Eagles training camp observations, Day 13: Alshon Jeffery has his best day

Eagles training camp observations, Day 13: Alshon Jeffery has his best day

It was a good day on Sunday to watch the Eagles take the field for a two-hour practice. Even Julie Ertz was there to watch. 

Training camp officially ends with Tuesday’s practice and Monday is a light 10-10-10 day, so we’ve almost made it to the end here. 

Let’s get to today’s obs:

1. Alshon Jeffery made some big plays today. While Carson Wentz had one of his shakier performances of the summer, he really seemed to connect with No. 17, who was making those typical Alshon-body control catches. One came near the sideline, when he was able to keep his feet in bounds. One came diving across the middle of the field. 

His most entertaining play of the day came when he caught a ball with young corner Jeremiah McKinnon draped on him in 7-on-7s. After Jeffery caught the ball, he said something to McKinnon and spiked the ball at his feet. 

2. Like we said, Wentz didn’t have his best day. He threw two interceptions and both of them were noteworthy for different reasons: 

• The first was a great play by Malcolm Jenkins. The Pro Bowl safety jumped a route, picked off the ball and began running the other way. He wasn’t in a full sprint, but the ball was stripped by … Jason Kelce! That’s right, the athletic center came out of nowhere and knocked the ball free on a maneuver where he jumped in the air and kind of two-handed it out of Jenkins’ arms. After practice, Jenkins laughed and said he didn’t even know what happened, but credited Kelce’s insane athleticism. 

• The other pick came near the end of practice. Wentz threw a bad ball that nearly fell incomplete but popped up into the hands of Avonte Maddox. On that play, JJ Arcega-Whiteside sort of rolled into Rodney McLeod’s knee for a little scare. McLeod was slow to get up but insisted after practice that he was fine. 

3. That takes us to injuries. The only new absence today was Vinny Curry, who is sick. DeAndre Thompkins, Paul Worrilow and Boston Scott returned to practice. 

Still not practicing: Shelton Gibson, Jalen Mills (PUP), Blake Countess, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Lane Johnson, Hassan Ridgeway, Daeshon Hall, Richard Rodgers, Fletcher Cox, Nigel Bradham. 

4. A few depth chart notes: 

• Without Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata has been the starting right tackle. That means he’s getting good work against Brandon Graham. 

• The starting corners today were Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox in the base package. Sidney Jones came on as the nickel. 

• The starting linebackers without Bradham: Nate Gerry, Zach Brown and L.J. Fort, who came on in base. 

• Mack Hollins is back for 11-on-11s and even got some first-team reps today. Still seems like that fifth WR spot is his to lose. 

• Without Curry and with Derek Barnett getting eased back into action, Josh Sweat got some run at first-team defensive end. 

5. Let’s talk about Sweat. He made a really nice move inside on Jason Peters today and the two had a good battle after that. These reps against a guy like JP will only help the second-year DE. 

6. I’m amazed by Darren Sproles every day. He’s 36 and played like a 23-year-old trying to make the team. Today, he had a crazy shifty run between the tackles and — as he always does — finished the rep by running the length of the field across the goal line. 

7. Miles Sanders made a great over-the-shoulder catch during the offensive install portion of practice. He has a future as a true feature back. 

8. Cody Kessler looked OK again today. Not good, not bad. Just OK. He made one nice play where he found a throwing late to zip a ball to Donnel Pumphrey. At 6-1, he sometimes has to manufacture throwing lanes and he’s a vet at it.

There are times, though, where Kessler holds the ball forever. He doesn’t want to make mistakes, but sometimes in practice, you’ve just gotta let it fly. 

9. Clayton Thorson barely got to throw the ball in the last two practices. It looks like his reps are going to come in the preseason games. He did get a few passes out to Will Tye. Maybe a few rhythm throws to the tight end on Thursday could help avoid another disastrous performance. 

10. Zach Ertz made a play today where he caught a pass in the flat and immediately cut hard back inside to avoid a charging Andrew Sendejo. It was an impressive play that showed off Ertz’s awareness.  

Stupid Observation of the Day: The dragonflies at the NovaCare Complex look prehistoric. They’re basically pterodactyls. 

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It looks like Eagles’ high-ranking front office member might stay after all

It looks like Eagles’ high-ranking front office member might stay after all

It sounds like Eagles Vice President of Football Operations Andrew Berry might be staying in Philadelphia after all. 

Berry, 32, interviewed with the Browns for their vacant general manager position last week but it seems like another candidate is going to get the job. 

According to Cleveland.com, Vikings assistant GM George Paton “could be hired as Browns GM early this week” as the top candidate for the gig.

Berry has been a hot name this offseason; he’s been mentioned for two possible promotions outside the Eagles’ facility. The other was with the Panthers but the Eagles reportedly turned down their request to interview him because the Panthers’ job wouldn’t involve final personnel say.

So despite plenty of interest in Berry, it appears there’s a pretty good chance he stays put for at least another season with the Eagles under Howie Roseman. 

Berry joined the Eagles last winter. The Eagles created the position for Berry because they wanted to find a way to get the Harvard-educated fast-riser into their building. Before coming to the Eagles, he was already in Cleveland as the Browns’ vice president of player personnel for three seasons. 

It was in that former role that he formed a relationship with Kevin Stefanski, who interviewed for the head coaching job in Cleveland before but finally got hired this offseason. The problem for Berry is that Paton is even closer to Stefanski from their time together in Minnesota. 

With Roseman firmly entrenched as the general manager in Philadelphia, it seems inevitable that the Eagles will eventually lose Berry. But it’s beginning to seem like that won’t happen this offseason. 

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NFL mock draft 2020 roundup 2.0: Some new names linked to Eagles

NFL mock draft 2020 roundup 2.0: Some new names linked to Eagles

As the football world takes over Mobile, Alabama, this week for Senior Bowl, we’re now in full mock draft season. 

We still have months before the 2020 draft but that hasn’t stopped the internet from doing what it does best: mock drafts! 

Here’s the latest roundup of possibilities for the Eagles with the 21st pick in April: 

NBC Sports Washington, Tyler Roman

Xavier McKinney, CB, Alabama

What they said: It’s no secret that the Eagles had one of the worst secondaries in the league this year, so it would make sense to rectify it this off-season. McKinney is a versatile chess piece for a team that really needs talent on the backend. McKinney can cover the slot and hold his own against the run, he’s the prototypical safety prospect for today’s NFL.

CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson

Xavier McKinney, CB, Alabama 

What they said: 32-year-old safety Malcolm Jenkins would like a new deal and Rodney McLoud could be headed for free agency. The Eagles would love to upgrade the cornerback position but three of the top CBs are already off the board. McKinney is a top-flight safety, and could possibly emerge as the top safety in the class by draft night.

My take on McKinney: The Eagles definitely need help at the cornerback position. Their two starters from 2019 (Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills) are both set to become free agents in March and it’s not exactly like the Eagles have a bunch of talent waiting in the wings. But they might need safeties too. Malcolm Jenkins said he won’t play on his current contract and Rodney McLeod is going to be a free agent. 

I listed McKinney as a cornerback because both Wilson and Roman did, but he’s really more of a versatile safety who can play everywhere. McKinney is an impressive athlete and the Eagles could plug and play him at a few different spots. In some ways, it’s hard not to see similarities to former Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick because of the versatility. And we’ve seen how Jim Schwartz has been able to use Malcolm Jenkins over the last few years. I think this would be a solid pick. 

San Diego Union-Tribune, Eddie Brown

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

What they said: The Eagles wide receiver corps is in shambles. The inconsistent Nelson Agholor faces free agency while DeSean Jackson isn’t getting any younger (or healthier). Higgins is a big-play machine with elite size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) and speed. He has an “above the rim” mentality as a former basketball player and would be a steal this low in the first round. 

SB Nation, Dan Kadar

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

What they said: Higgins may have only had three receptions in Monday night’s national title game, but he still profiles as a No. 1 receiver option in the NFL. As the season wore on, it was obvious that the Eagles need weapons on offense. A receiver like Higgins should be the first of a few added in this draft.

My take on Higgins: He’s been the most popular name mocked to the Eagles in the early mock draft season. It’s obvious the Eagles need receiver help and there are plenty in this draft, especially in the first round. We’ll probably see at least a half dozen receivers go in the first round and Higgins is likely going to be one of them. 

Higgins is big and fast. He really does have a good size/speed combo and there’s a lot to like about him. He’s coming off a great junior season when he had 59 catches for 1,167 yards (19.8) and 13 touchdowns. That’s great production, which used to really matter for the Eagles when Joe Douglas was here. But at his year-end press conference, Howie Roseman noted that production doesn’t always translate and there were successful rookie receivers who weren’t as productive in college. That doesn’t mean production at the college level is a bad thing, but it’s maybe not as important for the Eagles this time around. 

USA Today, Luke Easterling

Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU 

My take on Fulton: There were no explanations in this mock draft but we don’t need an explanation of why the Eagles need cornerbacks. They desperately need help at that position. And Fulton is a really good one. He has the potential to be a great man corner in the NFL and he’s coming from a school that has produced a ton of great DBs. He had just two interceptions in his time at LSU, which is noteworthy because he doesn’t appear to be a ballhawk. But he can cover. And the Eagles need guys who can cover. 

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