Eagles Camp Observations: Risers, Fallers From Day 1 In Pads
The pads came out for the first time Tuesday as competition at the NovaCare Complex ratcheted up an extra notch.
Before practice, coach Nick Sirianni said the Eagles wouldn’t be tackling to the ground – live period, as its called – but could potentially go live deeper into camp.
“A constant talk,” with his staff, he said, adding that he’s “undecided” about live periods at the moment.
For the first day, all team drills were “thud,” which is contact without corralling to the ground.
The weather was cool and crisp. Tempers never flared. No fights, scrums, or player separations.
There were a few move-the-ball periods (when the offense starts in its own territory) and there were some hurry-up periods at the end of practice.
Surprisingly to me, Zach Ertz came out in pads and participated in practice. He caught some balls during team drills, too. I think the Eagles are gambling here, but Ertz stayed healthy and mixed in and out of the offense. He didn’t get a ton of reps.
Sirianni continues to be very vocal at practice. He yelled loudly at the offense at one point when it lined up wrong. At the end of practice, he gathered the entire team together to talk for a few minutes before they headed for the lockers.
Devonta Smith showed his leadership, even with his knee sprain keeping him on the sidelines for a few weeks. He caught passes from the JUGS machine before practice and stood next to Sirianni as the team warmed up. His presence was obvious for the entire practice even though he didn’t participate.
Linebacker Davion Taylor and left tackle Andre Dillard were the only players who didn’t finish practice. Taylor, who had just returned to practice, left for the medical tent during warmups and didn’t return. Dillard went to the sidelines near the end of practice, apparently to have his fingers looked at.
If an Eagles player picked the playlist for practice, I’m guessing it was someone over 30. The music featured many artists from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s, including Kid N’ Play, Beastie Boys, Biggie, Mike Jones, Trick Daddy, Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupree, the Cash Money crew, and others.
- Jake Elliott appeared to connect on all of his attempts the start of practice. I missed the first attempt but watched him connect on the final three, including attempts of 44 and 47 yards.
- One quarterback drill was intended to simulate making accurate red-zone throws under pressure. Quarterbacks would dance around ground markers for a few seconds – and sometimes roll out of the pocket – before firing into a ball net located in either the left or right corner of the end zone. Nick Mullens was the only quarterback to consistently land his passes inside the net.
- Some wide receivers struggled early in individual drills. Travis Fulgham, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and John Hightower each had drops during a quick comeback drill.
- Running backs coach Jemal Singleton preached hand usage – among other techniques – to Jason Huntley during a pass-protection/blitz pick-up drill. Huntley struggled there, allowing rookie JaCoby Stevens to work inside to the quarterback, although he came back with a much better showing against T.J. Edwards. Miles Sanders did a nice job walling off Eric Wilson. Kerryon Johnson, not surprisingly, put forth good reps against Gernard Avery and Stevens. Elijah Holifield was beaten badly by a quick swim move from Joe Ostman.
- Jordan Mailata took all first-teams reps in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, and it’s pretty clear why he’s the lead dog in the race. He tag-teamed to put Brandon Graham on the ground on the first play of 7s and then provided the key block as Boston Scott scampered down the left side for a long run. More on Andre Dillard later.
- The defense again showed multiple looks up front and formation variety – three down linemen, four down linemen, stand-up rushers, nickel looks, dime looks, etc. Linebacker is easily the position seeing the most rotation, with Alex Singleton still on the Covid-19 list and with Davion Taylor sidelined. Eric Wilson, T.J. Edwards, Jacoby Stevens and Rashad Smith all took significant reps.
- Wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon caught a pass from Joe Flacco in 7s that he hauled in on the left side and hung onto despite getting drilled by Elijah Riley. Flacco had rolled to his right. Ausbon had the smart sense to get open in the zone and present himself as a target. Later, Anthony Harris put a stick on Travis Fulgham.
- Quez Watkins had another good showcase. He went up to grab a high pass in 7s along the right seam from Nick Mullens. He continues to look improved from last season.
- Ertz made his presence felt early in the first full-team period, catching two passes from Jalen Hurts, including a blitz-beater on a deep cross also made possible by solid pass pro from Boston Scott. Hurts looked OK for most of the day, although he didn’t put the ball in the end zone during any drills and generally worked the middle of the field.
- Running backs were more involved with the pads out. Scott had a few nice scampers, and Kerryon Johnson caught a swing pass along the right sideline from Flacco for positive yards. First sign of Johnson making his presence known at camp.
- Because of the Josh Sweat-Derek Barnett rotations, Andre Dillard had a chance to face good pass rushers even as second-team left tackle. The 2019 first-round pick appeared to have a decent rep against Josh Sweat at the start of the second full-team period, but Dillard got absolutely trucked by Sweat on the next snap and wound up on the ground. He later walked to the sideline to be examined.
- Rookie corner Zech McPhearson collected at least three PBUs, showing good instincts and breaking on the ball. He knocked away a pass to Andre Patton along the right side at the end of the last hurry-up period.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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