Donnel Pumphrey wasn’t known as a big-time receiver at San Diego State. The Eagles’ second fourth-round pick rushed for 6,405 yards and 62 touchdowns in 54 career games, becoming the all-time total offense leader in Division I-A history. But he caught just 99 passes for 1,039 yards and five touchdowns — fewer than two receptions and 20 yards per game and about one touchdown per season.
But to play in the Andy Reid/Doug Pederson/Frank Reich offense, you need to be a weapon in the receiving game, and Reich said Wednesday that Pumphrey surprised the coaches with his ability to catch the football during OTAs and three-day rookie camp this week.
“I think he's exceeded expectations in that area,” Reich, the Eagles’ second-year offensive coordinator, said. “I think that's something that we saw.
“There were flashes — (but) he wasn't used a lot like that in college. But we thought there were some things there that that could be a part where he could develop at. I think he's developed faster in that area than maybe anticipated.”
Pumphrey’s best receiving game in college was a 2-for-64 performance — a 40-yard catch and 24-yard touchdown — in a win over Air Force in 2015. He had one or fewer catches in more than half his career games.
But Pumphrey has secured the ball well in practice and has looked comfortable in the passing game. Comfortable enough to get Reich’s attention.
“You temper that just because the bullets aren't live yet,” Reich said. “But [I am] very encouraged by his progress, for sure.”
Sidney Jones isn’t practicing and he’s nowhere close to practicing. But he is participating in practice.
Jones, the promising rookie cornerback, is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery in March to repair the torn Achilles he suffered during his pro day.
But that hasn’t stopped Jones, a second-round pick out of Washington, from spending his mornings out on the practice field with the other defensive backs, watching the drills intently, talking to the coaches and other cornerbacks and even mimicking some of the drills without actually participating in them.
He's not practicing, but Sidney Jones is getting some mental work in with the d-backs and coach Cory Undlin. pic.twitter.com/YdN9yVUE6d— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) July 26, 2017
On Wednesday, defensive backs coach Cory Undlin worked closely with each cornerback present at rookie camp on the finer details of their stance and initial movement following the snap of the football.
While the other corners took off and ran full-speed after implementing what Undlin had just shown them, Jones — wearing a baseball cap instead of a helmet — simply took a couple deliberate steps and then walked off the field.
Undlin said last month that when the speed of practice picks up, Jones likely won’t be on the sidelines, just for his own safety. But it was good to see him at practice this week. Even if he wasn’t quite practicing.
Real camp starts now
The first three days of training camp saw just 34 Eagles take the field. And it was honestly pretty boring. Tight ends coach Justin Peele had just one player to coach, Mack Hollins needed to long-snap, and it all just felt like OTAs.
That changes now.
The rest of the Eagles veterans needed to report to the NovaCare Complex by noon Wednesday, heading into the first team practice on Thursday afternoon. But before that 12:45 practice Thursday, every player will have to pass a conditioning test in the morning. That's where we find out who has been staying in football shape while away.
Thursday's practice is what the Eagles call a "10-10-10" practice, which basically means it's just really light. The first real practice of training camp kicks off at 8:15 a.m. on Friday.
On Saturday (7/29), the Eagles have their first open practice at Lincoln Financial Field. (The other open practice is on Aug. 6.) Both open practices begin at 10 a.m. Tickets aren't required but seats are first-come, first-serve.
The Eagles' first preseason game is on Aug. 10 against the Packers in Green Bay. Pederson said he plans on having two live (tackle to the ground) periods before that first game.