May 22, 2024   5 MIN READ


OTA Observations: Baun, Rodgers See Heavy Reps


The Philadelphia Eagles were back Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex practice field for their second of three OTA practices this week.

The session, the first open to reporters, offered a initial look at the current iteration of a largely retooled Eagles roster, as well as a glimpse into how those new pieces fit.

While it’s important to acknowledge that it’s just May 22 with plenty of time ahead, there was plenty of pertinent information to glean from Wednesday’s practice. With football returning to South Philadelphia, I’ve gathered a hearty amount of takeaways from the session.


ITB Photo: The Philadelphia Eagles conducted their second OTAs practice on Wednesday.

*Among the handful of players who weren’t in attendance for the voluntary workout were CBs James Bradberry and Kelee Ringo, T Lane Johnson, WR DeVonta Smith, TE C.J. Uzomah, DE Josh Sweat and K Jake Elliott.

*Third-year LB Nakobe Dean (foot) was present during team stretching but ultimately held out of 7-on-7s. Second-year safety Sydney Brown, who continues to work his way back from a late-season knee injury, was present but also withheld from on-field work.

*Wide receivers Austin Watkins (undisclosed) and Ainias Smith (stress fracture) were also observers throughout practice, often seen working with one another in a limited capacity.

*Second-year CB Eli Ricks was seen on the sideline without a helmet after apparently sustaining an injury early during the session.

*In light of the recent announcement of DeVante Parker’s retirement, the next few months figure to be especially crucial for second-year wide receiver Joseph Ngata. While the big-bodied wideout appears to have added some muscle to his frame in my estimation, Ngata still lacks the suddenness and fluidity required to consistently create separation. It will be interesting to see how Ngata fares against contact and contested catch opportunities this summer.

*As far as his pass-catching, Ngata mostly showcased strong hands, but was egregiously overshot on one occasion by quarterback Will Grier down the right sideline. He also failed to bring in a short toss.

*With Smith away, the starting WRs in 11 personnel were A.J. Brown and Ngata on the outside and Parris Campbell in the slot.

*Veteran OT Mekhi Becton assumed Johnson’s role with the first-team offensive line. Second-year OL Tyler Steen, as expected, was the right guard.

*As one of the few veterans in the WR room, much will be expected from Campbell. To his credit, the 26-year-old is off to a strong start, reeling in a contested catch in one instance and was on the receiving end of a pinpoint dart down the right sideline from quarterback Jalen Hurts, with whom he appears to have established an early rapport. Hurts peppered Campbell with targets on Wednesday.

*To start 7-on-7s, the defensive backfield was comprised of Darius Slay and Isaiah Rodgers at cornerback with Avonte Maddox lining up at nickelback and C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Reed Blankenship at safety. Maddox, by the way, also rotated in at safety.

*With Dean sidelined, it was free-agent additions Devin White and Zack Baun who took snaps with the first-team defense. The second-team linebackers were Ben VanSumeren and Oren Burks, while Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Brandon Smith assumed the third-team work.

*First-round CB Quinyon Mitchell and Josh Jobe were the second-team cornerbacks, with second-round pick Cooper DeJean assuming second-team nickel duties. Mekhi Garner and Tristin McCollum were the second-team safeties. DeJean also moonlighted as the third-team outside corner opposite Mario Goodrich, while undrafted rookie Shon Stephens served as the third-team nickel.

*Mitchell tallied an impressive pass breakup on a Kenny Pickett heave intended for fellow rookie WR Johnny Wilson.

*Jobe flashed on one occasion, swarming rookie running back Will Shipley in the flat following a short dumpoff to the right.

*Rodgers, for his part, didn’t appear to be overly rusty following a year-long suspension. The fifth-year cornerback was active and around the football. Most noteworthy, Rodgers charged to breakup a Hurts pass intended for TE Dallas Goedert.

*With a new offensive coordinator often comes a fresh set of concepts. It’s one practice, but the Kellen Moore-led Eagles offense showcased a healthy amount of pre-snap motion along with varied formations.

*A trend last summer that never materialized during the season, the running backs were heavily involved in the passing game, especially Kenny Gainwell.

*One of the more highlight-worthy throws of the session came via third-string QB Tanner McKee, who threaded a seam-ball to TE E.J. Jenkins with Trotter Jr. in coverage.

*Aside from a short drop with EDGE Bryce Huff closing, fifth-year TE Albert Okwuegbunam caught the ball well, particularly in one instance over the middle, snaring a Pickett pass with McCollum closing.

*Noticed second-year EDGE Nolan Smith deployed in coverage on one particular rep, with the pass going to Gainwell on a dumpoff to the left. Smith, to his credit, didn’t look out of place.

*Third-year WR Britain Covey and DeJean took turns fielding punts later during the session, with Ainias Smith looking on. Covey, by the way, looked quick and explosive. His short-area quickness really stood out. It will be interesting to see what he’s able to do with (presumably) more offensive reps this summer.

*There are few players more under-the-microscope than free-agent signing Devin White, a notoriously volatile player despite tantalizing tools. I thought White largely acquitted himself well in coverage, particularly on one play, running step for step with running back Saquon Barkley, who was running a wheel route down the left sideline. White got a hand in to breakup the pass.

*White, by the way, looked heavier than his listed weight of 237.

*VanSumeren is a fluid-mover and closes with urgency. But he was no match for a perfectly-placed Pickett sideline toss to Gainwell.

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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  • Wilten Houston

    Thanks for the notes and highlights.