Eagles training camp observations, Day 3: Another encouraging sign for Wentz

USA Today Images

Eagles training camp observations, Day 3: Another encouraging sign for Wentz

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. 

1980 Super Bowl tickets and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points

1980 Super Bowl tickets and more in Roob's 10 Random Eagles Points

Inflated Super Bowl ticket prices, your favorite Eagle who wore No. 21, an Eagles draft trend and much more in this weekend's edition of Roob's 10 Random Offseason Eagles Points!

1. Maybe he’ll be another Byron Maxwell, another Nnamdi, another DRC. I have a good feeling about Darius Slay, though. I think the Eagles may have nailed this one. The price in draft picks wasn’t too high, and his contract is big but it’s also smart and along the lines of what top corners are getting and has an out after three years. Maybe he’ll be another cornerback bust. There’ve been enough of those. But with his personality and his confidence and his playmaking ability, he reminds me of Asante Samuel, who was the last elite corner the Eagles have had. I remember the day the Eagles drafted Tra Thomas in 1998, he shouted into the phone during a conference call, “I’m not going to be another Eagles first-round bust!” Slay all but guaranteed the same thing. I could be wrong, but I think this time they got it right.

2. Doing some research this week I found a preview story on Super Bowl XV between the Eagles and Raiders from Jan. 25, 1981, by a legendary sports writer and cartoonist Murray Olderman that included this line: “Defense makes all coaches salivate but doesn’t do much to excite the guy paying that inflated $40 ticket (up from $10 last year).” Imaging having to pay an inflated $40 for a Super Bowl ticket! Outrageous.

3. Zero interest in Brandin Cooks. 

4. The last Eagles quarterback to throw the first pass of the regular season and the last pass of the postseason was Michael Vick in 2010. The last Eagles quarterback to start and finish 16 regular-season games and finish a playoff game was Donovan McNabb in 2003. Only 17 years ago.

5. It’s just weird to me that Halapoulivaati Vaitai gets a five-year, $45 million contract just a few hours into free agency, and here we are three weeks later and Jason Peters is still unsigned. I get that Big V is younger, but he’s started four games over the last two years and as we’ve all seen, he isn’t the world’s most consistent lineman. J.P. has been banged up, and he’s 38, but he has started 32 of 35 game the last two years. And let’s be honest: Even at 38 he’s way better than Big V. I wrote the other day about some of the reasons Peters is still on the street. But I’m still surprised. It might not be till after the draft till he finds a home, but I still feel like he’ll be playing somewhere next season.

6. The Eagles have drafted nine Pro Bowlers in the first round since 1990, and six of them were linemen — Fletcher Cox and Corey Simon on defense, and Lane Johnson, Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Shawn Andrews on offense. The exceptions are Lito Sheppard, Donovan McNabb and Carson Wentz.  

7. I’m fine with the Eagles not landing a receiver in free agency. But, man, they better land the right guy in the first round of the draft. And the second or third round. They simply can't afford to mess this up.

8. The first-round running back trend really tells you a lot about the way the NFL game is changing. As more and more running backs fail to be productive over a number of years and limp out of the game at a young age, first-round running backs have become more and more rare. Only 16 were drafted in the first round this past decade, less than a third of the number taken in the first round during the 1980s and half as many as the previous decade. In the last seven drafts, only nine of 223 first-round picks were running backs.  

2010-2019: 16

2000-2009: 32

1990-1999: 34

1980-1989: 50

9. Interesting to compare Dallas Goedert’s first two seasons in the NFL with Zach Ertz’s:

Ertz: 94-for-1,171, 7 TDs

Goedert: 91-for-941, 9 TDs

10. On our last Eagle Eye podcast, Dave Zangaro and I were talking about Ronald Darby, and Dave asked what player I think of when I see jersey No. 21. I immediately answered … Joselio Hanson. But in all seriousness, it’s Eric Allen. My theory is that we associated jersey numbers with the first player that stuck out to us when we first started watching the Eagles. I think of 55 as Mike Reichenbach, not Brandon Graham. I think of 96 as Clyde and not Derek Barnett. And I even see No. 20 and think of Andre Waters and not Dawk. If there’s nobody significant that wore that number in the 1980s, it’s different. No. 36 is definitely Brian Westbrook (and not Robert Drummond, Stanley Pritchett or Michael Zordich). And No. 27 will always be Malcolm Jenkins (and not Siran Stacy, Eric Zomalt or Norman LeJeune. But for all the numbers that were worn by key guys the last few years of the Buddy Era, that’s where my brain goes. I can’t help it.

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey died on Saturday of complications from the coronavirus. Dempsey was 73.

Dempsey contracted the coronavirus in March at the Lambeth House, a retirement home in New Orleans, and is one of at least 15 residents to die from the virus, according to The Times-Picayune.

Dempsey was an Eagle from 1971-1974, but also played for the Saints, Rams, Oilers and Bills.

Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey was known for his small flat kicking shoe. That shoe now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

The year before he joined the Eagles, Dempsey gained fame by kicking a 63-yard field goal to give the Saints a last-second 19-17 win over the Lions at Tulane Stadium in 1970. It broke the previous NFL record for longest field goal by 7 yards.

That was the NFL record for 43 years until Matt Prater hit a 64-yarder in 2013. Others had tied the record but it took over four decades to beat it.

In his four seasons with the Eagles, for whom he played the longest, Dempsey kicked in 47 games and made 66 of 108 field goals (61.1%). He also made 84 of 90 point-after attempts. Dempsey is 18th on the Eagles’ list of all-time scorers with 282 points.

Dempsey retired to New Orleans where he began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in 1969. He had been battling dementia since 2012. 

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles