We’ve already updated our five Eagles position battles three times since the start of training camp, but it’s time to do it again.
We have the last days of training camp and the game against the Patriots to judge.
Let’s jump in:
8/11: Sidney Jones practices after suffering a sprained left ankle in the game, but doesn’t do 11-on-11 drills. De’Vante Bausby starts the day as the nickel corner, but rookie Avonte Maddox also gets some first-team reps. This is the first time we’ve seen Maddox with the starters.
8/12: After getting some first-team reps yesterday, Maddox gets all the first-team reps. He’s come really far and gets praised by Jim Schwartz after practice. It’s possible he has overtaken Bausby on the depth chart. Jones is back doing 11-on-11s but works with the second team.
8/13: Maddox again gets first-team reps and has his best day of camp. He gets an interception and several batted passes. Jones works with the second team, has a rough day, but comes up with a huge pick-6 late in the practice.
8/14: Maddox again gets work with the first team. Jones comes on as the LCB after Mills leaves practice early.
Preseason game 2: Ronald Darby and Rasul Douglas start the game outside (Mills is out) and Jones starts in the slot. But Maddox quickly rotates in. Both Jones and Maddox give up a touchdown but do some good too.
Updated prediction: The Eagles have given Maddox a lot of time with the first team, but I think it’s still clearly Jones’ job. But it also seems like Maddox might have passed Bausby on the depth chart.
8/11: As we’ve seen for a long time, Nate Gerry gets first-team reps, but only at the start of 11-on-11s. Finally, Kamu Grugier-Hill gets worked in with the ones. Not sure why this took so long, but KGH definitely deserves the extra reps.
8/12: The Eagles weren’t in their base package very much today, but KGH gets the minimal first-team reps. Interestingly enough, at one point Gerry and Grugier-Hill were the two linebackers in the first-team nickel package. They’re not overtaking Jordan Hicks or Nigel Bradham, but maybe coaches wanted to see them side by side with the ones.
8/13: Gerry picked off a pass at point-blank range. When the Eagles use their jumbo package, Hicks, Bradham, Gerry and Joe Walker are out there.
8/14: Gerry gets first-team reps, but Walker is on the field in the jumbo package again.
Preseason game 2: As has been the case for a while, Gerry gets the start ahead of Grugier-Hill at the WILL. He has a good game but plays a lot longer than I would have anticipated. Both guys get in with the first team at WILL, but Gerry stays on the field in the jumbo package, with Hicks, Bradham and Joe Walker.
Updated prediction: We haven’t even mentioned Corey Nelson in a while; that’s how little impact he’s made. Gerry is the frontrunner, but KGH has been really good too. If nothing else, the Eagles’ linebacker depth is a little better than we first thought.
8/11: The starting line of Long, Cox, Vaeao and Barnett remains the same. Michael Bennett continues to get worked in for Vaeao on third downs, creating a scary, scary line. Elijah Qualls bounces back from a penalty-filled game to make a TFL and does well in 1-on-1s.
8/12: For the first time for a non-rotational reason, we see Haloti Ngata get first-team reps at DT instead of Vaeao. Bennett gets work inside on clear passing downs.
8/13: Didn’t see too much new with the starters, but keep an eye on rookie Bruce Hector. Hector has been working with the second-team defensive line ahead of Qualls at times.
8/14: Ngata gets some first-team reps next to Fletcher Cox again. The Eagles might be preparing him to start Week 1 very soon.
Preseason game 2: Big day for Ngata, who starts next to Cox. And Ngata makes some plays; really the first time we’ve seen evidence he still has something left to give. That’s a great sign for the Eagles. A lot of Bennett inside and not just on third downs. Vaeao doesn’t start but shows some good pass-rush ability.
Updated prediction: For a long time, it looked like Vaeao was going to be able to hold off Ngata. Don’t think that’s happening. Expect the old vet to start next to Cox until Tim Jernigan is ready to return.
8/11: Donnel Pumphrey misses practice again, but Matt Jones returns. Corey Clement was also not at practice after apparently suffering an injury during the first preseason game. Without some bodies, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood both got some work with the first team.
8/12: Still no Pumphrey or Clement. Pump wasn’t even out watching practice; Clement showed up late with a compression sleeve on his calf. It seems clear the Eagles are more interested in getting Adams and Smallwood reps with the ones and twos than Jones.
8/13: Pump and Clement are still out. Adams is having a good day until he pulls up lame after a run play in the red zone. He doesn’t get back in.
8/14: Adams misses practice after pulling up lame yesterday. Pump and Corey Clement each miss today as well. That means Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones get all the reps.
Preseason game 2: Adams and Pumphrey sit with their injuries, which gave Jones and Smallwood plenty of opportunities. They didn’t make the most of them. Smallwood had one yard on four carries, while Jones dropped three passes. Ajayi, minus one bad play in pass pro, head a good night.
Updated prediction: I still think one of those last four running backs is going to make the roster, but I have no idea which one. For now, I think Smallwood has a slight advantage.
8/11: Corey Graham made a nice play on a receiver and would have popped him in a real game.
8/12: Not much here. Graham and Sullivan continue to work with the second team, with Stephen Roberts being the next guy up of note.
8/13: Trey Sullivan has a really good day, making a few plays in the end zone.
8/14: Not much again. Graham is the next guy up, but Sullivan gets some significant snaps too.
Preseason game 2: Graham gets on the field early as a safety so Malcolm Jenkins can play nickel corner a little. Jeremy Reaves has a nice game but gets called for a new helmet penalty. Stephen Roberts gets hurt.
Updated prediction: This battle hasn’t been much of one for a while. Graham is the third safety. Trey Sullivan is likely on the roster because of Chris Maragos’ injury. Maybe Reaves can sneak on the practice squad.