Maybe it was just the early stages of heat stroke, but I think I saw the future on Tuesday morning.
During the most intense practice of the summer thus far, the Eagles’ first-team offense scored touchdowns against the first-team defense on back-to-back drives. And it wasn’t Zach Ertz who scored. It wasn’t Jordan Howard or Darren Sproles or Alshon Jeffery or DeSean Jackson or Nelson Agholor or any of the many talented veterans this roster boasts.
The touchdowns came from two rookies.
Aside from making us all realize just how ridiculously deep the Eagles are at their skill positions heading into the season, those two touchdowns from JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Miles Sanders also offered a glimpse into what the future might hold for the Birds.
These two might be good. And they might be good for a long time.
I speak for Miles when I say this: we hold ourselves to a high standard,” Arcega-Whiteside said on Tuesday afternoon. “That’s what we expect to do, to make big plays. Whether you’re a rookie or you’re a vet. The vets have that same mentality. They want us to step up and be big playmakers because at the end of the day, we want to win.
It’s funny because as soon as Miles scored, I went up to him and said, ‘Hey man, we’re doing this thing. So let’s keep pushing.’
• Arcega-Whiteside was the first to score on Tuesday. A quick pass for Agholor was tipped into his hands and then he ran 80 yards for the touchdown, even avoiding a diving attempt from Rasul Douglas near the goal line.
“That’s exactly how we drew it up,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “Tip it back to me and I’ll go run for a touchdown. Nah, just kidding. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
After an impressive spring, Arcega-Whiteside has been relatively quiet so far during camp, but maybe this touchdown is just what he needed to break out.
• Sanders’ touchdown came on the next series. He capped off an 80-yard drive with around a 5-yard plunge into the end zone.
Even though Sanders missed spring practices, he hasn’t looked behind during training camp. In fact, he’s putting together an impressive summer. On Tuesday, that also included catching a 15-yard pass on a wheel route.
“We’re the younger guys on the team so we have the duty to do something great or do whatever it takes to make ourselves noticeable,” Sanders said. “I was excited for him.”
And Arcega-Whiteside was excited for Sanders.
Both being second-round picks, they arrived to Philly on the same day for their introductory press conferences and used that day to get to know each other a little bit too. Since then, they’ve kept in touch and have leaned on each other as they get acclimated to NFL life and their duties as rookies.
They’ll continue to lean on each other too. As Sanders said, they’re going to try to help each other avoid hitting that “rookie wall” they’ve heard so much about.
“My only goal,” a humble Sanders said, “is to really prove to the vets that I belong on this team.”
He and Arcega-Whiteside are proving that and more.
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