Eagles

Nate Sudfeld returns to practice a month after surgery

Nate Sudfeld returns to practice a month after surgery

Quarterback Nate Sudfeld was back at practice on a limited basis Wednesday, his first work since he broke his wrist a month ago.

Sudfeld broke his left (non-throwing) wrist in the preseason opener against the Titans at the Linc on Aug. 8 and underwent surgery the next day.

“I was like a kid in a candy store,” Sudfeld said after practice. “It was so much fun just being out there and running around a little bit.”

Sudfeld had his surgically repaired left wrist taped up with a soft cast underneath it. He remains limited in what he can do, but it was a big step for the third-year quarterback.

Since Sudfeld got hurt, the Eagles signed 40-year-old veteran Josh McCown, who is currently Carson Wentz's backup. They also released Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson and added former New York Giant Kyle Lauletta to their practice squad.  

The Eagles signed Sudfeld to their practice squad just before the 2017 season after he was released by the Redskins, who drafted him in the sixth round in the spring of 2016 and hoped to get him onto their practice squad.

He’s 20-for-25 for 156 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions and a 106.0 passer rating in very limited action as a pro. He was Nick Foles' backup throughout the 2017 and 2018 postseason runs.

The Eagles also list Derek Barnett (shoulder) and Fletcher Cox (toe) as limited, both with their injuries lingering from last year, although both played on Sunday and are expected to play in Atlanta this weekend.

Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee sprain) and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata (back) are both out indefinitely and did not practice.

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Some Eagles staff members returning to NovaCare Complex later this week

Some Eagles staff members returning to NovaCare Complex later this week

The Eagles closed down the NovaCare Complex back on March 13 but are expected to begin the process of opening their facility later this week. 

The latest from NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Derrick Gunn: 

This is just the first step toward getting back to normal but it doesn’t mean the Eagles will be back to practice immediately. As Gunn said, this does lead us all to believe the Eagles will be able to have training camp in South Philadelphia beginning in late July. 

June 5, the date the Eagles will welcome back some employees, is the date the City of Philadelphia is expected to enter the yellow phase of the state’s plan to re-open Pennsylvania. 

Under the yellow phase, professional sports teams are also allowed to practice and play, without fans, if they develop a COVID-19 safety plan that is approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. 

While the Eagles would be allowed to practice at the NovaCare Complex under state regulations as early as June 5, the NFL will not allow any teams to practice until all 32 teams are allowed to practice based on their own state rules. 

Back on May 15, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo to teams about re-opening their facilities: 

NFL coaching staffs aren’t currently allowed in team facilities when they open for “equity” purposes. Individual teams are allowed to pick which employees can return to the facility — personnel, football operations, administrative staff, equipment staff, medical staff, nutrition staff, etc. — but the total number may not exceed 75. 

Those are the types of employees who will be back at the NovaCare Complex later this week. 

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NFL 2020 tight end rankings: Could Zach Ertz miss the top-four cut?

NFL 2020 tight end rankings: Could Zach Ertz miss the top-four cut?

Zach Ertz has been an elite pass-catching tight end basically since 2014, his second season with the Eagles. His size, route-running, and athleticism makes him a near-impossible matchup for defenses.

But Ertz turns 30 this November, and he has a TE1-in-waiting sitting behind him on the depth chart in Dallas Goedert. Is 2020 the year we see him take a step out of the elite tight end ranks?

The folks over at Pro Football Focus think, even if it's not a big step, Ertz won't be a top four tight end in the NFL this season. They projected receiving totals, and instead of Ertz rounding out the top four, as most would expect, they have...

Rob Gronkowski?

Yep:

There's a lot to take in here. Let's look at some things that aren't Ertz.

For one, Mark Andrews at No. 1 would be quite a jump for the third-year tight end. He's had two great seasons to start his career, but the Ravens aren't a pass-happy offense. I don't see the yards piling up like this.

The Raiders' Darren Waller had 1,145 yards last year. It's possible he's a one-year wonder, and it's likely rookie Henry Ruggs III sees Waller get fewer targets, but having Gronkowski over Waller is... odd.

As for Gronk, he hasn't played a 16-game season since 2011, and he went for just 682 yards in his most recent NFL season. Is he well-rested enough to return to 2017 form? Maybe. But with stud wideouts like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin available for Tom Brady, there likely aren't enough targets in Tampa Bay to push Gronk to 999 yards.

Now, for Ertz. Ertz has reached 999 yards in a season just once: 1,163 yards in 2018. He saw his yards number tumble last year, but the whole team really took a step back, and Dallas Goedert became more comfortable in the offense. Ertz is still a stud until proven otherwise, and I think he's still a top-four tight end. 

Of course, with rookie Jalen Reagor catching passes, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both ostensibly healthy, and Goedert continuing to grow, Ertz could either see his pass-catching opportunities get easier... or see his targets dry up. So it's not unthinkable that he finishes with, say, 825 yards in 2020.

But I certainly don't think he'll finish lower than a recently-unretired Gronk.

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