Sidney Jones

What's Carson Wentz's take on Eagles' young cornerbacks?

What's Carson Wentz's take on Eagles' young cornerbacks?

You've heard everybody else raving about Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox.

Now it’s Carson Wentz’s turn.

One of the biggest storylines of training camp so far has been the emergence of the Eagles' young cornerbacks while Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, the Super Bowl starters, remain sidelined with lingering injuries dating back to the 2018 season.

Douglas, Jones and Maddox, all 23 years old and with just 25 combined career starts among them, are all enjoying terrific training camps.

Darby has been doing individual drills but still hasn’t done any 7-on-7 or team drills nine months after tearing his ACL against the Cowboys at the Linc last November.

Mills remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list, so he’s not participating in any aspects of practice yet 10 months after initially hurting his foot in the Jaguars game in London last October.

Douglas has been working almost exclusively outside, with Maddox and Jones both getting work inside and outside.

Wentz has enjoyed a very good camp, but the young corners — Jones and Douglas in particular — have made their share of plays against him.

They look good,” Wentz said. “Obviously without Jalen and Darby out there those guys are getting the bulk of the reps and they’re making life difficult. Between those guys and the safeties … (they’re) solid. They present some really difficult looks, they bluff a lot of things and really make it difficult at times. Those three especially have stood out and I think we have a lot of depth there.

With Darby, Mills  and Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot sprain) all out, the other healthy cornerbacks on the roster are recent acquisitions Orlando Scandrick and Alex Brown and camp legs Jay Liggins, Jeremiah McKinnon and Josh Hawkins.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles' trio of young CBs doesn't look ready to give up 1st-team spots

Eagles' trio of young CBs doesn't look ready to give up 1st-team spots

Through the first seven practices of training camp, the Eagles’ starting cornerbacks haven’t changed. 

If they keep playing like this, maybe they shouldn’t. 

The young trio of Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox have had their roles shuffled at times in these first seven practices, but have been the three starters every day so far. Collectively, they have put together a very impressive first week of training camp. 

And I’m not convinced this trio isn’t the Eagles’ best bet. 

That’s saying something, especially considering that Jalen Mills (foot) and Ronald Darby (ACL) — the two starters in Super Bowl LII! — will return at some point from their respective injuries. 

“I love the way they’re playing, I love the way they’re competing,” Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor said. “I also love that they’re making plays on the ball. I think they’ve had a good amount of interceptions and have been sure-handed. That’s pretty cool.”

It just seems like every day these guys are making plays. 

I’ll start with Jones, who, through the first week of training camp, has been a star. He has picked off multiple passes and is showing off that first-round talent the Eagles thought they were getting when they took him with the 43rd pick after his Achilles injury in 2017. That first season was basically a redshirt year. In 2018, he began the season playing fairly well but was then hampered by a lingering hamstring injury. Now he looks healthy, he looks confident, he looks like a completely different player. 

Keeping up with Jones is Douglas, who seems to make plays every day too. While the other two have rotated roles inside and outside, Douglas hasn’t moved. With this current group, he’s been pretty much cemented into his starting role outside. In his first two years in the NFL, Douglas has actually started 12 games, but all as a replacement. Maybe it’s time for him to get one of those roles for good. 

And then there’s Maddox, who hasn’t had as splashy of a first week of training camp as the other two, but has been just as solid. As a rookie last season, he played three different positions and played all three well. Ultimately, his best spot might be as a nickel corner, but the Eagles never turn down versatility. 

The coolest part about this first week is that all three seem to be feeding off the collective group’s success. 

“It’s a great thing,” Jones said. “It’s always a great thing to see your brothers succeed. These are young guys. Obviously, Sul came in with me and Avonte came in last year. We just grow closer together, we grow a bond. We’re happy for each other when we make a play. It’s a team effort. It’s good to see everybody succeeding out here.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Douglas, Jones and Maddox are all still just 23 years old and were all drafted by the Eagles. We’re probably getting a little ahead of ourselves, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that these guys — or at least a couple of them — could be the Eagles’ starting cornerbacks for years to come. 

OK, back to this year. What happens when Darby and Mills are ready to return? That’s a fair question. Darby is much closer than Mills and still has a Week 1 return as his goal. The Eagles signed Darby to a one-year contract worth $6.5 million this offseason, so they probably didn’t pay him to sit him. Mills is still on the PUP list, but we know how much Jim Schwartz likes him. And we haven’t even mentioned Cre’Von LeBlanc, who was injured early in camp but played really well last season. 

“We can’t wait until those guys come back because there will be more competition in the room, more fun,” Maddox said. “And we want to see them on the field as much as we want to be on the field.”

After all the injuries at corner last season, the Eagles are happy to have depth heading into 2019. But we still have over a month to go before the season opener and we’re not sure which three guys will be on the field against Washington. 

The trio I’ve watched for the last week might not be a bad option. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

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. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles