DeVonta Smith, the Eagles’ prized rookie receiver, returned to practice on a limited basis Monday morning, 16 days after he suffered a knee sprain.
Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner last year for Alabama, hurt his knee during the Eagles’ evening practice at the NovaCare Complex on July 31. He’s missed eight full practices, three walkthroughs and the preseason opener Thursday night against the Steelers.
The Eagles recently upgraded Smith from week-to-week to day-to-day.
The Eagles and Patriots were holding joint practices Monday and Tuesday, and Smith was not participating in 1-on-1 or team drills. But he did take part in individual drills for the first time, a significant positive step as the Eagles try to get their first-round pick back on the field.
Smith participated in only three practices before he got hurt. Although he and Jalen Hurts do have a history together — they were teammates at Alabama in 2018 — they are missing important work together with opening day now less than four weeks away.
The Eagles will generally bring a player back in individual drills for a few days until he’s ready for full team drills. Smith is not expected to play in the preseason game against the Patriots at the Linc Thursday, but the Eagles would love to get him some snaps in the preseason finale Aug. 27 against the Jets at the Meadowlands. But even if he’s not back for that game, the Eagles have two more weeks of practice between the Jets and the regular-season opener against the Falcons in Atlanta on Sept. 12.
Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns for Alabama last year. The Eagles made him the 10th pick in the draft.