Eagles training camp observations, Day 4: The Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson Show

Eagles training camp observations, Day 4: The Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson Show

Today gets the new honor of being the hottest day of training camp so far. It was oppressively hot. 

But the Eagles were out there for two hours Monday and it was another competitive day. 

We’ll start with something pretty exciting: 

1. Today was the Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson Show. We saw it in OTAs and now we’re seeing it in training camp. These two guys built chemistry fast and made three spectacular plays together today. 

• The first came on a comeback route against Avonte Maddox on the right sideline. Jackson got separation easily and the throw was already out of Wentz’s hand before the cutback. It really shows their timing. 

• The next was the very next play. Now, Jackson had Maddox where he wanted him and ran past him for a decently long touchdown and Wentz hit him perfectly in stride.

• In a later period, Malcolm Jenkins actually had extremely tight coverage on Jackson, but Wentz dropped in an absolute dime for Jackson, who caught it and tapped both toes in along the sideline. 

“Every day it grows,” Wentz said of his chemistry with Jackson (see story). “ Whether it’s on the field and you actually see it with live reps or after practice or between reps at practice during the team drills, when we’re talking and we’re watching tape together. Chemistry grows in a million different ways. It’s exciting for sure.” 

2. Rodney McLeod, who is still recovering from that torn ACL suffered last season, participated in 7-on-7 drills today for the first time. Another good step. 

“It felt good,” McLeod said afterward (see story). “We’re just building.”  

3. Slight difference at cornerback today. (Still no Ronald Darby or Jalen Mills.) Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones were still the starters in the base package, but when Maddox came in for nickel, Jones slid inside. This is the first significant work Jones has gotten as the nickel corner this summer. 

Newly-signed Orlando Scandrick worked as the second-team nickel in place of injured Cre’Von LeBlanc. 

4. Boston Scott got to deliver a hit of his own today. After taking a punishing shot from Alex Singleton in Saturday’s practice (the first with pads), Scott truck-sticked safety Trae Elston in team drills. He ran right through Elston and sent him to his backside. 

“Obviously, we’re taught to run violently,” Scott said. “But we don’t really know what the defense is going to do. It’s thud, but there are situations like the other day where you don’t know what’s going to happen. I just did the best I could to keep my legs going and went from there.”

Scott said the hit he took from Singleton was one of the first bang-bang plays of his career. He left practice briefly to get checked for a concussion, but returned and had a nice run later in the day.  

“It’s a part of the game. I liked it,” he said. “I took the hit and got back up.”  

5. During team drills, Miles Sanders showed a nice burst through the line and then tucked the ball high and tight. A few defenders took swipes at the ball, but he had quite a grip on it. Sanders had a slight ball security problem at Penn State, but it seems like he’s working on it. 

6. We all know Jim Schwartz doesn’t blitz a ton, but the defense worked on it today. He was sending safeties, corners and linebackers on different occasions. On one early, safety Godwin Igwebuike got in the backfield. On another, Kamu Grugier-Hill got a “sack” on Wentz. 

7. Rookie quarterback Clayton Thorson had a rough day. He missed several throws and one by a mile that soared about 10 yards out of bounds. It looks like it’s taking him a little bit of time to adjust to this level. 

8. Without Mack Hollins, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Marken Michel and Greg Ward got some extra reps. I thought Ward had another nice day in what has been a good camp for him. 

9. Jordan Howard had a drop on one play and on another, his timing coming out of the backfield seemed slightly off. He’s a guy who hasn’t caught too many passes in his career and it’s definitely not his strength. There were some moments in OTAs where he looked smooth as a receiver, but there have now been some plays that have me questioning that in camp. He doesn’t have to turn into LaDainian Tomlinson, but it would be nice to see him at least offer some threat as a receiver out of the backfield. 

10. Zach Ertz made an impressive left-handed grab on a football out in front of him during 2-on-2 drills. With all the balls going to the receivers and Dallas Goedert, we can’t forget about the guy who caught 116 passes last season. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: Over the last few years, Noah the bald eagle from the Elmwood Park Zoo has become a staple of training camp at the NovaCare Complex. Noah fell 80 feet as a chick and suffered brain and eye injuries, but he’s normally a hit at camp. Noah wasn’t at camp today. Instead, when I went to see him, a different eagle named Reggie was there. Reggie seemed a little more spry, but I still miss Noah. 

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

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Eagle Eye: How bad was this loss to the Patriots?

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the Patriots at the Linc. 

After a quick start, the offense disappeared. Receivers are still an issue. And Carson Wentz deserves blame too. 

At least the defense showed up, though. 

• Big takeaways from the loss
• The offense completely collapsed
• Yeah, receivers are still a problem 
• Carson Wentz is not without fault 
• Some wicked good defense  
• Why wait so long to sign Ajayi? 
• Where do the Eagles go from here? 

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Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

Nelson Agholor’s missed catch caps miserable performance from Eagles’ WRs

With one play, Nelson Agholor could have erased what was an otherwise miserable offensive afternoon for the Eagles at the Linc against the Patriots. 

He couldn’t do it. 

The ball popped out of Agholor’s hands in the back of the end zone on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. It was a play that could have tied the game. That pretty much sealed the Eagles’ 17-10 loss to the reigning Super Bowl champs (see Roob's observations).

It was a frustrating end to what was another frustrating performance from the Eagles’ wide receiver group, this time without Alshon Jeffery, who missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. 

“We gotta be better,” Agholor said. “I mean, that’s the reality of it. There’s no excuse. We just gotta be better.” 

Carson Wentz certainly didn’t have his best performance and he even missed a couple big throws on the penultimate drive that could have tied the game. But with 1:05 left, he was able to get off that fourth-down pass with pressure in his face and hit Agholor in the hands in the back of the end zone. 

Agholor, who has been having an unfortunate contract season, said he tried to track the ball over his shoulder and actually thought he did a good job of tracking it. 

“Yeah, I did,” Agholor answered when asked if he tracked the ball well. “If anything, I kind of hit the ground and that’s when I lost it.”

But it looked like Agholor might have overrun the ball and then had to contort his body in an attempt to haul it in. His knee did hit the ground hard and he grabbed it in pain after the play. 

There might have been some wind too. 

"The ball did travel weird, but at the end of the day, it’s the NFL, you gotta find a way to track it down," Agholor said. "And I thought I followed it. On the way down, I kind of hit the ground hard and moved it." 

Once again on Sunday, the Eagles didn’t get nearly enough production from their wide receivers. This time, they were without Jeffery, but the lack of plays from that position has been a trend the entire season, even with him. 

Look at Sunday’s receiving numbers for the Birds: 

Tight ends and running backs: 14 catches, 139 yards, 1 TD 

Receivers: 6 catches, 75 yards  

And until that second-to-last drive, the Eagles’ receivers had just 22 receiving yards. So that group went nearly the entire game without making any significant impact. 

Without Jeffery, you can certainly say this group isn’t talented enough. But Agholor is getting paid $9.4 million, JJ Arcega-Whiteside was a second-round pick and Jordan Matthews, although he’s been back just a week, has had a relatively productive NFL career. Even Mack Hollins made plays in two games earlier this year. 

Agholor: 4 catches on 9 targets, 40 yards

Arcega-Whiteside: 1 catch on 1 target, 29 yards 

Jordan Matthews: 1 catch on 6 targets, 6 yards 

Mack Hollins: 1 target

“Everybody’s gotta step up, meaning me,” Agholor said. “I only had, what, four catches? I gotta make more plays.”

It would certainly help if the Eagles got some more plays from their receivers, but at this point in the season, it’s unrealistic to expect a switch to get flipped. The Eagles have had most of their success with long drives, dinking and dunking their way down the field. 

For months, the Eagles have said the chunk plays are coming. They’re not. 

Why is Wentz so confident they’ll get more firepower from these players? 

“For me, I get to see all these guys at practice,” Wentz said. “I think everyone in here and in the public doesn’t get to see it. So I have a lot of confidence in the guys that when their number’s called, they’re going to make plays.”

Maybe Wentz has confidence — and maybe he should — but it would be misguided for anyone else to have it. These receivers kind of are what they are at this point. Was anyone really surprised Agholor failed to haul in that catch at the end of the game? 

I didn’t think so. 

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