It was a hot one at the NovaCare Complex and as the mercury on the thermometers rose, so did the intensity of training camp.
Thursday was the most intense practice of the seven so far. After a day in shorts and shells, the Eagles were back in full pads and had several live tackling periods, including goal-line work from the 1-yard line.
That’s where we absolutely have to start:
1. First-team offense vs. first-team defense from the 1-yard line. Doesn’t get any better than that in training camp. The session opened up with Corey Clement as the single back. Clement got the carry and punched in the score.
After two failed attempts — one was an incompletion and one came when Clement got stuffed — Zach Ertz made the play of the day.
Nick Foles threw the ball a little high, but Ertz was able to bring it in, before diving and reaching his arm with the ball across the goal line for a touchdown. We’ve all been enamored with rookie Dallas Goedert, but it’s worth remembering just how good Ertz is.
2. The next most impressive play from the goal line period came from Michael Bennett and Aziz Shittu, who absolutely blew up a play and took down Wendell Smallwood in the backfield for a loss of a few. Bennett against second-team offensive linemen is not fair.
3. The intensity rose, but so did the chance for injury and we saw that today. Josh Sweat and Richard Rodgers were injured during this period. Didn’t see what happened to Sweat, but he limped off and went inside. Rodgers was punished by Kamu Grugier-Hill in the end zone and seemed to be holding his wrist, but then also appeared to be favoring his shoulder. Either way, he went in early and his day was done too.
Shelton Gibson (concussion) and Haloti Ngata (veteran rest day) were not practicing. Matt Jones (lower body) came out for the start of practice but finished very early. He seemed like he couldn’t get his leg loose. Greg Ward turned his ankle during receiver drills but got it taped and returned.
4. With intensity ramped up, we almost had our first fight of training camp. Almost. It came in a different 11-on-11 full-contact drill, not goal line. It was on the far field, so it was a little tough to see what started it, but it seemed like Bennett and Chris Long got into it with Rodgers. Just some pushing and shoving. No swings.
5. The Eagles did something different today with their nickel defense. Sidney Jones came on the field, but played outside, while Jalen Mills moved into the nickel corner spot. That has always been a possibility and I’m surprised it took this long to see it in camp.
Nate Gerry was the guy on the field in the base package at WILL, but Grugier-Hill had a great day. He was making plays all over the field when he was in there. When the Eagles went with four linebackers on the field, Joe Walker was the next guy up.
6. During 7-on-7s, rookie safety Ryan Neal made the most impressive play I have seen from a defensive back this camp. After Nate Sudfeld threw the ball behind tight end Joshua Perkins, Perkins tipped the ball enough to change its trajectory but not pop up in the air. Neal, as he was diving backward, somehow managed to reach out his right hand and bring in the ball for an interception.
7. Bryce Treggs (knee) was activated from the Active/Non-football Injury list and had a good first day. Of course, it helps to have fresh legs after everyone else has practiced for six days, but Treggs made the most of his chances. He’s on the bubble but still in the mix for a job.
8. You’re waiting to hear about Carson Wentz, aren’t you? Well, he didn’t do any 11-on-11 drills for the fourth straight day. After Wednesday's session, Doug Pederson answered all the questions about that (see story). We won’t get into that too much today, but instead, I’ll just talk about his performance. Wentz did 7-on-7s and didn’t look good during the period. On one play, his receiver slipped and fell to the ground, but for whatever reason, Wentz was locked on him and threw the ball anyway. It was picked.
I wonder if the lack of reps is affecting his rhythm. It’s gotta be hard to get in a flow when you’re stuck watching the real action. I think we’ve seen that over the last couple of days. The good news: In everything I saw him do today, he looked healthy.
Another day of practice for No. 11. pic.twitter.com/l18XkNEwbh— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) August 2, 2018
9. I spent a lot of time watching 1-on-1 drills between receivers and DBs. Here are a few takeaways:
- Rashard Davis is deadly in these drills. It seems like no one can match with his lightning quickness, including Mills, who was on the wrong side of one juke move. He also shook Avonte Maddox and De’Vante Bausby. Davis doesn’t seem to have a good shot at the roster, but practice squad is possible.
- It wasn’t a good few reps for Bausby. He was juked by rookie Tim Wilson and then let rookie Anthony Mahoungou run right past him down the sideline.
- Great battle between Mike Wallace and Ronald Darby. Wallace ended up out-fighting Darby for the ball, but it’s clear when you see two top guys going at it, that it’s on another level.
- I thought DeAndre Carter looked pretty shifty too. Carter, who keeps playing after a promise to his dying brother (see story), is a super long shot but is doing well since signing Saturday.
10. Jordan Mailata had a good block on a goal-line run to get Josh Adams into the end zone. Mailata obviously has a long way to go, but I’m starting to understand why the coaching staff wanted him as a project.
Earlier in the practice, though, Mailata didn’t fare so well against Steven Means. I missed this drill to watch 7-on-7s, but our own Barrett Brooks told me Means simply dropped the big Aussie.
Means also ended practice with a “sack” of Joe Callahan. As Means did his hammer celebration, the horn sounded to end the day. Almost poetic. Or maybe the heat is getting to me.
Stupid Observation of the Day: It was crazy humid to start practice today. It was funny to see the reactions of players when they left the AC and the heat hit them like a ton of bricks. After practice, the free water ice has become customary for most players. The guys who didn’t grow up in this region understand it’s better than shaved ice or snowballs.
Very important: Wentz likes mango.