Carlton Agudosi

Eagles practice observations: Some good news for defensive starters

Eagles practice observations: Some good news for defensive starters

It was a scorcher in South Philly as the Eagles got back to practice for the first time since Thursday’s game. 

Sunday’s practice was a lighter 10-10-10 day so there wasn’t a ton to observe, but that will change on Monday and Tuesday with the Ravens in town for joint practices.

Both of those joint practices will be “thud” practices in pads in the heat of the afternoon sun. Should be fun. 

For now, here are today’s notes/observations: 

1. Josh Sweat missed today’s practice with a knee injury and is day-to-day. Early word is that it’s nothing serious, but with his history of knee injuries, this is something to keep an eye on. Speaking of knee injuries, a couple reporters also noticed that Paul Worrilow missed practice; he was released after practice.

Cody Kessler (concussion) was a spectator. 

2. Good news for the Eagles on Sunday as their best player was back on the field. After working out inside recently, Fletcher Cox was a limited participant. He went through warmups and individual drills. Not quite ready for team drills, but this is very positive. 

3. There was plenty of other good news as well: 

• CB Ronald Darby (knee) participated in 11-on-11 drills for the first time this summer. 

• LB Nigel Bradham (toe) participated in 7-on-7s for the first time. 

• TE Richard Rodgers (foot) returned to practice for the first time since early August. 

• DT Hassan Ridgeway (concussion) was back at practice. 

• RG Brandon Brooks has been cleared for 1-on-1s.

• S Rodney McLeod continues to do 11-on-11s and ditched the knee brace today. 

4. With Darby back for 11-on-11s, he manned the first team LCB spot, while Sidney Jones and then Rasul Douglas rotated at RCB. Avonte Maddox was the nickel. It seems like Darby will be one of the Eagles’ starters, but Jones and Douglas (and possibly Maddox) are still competing to take the other starting job. 

5. Josh McCown was at practice but didn’t take any team reps. That meant Carson Wentz was the 1 and Clayton Thorson was the 2. Thorson had some good throws on Sunday, but also had some wild overthrows. 

6. Wentz, who had a sharp day, threw a beautiful deep ball to Mack Hollins, who did everything but catch it. Hollins tracked the ball with Josh Hawkins in coverage and got it in his hands but dropped it as he hit the field inside the 10 yard line. It was one he should have had. 

7. Thorson threw a touchdown pass to tall receiver Carlton Agudosi in the red zone. It was kind of unfair to Orlando Scandrick in coverage. Agudosi is 6-6 and Scandrick is 5-10. Agudosi barely left his feet.

8. Like we said, sharp day for Wentz, who looks spry. 

9. New offensive lineman Brett Toth (the Army guy) practiced today. The 6-6 lineman is listed at 290 and wants to get to 315. He looks like he needs that extra weight. 

10. The Eagles still use Andrew Sendejo as the third safety in their dime package. While Johnathan Cyprien should still make the roster and can find a role in some unique packages, it seems like Sendejo is still ahead of him. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: I was proud of this one: 

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Eagles training camp observations, Day 7: Fun in the red zone

Eagles training camp observations, Day 7: Fun in the red zone

The Eagles had a lengthy practice in pads that lasted from 9:15 to around 11:45 a.m. on Thursday.

Despite the long practice, there was just one injury. Miles Sanders left briefly after hurting his foot, but said he’s fine. 

Plenty of observations before a day off Friday.

Let’s get right to it: 

1. The Eagles did a ton of red zone work today in 11-on-11s, 7-on-7s and even 2-on-2s, so that’s where a lot of today’s observations will come from. 

We’ll start with the first 11-on-11 period in the red zone that was dominated by the defense. Carson Wentz had two incompletions to Charles Johnson on the first two plays. After Jordan Howard punched in a touchdown, Wentz threw a short pass to Richard Rodgers who couldn’t get in the end zone and then threw an interception to Sidney Jones. It looked like there was a miscommunication and Rodgers never looked back. 

2. Let’s talk about Jones. He's been great, but it’s not just him either. All three starting corners (Jones, Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox) have played well this summer. But Jones is really standing out to me. He’s making big plays every day and that interception wasn’t even his best moment of Thursday’s practice. That came in a later 11-on-11 period, when he read Wentz and jumped a pass in front of Nelson Agholor. It was nearly picked and he would have had a lot of green in front of him. Still, a huge play. I'm beginning to think he never gives that starting spot back. 

3. After struggling a bit in the first red-zone period, Wentz dominated 2-on-2s in the red zone. He threw three pretty incredible touchdown passes to Agholor. The first was just on a rope on a slant. The second came after Agholor put a nifty move on Orlando Scandrick and Wentz hit him over the top. And the third was another perfect pass where only Agholor could get it and he did, leaping over a defender to haul it in. 

During that period, Wentz also hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside on a fade. This wasn’t Wentz’s best day in team drills (he actually had a poor day there), but he dominated this period. 

4. A late entry for the training camp hero of 2019 is 6-foot-6 receiver Carlton Agudosi, who made a few impressive plays today. He even got a shoutout from Doug Pederson following practice. During 7-on-7s, Agudosi came down with three touchdowns as he made catches over DBs. The first was a questionable ruling from the “back judge” because it looked like his momentum took him out of the back of the end zone, but we’ll count it. It was a perfect throw from Nate Sudfeld. The next one came over Jeremiah McKinnon in the back left corner of the end zone. And the third came on a catch over Jay Liggins in the right side of the end zone. 

What impresses me about the Rutgers product is his spacial awareness. A lot of times these big receivers know how to use their bodies but don’t know how to get their feet in bounds. It seems like Agudosi always knows where he is. He doesn’t have much of a shot to make the roster, but could be a practice squad guy.  

5. During defensive install (without linemen), the Eagles had Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nigel Bradham and Zach Brown out there. This is the first time I’ve seen Brown work with the ones in camp (although I’m told he was with the ones during install earlier in camp). The interesting thing was that it looked like Bradham was at the MIKE position. I’m not sure how this shakes out, but these three were the three I assumed would be the starters, but Brown has been working with the twos during team drills. Nate Gerry has been with the starters over him. 

6. Just after Agholor and Wentz dominated the 2-on-2 period, they came back in 11-on-11s from the 20-yard line and tried a deep ball. Agholor got separation and Wentz threw an incredible pass, but Agholor couldn’t come down with it. It hit his hands, but Douglas might have knocked it away late. After the ball hit the ground, Agholor landed on Douglas and fake punched him a few times. 

7. Grugier-Hill had another interception today. This one came in 7-on-7s, when he leaped up to snag a Wentz pass that had some velocity. Earlier in 7-on-7s, he broke up a pass on Greg Ward and nearly had another pick. KGH makes plays every day. 

8. After the offense struggled for a bit to get into the end zone, Wentz hit Darren Sproles on a short slant and Sproles navigated his way across the goal line through a few flying bodies, one belonging to a charging Andrew Sendejo. He might be 36 now, but Sproles still gets up for this stuff. After he scored the touchdown, he popped to his feet and emphatically spiked the ball. 

9. At times, I’ve seen Jordan Howard not look natural in a pass catcher role, but he made a nice grab today. Running down the right sideline, he plucked a ball out of the air over linebacker Joey Alfieri on a really nice toss from Wentz. Probably a 20-yard-or-so gain. 

10. The funniest moment of Thursday’s practice came when Josh Hawkins knocked away a pass intended for Dallas Goedert near the right sideline. The ball hit the ground and the fans on that sideline (the practices at the NovaCare Complex have select fans invited) didn’t make a sound. So Hawkins asked for a little and they began to cheer. One even shouted, “Big play, Hawk!” 

On the next snap, Hawkins was beaten for a touchdown on an inside move by Arcega-Whiteside, who got him leaning. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: This is some of my finest work ever with my iPhone. Had to utilize the slow-motion feature. 

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Eagles have intriguing depth at WR beyond Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor

Eagles have intriguing depth at WR beyond Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor

The Eagles have three pretty darn good wide receivers in Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor.

That’s probably the best three-deep depth chart the Eagles have ever had at receiver and no doubt one of the best in the NFL.

But they’ll keep at least five. Last year, they kept six — Jeffery, Agholor, Mike Wallace, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter. So there’ll be a tremendous amount of competition this summer, and it’s going to be fascinating to watch.

The Eagles will probably also draft a receiver, and that could come fairly early. With the draft a week and a half away, here’s a look at what the Eagles have beyond the Big Three.

2017 draft picks

Mack Hollins

Hollins, a fourth-round pick out of North Carolina, did some good things as a rookie, with 16 catches for 226 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown against the Redskins and some excellent work on special teams.

Hollins missed all of last year with a mysterious groin injury that wasn’t considered serious during the preseason, but he’s got great size at 6-4, 220, and got a lot of good experience as a rookie, so he’s probably most likely at this point to be the fourth wideout.

Shelton Gibson

A fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, Gibson has only three catches to show for two NFL seasons. It was kind of odd last year that he caught a 48-yarder against the Vikings, then got just 12 snaps on offense the rest of the year and was never targeted again.

Gibson also played less and less on special teams as last year went on, which isn’t a good sign. 

Futures contracts

Braxton Miller

A really intriguing prospect, and the Eagles seem to like the former Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist who converted to wideout. Miller spent all last year on the practice squad, so the Eagles know how athletic he is. 

Miller caught 34 passes in two seasons with the Texans. He’s only 26, he’s played at the highest level in college, and he knows this offense now. Keep an eye on him in camp.

Carlton Agudosi

Agudosi, a former Rutgers receiver from Franklin Township High in Somerset County, New Jersey, split the 2017 season on the Cards’ active roster and practice squad but was out of football last year.

He didn’t play a lot in college, but at 6-6, 220, he’s got unusual size and that could get him a good look this summer.

Johnny Holton

Holton played at Cincinnati before bouncing on and off the Raiders’ active roster and practice squad as both a receiver and cornerback. 

Now 27, Holton has only 11 career catches but three of them have gone for 44 or more yards, all from Derek Carr in 2017. Interesting speed prospect.

Dorren Miller

Raw prospect who played at JUCO Georgia Military College and Division II Carson-Newman, Miller ran a 4.39 coming out of school, which opened a lot of eyes. 

He was in camp last year with the Jaguars and then spent all year on the practice squad. 

Marken Michel 

Michel was in camp with the Vikings in 2016 and then spent three seasons in the CFL with the Calgary Stampeders, catching 72 passes for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns.

His brother is Patriots running back Sony Michel.

AAF refugees

Greg Ward Jr.

Ward remains an intriguing prospect. Former Houston quarterback who led the Cougars to a Peach Bowl win over No. 9 Florida State, he’s three years into his conversion as a wide receiver.

Ward, still only 23, got a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles in 2017 as a member of the practice squad but was released after camp last year and didn’t get a job until the AAF came along. He caught 22 passes for 214 yards playing for the San Antonio Commanders before the league was disolved earlier this month.

Charles Johnson

CJ2 was a seventh-round pick of the Packers in 2013 and is 30 years old, so kind of unusual for a camp body. 

He bounced around with the Packers, Browns, Vikings, Panthers and Jets, piling up 60 catches for 834 yards and two TDs in three seasons in Minnesota.

Johnson spent this past winter with the Orlando Apollos of the AAF, where he caught 45 passes for 687 yards. In a game against the Commanders, he had seven catches for 192 yards and a touchdown from Apollos QB Garrett Gilbert.

Keep an eye on Johnson. The Eagles gave him a $25,000 workout bonus, which is a sign that they really wanted him.

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