Eagles Camp Observations: Reagor Returns
Saturday‘s training camp practice for the Eagles came with a special twist.
The team held its first evening practice at the NovaCare Complex as part of an NFL Network special.
Many of the veterans who were given a day off Friday returned to action for the prime-time practice.
The Eagles are my third camp tour stop this Summer and it was good to see them practice longer after Friday’s 70-minute workout, which might have been the shortest training camp practice I’ve seen around the NFL since I started covering them in 2002.
For the first time in a while, we had very little humidity (it was more humid during Friday’s practice) and the temps were in the low 80s during the one hour and forty-five minute workout.
General Random Observations
– This has to be one of the more vocal coaching staffs around the NFL and the coaches from both sides of the ball are constantly communicating with their players.
It’s a good mixture of encouragement and on-the-field correction (HC Nick Sirianni, RBs coach Jemal Singleton, DL coach Tracy Rocker, DC Jonathan Gannon come to mind with this.)
Former Eagles HC Chip Kelly did not believe much in on the field corrections; rather he would get those things done in the classroom environment.
– We’re still seeing offensive and defensive numbers wearing the same number: 22 players on offense and defense are doing this (for example: Adrian Killins and Josiah Scott are wearing #46.)
I was hoping that since players now have more freedom to choose numbers that we would stop seeing this–but that ain’t happening.
– Speaking of numbers that are strange to see defensive players wearing: starting CBs Darius Slay (#2) and Steven Nelson (#3).
– One of the things that bothers me at some practices, particularly with new staffs, is there tends to be a lot of standing around. I’ve seen some staffs waste time and while one on ones are going on or there are special teams drills, everyone else stands around doing nothing.
That is not going on with this staff, which is good thing. There was a former Browns HC that ran a camp where there was so much wasted time which they’ll never get back.
– QB Jalen Hurts seemed to check the ball down a bit the last few days, but there’s a reason for that. He’s going up against a new defense, which he didn’t practice against last season (no more wide-9 front), so he’s seeing many new challenges from the other side of the ball which is a very good thing. The more looks he sees the better. More on this during the next ITB pod which drops Monday morning at 6a ET. Loved a right sideline pass where Hurts drilled it to WR Travis Fulgham, who had a defender right near him. Hurts, because he has a long windup, occasionally will be late on a throw (did see this the last 2 days), but he wasn’t late on this one. This was an outstanding NFL type of throw.
– If I’m the front office and Sirianni, I’m not playing RB Miles Sanders in the preseason. He looks fit and smooth and continues to make unblocked defenders miss in practice. He doesn’t need the extra work. He’ll get plenty in training camp and don’t forget there are two sets of joint practices (vs. Patriots, at Jets) and the 4th preseason week will be practices instead.
– I’m going to make a small prediction: look for rookie Kenny Gainwell (#14, wearing a QB number) to be the Eagles version of Nyheim Hines. It seemed that Hines ran more pass routes than he had carries in the two days I attended practice. And we know that Sirianni coached Hines for 3 seasons with the Colts when he was their OC.
Memphis HC Ryan Silverfield mentioned to us on a post-draft ITB-TV that Gainwell lined up in the slot and out wide quite a bit in 2019 and I can see that happening with the Eagles. He has special ability and I’m looking forward to seeing what this staff does with him.
– Second-year WRs Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins returned to practice. Reagor ran a great route in 1-on-1s, but the pass was late and the defender recovered and deflected the pass. Watkins ran some deeper routes. TE Hakeem Butler ran with the WRs again today due to Reagor not practicing a lot (though he did have some routes in 11-on-11) and overall low depth at the position. Rookie WR DeVonta Smith missed the 2nd half of practice due to a minor injury. He came back after being checked out and watched the rest of practice with a football in his hand. Second-year WR John Hightower, once again, had a lot of reps with the 1s and 2s. Much more on this WR situation on the next ITB…
– C/G Nate Herbig looks almost unrecognizable after his massive weight loss. He walked past me on Friday’s practice I almost did a double take. If you recall, his jersey often would hang out last season because he was so overweight–not anymore.
– You might recall that on a recent pre-training camp ITB that we heard that LT Jordan Mailata lost 25 pounds. It’s certainly noticeable and that has not been lost on the head coach.
“I think Jordan came back in phenomenal shape. He had a target weight that he was trying to come back at and he came back at that weight. He came back lighter, he came back more fit and it’s showing out there. And so he’s just a big man that can move like a little man, right. And so I’m really, really happy with the way and happy for Jordan that he came back in the shape that he did because, you know, that’s the key, right, going against those athletes that he’s going against on the other side on the defensive line, he’s going to have to be in the best shape of his life. I think right now he did come back — I’ve only known him for a short time but he said to me, and the strength staff have said, he is in the best shape of his life,” Siranni said shortly before Saturday’s practice.
More on the LT battle on Monday’s ITB…
– The starting OL in this practice: LT Mailata, LG Herbig, C Jason Kelce, RG Matt Pryor, RT Lane Johnson. That’s after 4 backups started during Friday’s practice.
– When we told ITB listeners way back in February that we were going to see a lot of disguise and movement on the DL, we weren’t kidding. I can’t recall this much movement in years. In fact, while the Eagles will run a 4-3 front, they seem to be using multiple fronts. Even DEs Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, and Derek Barnett are seeing time standing up. I’m really looking forward to seeing what Gannon does with this group.
– I’ll make another prediction: Sweat will have more snaps this season than Barnett. Sweat is simply a better football player and can do more at this point. What a 4th-round pick Sweat has been and he has gotten steadily better since he was drafted in 2018 while Barnett has not been consistent enough.
– With 2nd-year LB Davion Taylor (quadriceps) not working, LB Rashad Smith saw some work with the first-team defense. More on the injury situations and updates on Monday’s show.
– Nelson had his moments in this practice in 1-on-1s and 11-on-11: He plays with passion and energy and is very physical. I would almost say he plays with an aggressive and feisty nature.