Eagles

Training camp observations: D-line dominates vs. Jets, Watkins makes a play

Eagles

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Eagles traveled up the New Jersey Turnpike on Monday and hit the fields at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday for the first of two joint practices against the Jets.

It was a hot morning in North Jersey and the two teams got some good work in after practice began at around 10:20 in the morning. After individual drills, there were 1-on-1s followed by 11-on-11 team drills; no 7-on-7 today.

It’s a nice looking facility:

Here are some observations from today’s practice:

1. As always, a few housekeeping notes:

• After sitting out the team portion of practice on Sunday, Fletcher Cox was back in there as a starting defensive tackle next to Javon Hargrave. More on them in a moment.

• Andre Dillard also participated in team drills, getting some second-team reps at left tackle. It’s good to see that the Eagles aren’t letting him vulture snaps from Jordan Mailata anymore.

• Limited at practice: Cox (groin), Dillard (knee), Shaun Bradley (groin), Jason Huntley (ribs), Craig James (foot), JaCoby Stevens (hamstring), Le’Raven Clark (ramping back up after coming off PUP).

• Day to day: Genard Avery (groin), Derek Barnett (shoulder), Ryan Kerrigan (thumb), Joe Ostman (concussion), K’Von Wallace (groin).

• Davion Taylor (calf) is week-to-week and Tyree Jackson (back) is month-to-month.

2. The Jets are without presumed starting guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and then big starting left tackle Mekhi Becton left practice early. But even taking in account those injuries, the Eagles’ defensive line absolutely dominated on Tuesday. It was hard for the Jets to find any success offensively because the guys up front were wrecking it.

 

The Eagles were without Barnett on Tuesday but the rest of the starters more than took care of business. Without Vera-Tucker, veteran Dan Feeney was working at left guard and it didn’t go well against Hargrave, who was constantly in the backfield.

From what I’ve heard, Feeney hasn’t had a very good summer but he was abused by Hargrave in this first joint practice. And Hargrave has been very good all training camp.

When asked about the difference in Hargrave this year to last, Cox said, “He’s healthy.” Hargrave looks it.

3. In the first round of joint practices against the Patriots last week, both teams were on their absolute best behavior. That was tested with the Jets on Tuesday.

On one rep, the Eagles’ defense got another “sack” but this time gently touched starting quarterback Zach Wilson … and the Jets didn’t like that. So there was a shoving match before the two sides were quickly separated.

Then a little later, rookie JaQuan Bailey was blocked to the ground by OL Grant Hermanns. When Bailey got up, he ran over and shoved Hermanns in the back. I’m surprised a fight didn’t break out right there. Hermanns, looking surprised, just kept walking back to the huddle.

Temperatures will be high again on Tuesday and I predict we see a little scuffle.

4. One of the best balls of the day came when the teams were split on two fields. Jalen Hurts connected deep down the left sideline (around 45 yards) to a streaking Dallas Goedert. Goedert has quietly had a very strong camp.

5. On the very next play, Hurts rolled to his left, pulled up and launched another one down the left sideline. This time, Quez Watkins leaped into the air and pulled down this catch.

It was a great play from Watkins, who was banged up on the play and needed to get checked out. But instead of waiting for Watkins to walk off on his own, Hurts and a few others picked him up and basically dragged him off the field. The only reason I’m telling you this is because I have never seen that before and I’m telling everyone I know.

Anyway, Watkins was fine and even returned to team drills later in practice. His impressive training camp continues.

And Hurts had a couple good throws on Tuesday but he also held the ball too long on several occasions. Nick Sirianni on one was particularly annoyed that his starting quarterback didn’t release a pass earlier.

6. A few notes from wide receiver-defensive back 1-on-1s:

• Darius Slay had a tremendous rep against wideout Jeff Smith. Smith ran a good route and gained a step on Slay on a deep ball but Slay recovered and just as Smith was catching the pass and bringing it down to his waist, Slay got his hand in there to knock it loose. Slay has some real veteran savvy.

 

• Old friend Manasseh Bailey (was with the Eagles last year) got behind Steven Nelson for a deep ball that got a huge cheer from the Jets fans in attendance.

• Jalen Reagor continues his dominance in these 1-on-1s. On Tuesday, he cruised by Lamar Jackson (not that one) for a nice reception.

• I could watch DeVonta Smith run routes in 1-on-1s all day. He’s so crisp.

• Speaking of crisp route runners, my guess is that Sirianni really likes Marken Michel. Michel is great about sticking his foot in the ground and exploding at the top of his routes. That’s something Sirianni always preaches.

7. In the final period of the day, the Eagles’ first-team offense was able to move the ball against the Jets and get into the end zone. They were aided by a few defensive penalties, but they still got it done. From the 1-yard line, Hurts hit Reagor in the flat for a touchdown.

Also notable on that drive: Kenny Gainwell got a ton of work. In fact, the drive opened with a Gainwell run, followed by two straight Gainwell catches in the middle of the field. Sanders seemed fine after practice, by the way. Maybe this was just a way to get Gainwell some extended run with the first team. He’s going to play as a rookie.

8. After the Eagles’ offense marched down the field for a touchdown, the Eagles’ defense forced a 3-and-out: Incompletion, short pass, sack. I wondered if they’d give the Jets another chance … nope.

9. The Jets’ second-team offense turned the ball over in that same period when Josh Johnson overthrew his man and was picked off by safety Andrew Adams. Adams was one of the players I wrote could use a big week.

10. Travis Fulgham had a nice couple catches in an early team period and just when I was about to comment that he was having a nice day, he dropped an easy one. Overall, Fulgham hasn’t had the camp the Eagles probably expected him to but we still see an occasional flash.

Stupid Observation of the Day: There’s a giant tree in the middle of the Jets’ facility between two of their fields. During a special teams period, Zach Ertz and Goedert had a leisurely catch in its shade.

Apparently, Jets owner Woody Johnson is quite fond of the tree in a way you’d imagine a guy named Woody would be fond of a tree. In this NJ Monthly story from December 2008, Johnson said the tree is “a symbol of what we’re trying to accomplish here” because it looks like there’s a V for Victory the way the branches are aligned. OK … sure. By the way, it’s a “hearty oak” according to this story.

 

Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast:

Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube