Eagles minicamp observations, Day 2: A good sign from Alshon Jeffery

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Eagles minicamp observations, Day 2: A good sign from Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles were back at practice Wednesday afternoon, their second of three mandatory minicamp sessions. 

Tuesday's observations focused on Darren Sproles and Michael Bennett joining the team for the mandatory portion of camp (see story)

Today, we’ll focus on a guy who’s been around but isn’t healthy just yet. 

1. During the team portion of practice, which was happening on the far side of the field, Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery had a little catch. Nothing too taxing, but the sight of Wentz throwing to Jeffery was enough for everyone to take notice. 

It’s the first time we’ve seen Jeffery catch passes since he needed rotator cuff surgery after the season. And it’s the first time we’ve seen Wentz throw to Jeffery since early December. For the most part, Wentz was on the money with his throws, but a few times, they were just a tad higher than in the chest. Jeffery looked fine raising his arms to catch a ball, a good sign after shoulder surgery. 

“It’s good,” Wentz said. “Obviously, we’d love to be out there competing and all these things. I know it’s tough for him to watch from the sidelines too, just like it is for any competitor.”

2. Sidney Jones is still not practicing. Doug Pederson said the second-year corner is suffering from some lower-body soreness that’s not related to that Achilles injury from last year. The same guys who haven’t been practicing weren’t practicing again today. 

That includes big Haloti Ngata. 

3. At one point during individual drills, Wentz dropped back to pass and instead of a ball boy, his receiver was Nick Foles. The Super Bowl MVP is also possibly the most famous receiver in Eagles’ Super Bowl history. 

Maybe he’s gearing up for Philly Special 2.0. 

4. Darren Sproles got a few more reps coming out of the backfield against air and he still has it. So quick, so agile, so smooth coming out of the backfield. He doesn’t need the extra reps. Just bubble-wrap him until Week 1. 

5. The play of the day came during 7-on-7s, when Nate Sudfeld dropped in a beautiful deep ball to Bryce Treggs, who needed to stretch out to make the fingertips catch. It’s not hard to see why the Eagles are so high on Sudfeld. He can drop dimes. 

6. We saw some trickeration from the Eagles today. On the very first play of team, former quarterback Greg Ward took a pitch from his receiver position and tried to hit Mike Wallace deep down the field. The pass fell incomplete. It didn’t even come close to working, but the fact that the Eagles are working on that stuff — there were more gadgety plays too — means they feel pretty good about the basics. 

7. The nickel corner carousel continued to spin today. This time, first-year player D.J. Killings took his turn. So Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby were outside, with Killings in the slot. The only guy who still hasn’t gotten reps in the slot with the first team — and he won’t — is Rasul Douglas. 

8. Sudfeld found Dallas Goedert on a beautifully timed pass and route during 11-on-11s. Goedert has been really impressive this spring. It’s still early and we’ll have to see what he can do once the pads go on, but he’s looking like he can make an immediate impact this season. He and Sudfeld have really worked well together. 

9. Nate Gerry dropped back into coverage and picked off a pass from Foles during a team snap. Gerry is in the competition for the weakside linebacker spot once owned by Mychal Kendricks. He’s in that competition with Kamu Grugier-Hill and free agent pickup Corey Nelson. Gerry continues to push hard. 

10. During 11-on-11s, Donnel Pumphrey got a rare rep with the first team and he made the most of it. He caught a quick little swing pass and then showed off some athleticism and shiftiness. Like we’ve said before about Pumphrey … long way to go, but his NFL career isn’t dead yet. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: The Eagles switched up the practice playlist today. Plenty of classic rock in the beginning. The music highlight of the day is when “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” came on and Grugier-Hill did a little country dance during a special teams drill.

More from Eagles minicamp

Michael Bennett explains OTAs absence after 1st Eagles practice

Fletcher Cox wants to be Defensive Player of Year — can he?

After ring ceremony, Eagles will be done celebrating Super Bowl

Duce Staley confirms Eagles will have a lead running back

LeSean McCoy; Derek Barnett vs. Mike Mamula in Roob's Random Points

LeSean McCoy; Derek Barnett vs. Mike Mamula in Roob's Random Points

Going deep into the Eagles' slow starts, my all-time top-5 Eagles defensive ends, the latest on Shady and lots more in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points! 

1. The Cowboys are more banged up than the Eagles, the Cowboys have lost three in a row, the Cowboys just lost to the Jets, and it's time for the Eagles to start fast, finish strong, play smart and not just lay claim to first place in the NFC East but reassert themselves as one of the better teams in the NFC. A win over the Cowboys wouldn't lock anything up with nine games to go, but the Eagles have lost three straight to the Cowboys, they're 8-13 in the last 21 meetings (although they didn't play the starters in the 2017 season-ender), they haven't swept their biggest rival since 2011. They've never beaten a Cowboys team with Ezekiel Elliott. It's time to show up. It's time to stop making excuses. It's time to stop complaining about the officials and injuries and go into JerryWorld and win a football game.

2. I don't know if there's a non-QB in the NFL who's more important to his team's success than Ezekiel Elliott. When he rushes for at least 70 yards, the Cowboys are 31-8. When he rushes for less than 70 yards, they're 1-9. The Eagles? They have the No. 2 run defense in the NFL, and nobody has rushed for 70 yards against them this year. This is the first time they've gone six straight games without allowing a back to gain 70 yards since the last two games of 2002 and the first five of 2003. The Eagles will need every bit of that run defense Sunday, but if they can limit Elliott — who's averaged 116 yards and 5.4 yards per carry in four games against the Eagles — they have a terrific chance to bring a win back from North Texas.

3. Nelson Agholor is 12th among wide receivers in 2019 salary ($9.4 million) and 56th in yards (230).

4. I'm convinced one of the reasons for the Eagles' first-quarter struggles is that Pederson isn't being aggressive enough early in games. Take a look:

• The Eagles are running the ball on 57 percent of their first-quarter plays, 34 percent in the second quarter, 43 percent in the third and 41 percent in the fourth. And they have 17 offensive points in the first quarter, 51 in the second, 46 in the third and 33 in the fourth. 

• On first down in the first quarter, they've run on 18 of 31 plays. The only regular QB in the league who's thrown less often in the first quarter is Jameis Winston. 

• The Eagles run the ball the second-most of any team in the NFL in the first quarter, and they're one of the lowest-scoring first-quarter teams in the league. No way this is a coincidence.

5. My all-time Eagles top-5 defensive ends: 1. Reggie, 2. Clyde, 3. Trent Cole, 4. Hugh Douglas, 5. Brandon Graham.

6. After Mack Hollins had a productive 9-for-112 against the Falcons and Lions, I thought, "OK, I was wrong about Mack. He's not bad!" Since then, he's played 108 snaps over three games and has one 13-yard catch. In his career, Hollins has gotten 10 or more offensive snaps 16 times. He's had fewer than 15 yards in 11 of those 16 games. And still, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside can't get on the field? 

7. Derek Barnett hasn't been awful, but the Eagles need more than he's giving them. Barnett has two sacks this year — one in the Jets embarrassment — and has made headlines more for his penalties and fines than his play on the field. This is Year 3 for the first-round pick, and he was hurt much of last season, but for the sake of comparison, Mike Mamula had 11½ sacks in his first 27 games. Barnett has 9½. The Eagles are relying heavily on Barnett to create pressure, and it's not happening enough.

8. I need to see Josh Sweat and Daeshon Hall get at least 20 snaps each. 

9. Brian Westbrook had five 30-yard catches in his first 50 career games. Miles Sanders has five in his first six games.

10. LeSean McCoy apparently has plenty left in the tank. All he had to do was get out of Buffalo. The Eagles' all-time leading rusher is 2nd in the NFL at 5.4 yards per carry (behind only Ravens QB Lamar Jackson) playing for Andy Reid in Kansas City. His 4.5 career average is 7th-highest in NFL history among backs with 10,000 yards. And he now has an incredible 48 career games with 10 or more carries and 5.0 yards per rush. Only Barry Sanders (64), Frank Gore (57), Walter Payton (56), Jim Brown (55) and Adrian Peterson (50) have had more.

NFL Week 7 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

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NFL Week 7 schedule: Derrick Gunn's 5 games to watch

Here are Derrick Gunn's five matchups to watch for Week 7 of the NFL season.

Vikings at Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX)

The Vikings' offense bread and butter is supposed to be their ground game, but against the Eagles it was bombs away. Meanwhile, the Lions' defense plays hit or miss. At some points of the game, it's really good, but at others it's really bad, which is the primary reason why the Lions have given up 414 yards per game. Detroit is also playing with a huge chip on its shoulders after getting jobbed by the refs in Green Bay. The Vikings have too much firepower for Detroit to counter — Minnesota will silence the Lions' roar.

Texans at Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS) 

In their last two games (wins over the Falcons and Chiefs), the Texans have been a scoring machine, racking up a total of 84 points. Houston's offense can explode at any given moment, with 397 yards per game. Their run defense (88 yards allowed) will be a huge test for the Colts' rushing attack (fourth in yards per game with 142). The Colts are coming off a bye will have the heart of their defense back in linebacker Darius Leonard, who missed the last three weeks because he was in concussion protocol returns. For me, the difference is the QB play — Deshaun Watson vs. Jacoby Brissett. The Texans will prove to be to road tough in Indy.

Raiders at Packers (Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS) 

Jon Gruden's well-rested squad hits the road to confront Aaron Rodgers and the mystique of Lambeau Field. Oakland riding a two-game winning streak and is only a half-game out of first place in the AFC West. After a referee-aided win over Detroit, Green Bay is in control of the NFC North. Rodgers is still waiting for his favorite target Davante Adams to return and is slinging it to a bunch of receivers you’ve never heard of, but so far it’s been working. Grudens' attempt to raid Lambeau for a win will fall short.

Saints at Bears (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX) 

What a story the Saints have been in Drew Brees' absence. They win low-scoring affairs and they win shootouts, and Teddy Bridgewater has been a big reason why. In the five games he’s played, he’s completed 69.4 percent of his passes, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. The Saints' defense is fast and relentless. Speaking of defenses Chicago has one of the best in the business, but they will now be without DT Akiem Hicks, who has been placed on IR with an elbow injury. QB Mitchell Trubisky is finally back at practice this week after healing up from a shoulder injury, but it's not certain if he’s playing on Sunday. Trubisky gives the Bears a better chance against New Orleans, but I’m marching with the Saints' hot streak.

Ravens at Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m., FOX) 

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson has been a fantasy football dream: 1,507 yards  passing, 11 touchdown passes, 460 yards rushing and two rushing TDs. This past Sunday vs the Benglas, Jackson became the first QB in the Super Bowl era to pass for at least 200 yards and run for 150 in a single game. Then there’s this guy named Russell Wilson who’s playing at an MVP level, with 14 TD passes and no picks. The run game will be vital for both teams in this one. The Ravens are first in the league in rushing at 205.0 per game, and Seattle averages 131. This is the first meeting between these two on the West Coast since 2011. This could be the game of the day, and the day should belong to the Seahawks.

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