The Eagles’ third day of training camp brought some added intensity as the players were in pads for the first time this summer.
No, the Birds didn’t have any live (tackling to the ground) periods, but portions of today’s practice were clearly more intense.
Let’s start with Carson Wentz again:
1. Another step in Wentz’s recovery today. For the first time, he was with the starting offense in 11-on-11 drills — and remember, today the pads were on. The first cycle through, Wentz didn’t get any reps in 11-on-11s, but the second time, he was out there with the first group. Wentz got a ton of work in today and was dropping some absolute dimes out there.
On the very first play he was in there with the starters, Wentz scrambled out of the pocket, broke into a full sprint and, before he crossed the line of scrimmage, flipped the ball to Corey Clement. It was an eye-opening play. He also had plays where he rolled left and right and delivered good balls.
When practice began with individual drills, Wentz did some footwork-in-the-pocket drills and looked really good.
2. The scary thing about having Wentz in there during 11-on-11s, especially with pads, is that there are big linemen all around him. On one play, when Wentz was working with the twos, an offensive linemen got pushed back and bumped into his left (surgically repaired) leg. Wentz was fine; he didn’t get hurt. But it was a hold-your-breath type moment.
3. The one bad throw of the day from Wentz came during 11-on-11s, when he clearly just didn’t see Jalen Mills, who jumped the route to pull in the interception. Mills had a great day. Earlier in 1-on-1s against receivers, he pulled in another pick, should have had another and batted away a few balls.
4. Nate Sudfeld can throw a beautiful deep ball. Today he delivered one to Markus Wheaton in perfect stride. Sudfeld has a great arm, but it seems more impressive because of how smooth the ball flies out of his hand.
5. Sidney Jones (who I think is going to be great, see story), was the team’s nickel cornerback again today after De’Vante Bausby worked there yesterday. Nate Gerry got reps as weakside linebacker when the Eagles eventually got into their base package.
Something interesting: A couple times with the first-team defense, Joe Walker was in at middle linebacker and Jordan Hicks got some reps at outside linebacker. It looks like the Eagles want Hicks familiar with other spots.
6. There wasn’t a fight during the first padded practice, but I know who is going to start the first one of this training camp: veteran linebacker LaRoy Reynolds. He was popping people today and then talking to them afterward. He had words with Isaac Seumalo after one play and was pushing the limits of a “thud” practice. Apparently, that’s his reputation.
7. Second-year running back Donnel Pumphrey has put on some weight this offseason and it showed on one play when he picked up a blitzing Kamu Grugier-Hill to protect Sudfeld. Last year, any linebacker would have simply run him over.
8. Good day for Mack Hollins, who averaged 14.1 yards per reception as a rookie. He continues to look like a deep threat in practice. He beat Rasul Douglas in 1-on-1s a couple times today.
9. The play of the day came from Rodney McLeod, who made an incredible interception diving backward about 40 yards downfield during 7-on-7s. It was a great display of athleticism.
10. In the first 11-on-11 period, Fletcher Cox gave a friendly reminder to everyone in attendance at the NovaCare Complex that he’s still really good. Sometimes, he’s not the flashiest player, but he just wrecked a play by pushing his way through the offensive line. It was exactly the type of play defensive coaches want to see when the pads come on.
Stupid Observation of the Day: Rookie duties have included carrying pads for veterans for decades, but the Eagles have a twist on that. It’s rookies’ jobs to get their veteran teammates water ice.
Here’s rookie safety Ryan Neal posing with a platter of water ice for his fellow safeties.