Inside The Birds: Mailata Entered “Heavy Favorite – Nothing’s Changed”
With plenty of storylines taking shape at the NovaCare Complex, Eagles first-year head coach Nick Sirianni is continuing to squeeze every last ounce from his team during training camp.
On the latest Inside The Birds, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan dish their latest observations from camp on both sides of the ball.
Geoff Mosher: “On the first day that the pads came out, it was Jordan Mailata, who got the first team reps. Now, the next day, it was Andre Dillard, they were still in pads, it was Andre Dillard, so it’s still 50/50 as far as first-team reps. But there’s no question that Jordan Mailata has shown up. We said that the snaps may be 50-50 but Mailata is the guy that has to lose the job. Hhe goes in as the leader, and in fact he may have already started to separate whatever distance there was between himself and Andre Dillard.”
Adam Caplan: “It’s a cavern. I mean, that’s really where it is right now. They went in with Mailata as a heavy favorite, nothing’s changed. One could argue Mailata has been the most impressive player in training camp, he’s certainly in my top-three based on what we know. I was at his first [ever] OTA practice where I’m like, ‘OK, I don’t know what this is gonna look like, he’s a massive human being.’ He had never even put on a helmet before. It’s just one of the most remarkable NFL stories. I don’t think anyone outside this market – the Philadelphia market or even the media nationally – has any idea what is happening here with this player. It’s one of the most amazing stories in Eagles history to this point. We’ll see how the book is written from here, but he is going to be the left tackle this season. The Eagles haven’t named it, they haven’t settled this yet, but I’ll do it for them: Jordan Mailata is going to be your left tackle.”
Mosher: “The one thing [with Miles Sanders] that could be a big thing or not is still with catching the ball. We noticed that on Wednesday, Jalen Hurts had a chance to hit him on maybe a little Texas route right out of the backfield over the middle and he dropped it. We had a chance to kind of watch Miles and Boston Scott, taking passes from the JUGS machine before practice side by side. When you watch these guys side-by-side, doing it at the same time, you very much see the difference in the softness of the hands of a Boston Scott, who kind of just catches it gracefully, easily. As opposed to Miles, who kind of catches it and the hands move a little bit, he doesn’t have hands as soft as Boston Scott.
“You look at his career so far, he seems to do fine like two years ago, with the balls that are high in the air, high-arcing and they kind of land in his hand, as opposed to last year, a lot of those passes across the middle, that he wasn’t able to get his hands on.
“But I will give him credit, even after practice, I saw him working with Jalen Hurts on those exact same type of throws over the middle. If this kid can just clean that part of his game up, everything else looks really crisp and clean with him, he could have a really big year.”
Caplan: “There’s a saying in life – you’ve got to get out of your own way. He’s the perfect guy for that if you put that phrase up in front of him. He’s got the ability to play in this league for seven or eight years, he definitely does. He’s got good length, he can run. He wasn’t good in the regular season [last year] but at least in training camp he showed pretty decent football IQ when the Eagles drafted him. Then he drifted, he just was not consistent and then he kind of fell off with drops, just lackadaisical. He’s just not the most consistent player, and it’s gonna be hard for him to make the team because [Quez] Watkins over the last four days he’s been phenomenal.”
Mosher: “In the practices we’ve watched since the pads have come out from a Jalen Hurts standpoint, everything has been done in the pocket. I haven’t seen him try to run and make something happen. He’s just going through the motions of the offense, which is what he’s supposed to do.”
Caplan: “He’s getting 1 percent better, as Sirianni says, there’s no doubt. I’m not saying these throws are easy, In fact, I don’t know if I mentioned this, the Saturday practice I was at he had this great throw, and these are the kind of things I look for. It was a throw to [Travis] Fulgham on the right sideline, it was right in front of me. It was only a 12-yard pass, but he fired it through the defender and that is an NFL pass. Those are the kind of passes that the big-time guys make, the Aaron Rodgers’ of the world, [Patrick] Mahomes. Where you see it, and you gotta fire it in it because if you don’t it’s gonna be deflected and look he’s improving, but there’s still some challenges here.”
Mosher: “I was shocked when I noticed it on Tuesday and then again Wednesday is that the rookie from LSU, JaCoby Stevens – he was a sixth [round pick] – he was out there at times with the first team alongside Eric Wilson. Then he came up on Wednesday, we all saw it, with the play of the day where he picked off Jalen Hurts across the middle and kind of ran it back, which was fun to see for him.
“So here’s the thing: I don’t wanna make too big of a deal of it, because the one thing we can say at linebacker is that if your name isn’t Eric Wilson, you’re just getting rotated in and out with everybody. Eric Wilson’s there, and then it’s either T.J. Edwards or JaCoby Stevens or Shaun Bradley or some of the stand-up guys we were talking about with [Joe] Ostman or [Genard] Avery. So it’s really hard to make anything of anything other than the fact that a rookie picked in the sixth round did get some opportunities with a first-team look and then came up with a nice play there so that’s good for him.”
Caplan: “If McPhearson can continue to [produce], he’ll be the first guy off the bench if Nelson or Slay can’t play.”
Mosher: “He’s not getting it now, but he has a lot of slot experience from Texas Tech, they could find some role for him in sub-packages as perhaps a second slot corner if you’re facing a four- or five-wide receiver formation. I would want to get him on the field if he can handle it, because he’s done a really good job of getting his hands on the football and breaking up passes all over the field. So he’s earning his way into getting playing time if he can handle it.”
– Justin Morganstein (@jmotweets_) is a staff contributor to InsideTheBirds.com.
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