?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro figure out if the Eagles should sign LeSean McCoy or another veteran running back. 

Looking closer at the all-Andy Reid vs. all-Doug Pederson teams. Roob’s dispels some long-standing Eagles myths. And the guys continue better or worse with a deeper dive into the cornerback position. 

It’s all right here: 

  • (1:55) — Carlos Hyde will not be joining the Eagles.
  • (8:28) — Available veteran running backs.
  • (16:41) — All-time Andy Reid Eagles vs All-time Doug Pederson Eagles.
  • (32:13) — Debunking 10 Eagles myths.
  • (39:57) — Better or Worse: Cornerback.
  • (47:06) — Brian Dawkins advocates for mental health. 

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ESPN unveils new 2020 projections with Super Bowl chances, playoff predictions

ESPN unveils new 2020 projections with Super Bowl chances, playoff predictions

With June almost here, we're a little more than three months away from the start of football, which means it's time to fire up the arguments about which teams will dominate the 2020 regular season.

ESPN unveiled its 2020 Football Power Index rankings on Tuesday, an analytics-based look at all 32 teams, and no one should be surprised by the No. 1 team, defending champion Kansas City. Good for Andy Reid.

But outside the top two teams - the Chiefs and the No. 2 Ravens - it's clear ESPN's rankings believe the NFC is the stronger conference, with six of the top eight teams hailing from the NFC.

Including, you guessed it, the Eagles.

The Eagles rank No. 6 in the league, according to ESPN, one year after they won the NFC East despite a rash of injuries and setbacks. It feels fair: the Birds didn't even reach the Divisional Round of the playoffs, but this year they'll (hopefully) be healthy and ready to make some noise.

The problem for Eagles fans, however, comes when you look one spot above the Eagles to No. 5 and find... the Cowboys.

Rough.

ESPN's projections basically have the Eagles and Cowboys in a dead heat - which is fair - but they give Dallas the slight advantage instead of the Birds, an interesting decision considering the ways both teams finished their respective seasons last year.

Here's a look at a few of ESPN's more interesting projected stats:

5. Dallas Cowboys
Projected wins: 9.3
Chance to reach playoffs: 69%
Chance to win NFC East: 48%
Chance to win Super Bowl: 4.8%

6. Philadelphia Eagles
Projected wins: 9.1
Chance to reach playoffs: 66%
Chance to win NFC East: 44.7%
Chance to win Super Bowl: 4.3%

ESPN's Seth Walden explained Tuesday that the relative consistency in Dallas's offensive personnel, plus the addition of Mike McCarthy as the team's new head coach, gives the Cowboys the advantage.

It's certainly an explanation. 

One might imagine that, given the teams' fairly even offseasons, these projections would take recent history into account and give the Eagles the slight upper hand. Alas, it's the other way around.

I know I'll gladly take the coach with a more recent Super Bowl win, and the team with the more recent division championship, until proven otherwise.

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