August 1, 2023   5 MIN READ

Tackle Tuesday!

Camp Observations: Pads Come Out At NovaCare; Hurts Shines Again


PHILADELPHIA – The pads came out for the first time of Eagles training camp Tuesday as the team moved away from the ramp-up phase and into contact periods.

Even with the Eagles in full pads, there wasn’t an abundance of shellacking hits, save for one big stick that we’ll get into later.

But the roughly 80-minute session did have its standouts, including Jalen Hurts, his favorite weapons, and some hungry players on defense with points to prove.

First, let’s review the injury situation:

* WR Deon Cain, trying to grab the No. 5 receiver spot, didn’t practice because of an ankle injury.

* DE Derek Barnett (knee), CB Avonte Maddox (toe), and EDGE Haason Reddick (calf) were all limited, although it appeared Barnett participated in more drills than Maddox and Reddick.

Reddick spoke after practice about his contract situation and provided some … interesting remarks.

training camp

ITB PHOTO: The Eagles warm up in pads for the first time in 2023 training camp at the NovaCare Complex.

Now, the observations:

* Jalen Hurts and the first-team offense – especially the passing game – came to life, with Hurts finding DeVonta Smith in some early drills and later going deep to A.J. Brown. It felt like a continuation of last season watching Hurts accurately find his top receivers, even against tight coverage. He found Smith twice on roll-outs near the sidelines. Hurts has been especially careful with the ball and precise on the deep ball, two of his best attributes from last season.

* The 50-yard-ish touchdown from Hurts to Brown near the end of 11-on-11s was a perfectly thrown ball. Brown had beaten James Bradberry down the left side on a post. It’s a tough angle for reporters to see the route develop, as the action is coming at us from the opposite end zone, so I couldn’t tell what kind of move Brown used to slip past Bradberry – or if there was a “sack” before the heave – but Brown gained more than one step on the veteran corner. In fact, Brown downshifted as he approached the end zone to avoid out-running the pass. Where was the safety help? Terrell Edmunds trailed on the play. Not sure if Edmunds had played an underneath route first, but he didn’t recover in nearly enough time.

* Marcus Mariota had some nice scrambles while engineering the second team, although you’d like to see QBs take advantage of the no-contact rule and hang around the pocket. He ran in an 8-yard touchdown, although Milton Williams did put the tag on him. Mariota was picked off twice, once by a lunging Reed Blankenship in 1-on-1s on a ball intended for Tyree Jackson, and again in team drills looking for Dan Arnold. He overthrew Arnold badly, and the ball instead found safety K’von Wallace. Ball security has been problematic so far for the veteran backup.

* 1-on-1s between defensive linemen/pass rushers against offensive linemen offered some good battles. Nolan Smith’s speed was too much for Chim Okafor. Smith showcased his bend as he dipped under the Benedictine product. Derek Barnett got stonewalled by Jordan Mailata but rebounded with a strong move around Roderick Johnson. Second-year NT Jordan Davis gave Landon Dickerson a good rep, driving back the Pro Bowl guard with a bull rush.

* Speaking of Wallace and Blankenship, those were your first-team safeties at times, with Edmunds also playing with starters. Regarding new DC Sean Desai’s schemes, the play calls appeared fairly vanilla, with some occasional split-safety looks that turned into Cover 1 post-snap and vice-versa. There appeared to be some confusion when Hurts hit Smith against a two-deep coverage right down the middle but there might have been a “sack” that forced the defense to let up.

* Rookie safety Sydney Brown got some run in with the 2s. He’s quick and active. On one rep, in what appeared to be man coverage, Brown came across the field to cover Boston Scott on a leak-out to the right side. The ball never made it to Scott but Brown showcased his ability to find his man and quickly get to his spot.

* Christian Elliss continued to see first-teams reps, rotating with Nic Morrow. Nakobe Dean stayed on the field with the starters, naturally.

* Jason Kelce jumped into the second level and smothered Edmunds to spring Boston Scott for a big gain on a well-executed screen. You read that correctly – a screen to a running back. Kenneth Gainwell added a nice run to the left side from either a pitch or quick shovel.

* The day’s biggest hit came from rookie free-agent cornerback Mekhi Gardner, who walloped wide receiver Charleston Rambo with a hit near the right sideline that reverberated around the NovaCare Complex, drawing a chorus of ohhhhs and ahhhs. It’s the kind of hit Gardner wouldn’t have survived had he put the same stick on someone like, say, A.J. Brown.

* Brett Toth appeared at center on the second team and had some snap issues, to put it kindly.

* I know you’re all excited about the punter battle. Both candidates, Arryn Siposs and rookie Tyler Zentner, landed punts inside the 10 and 5, though Sippos was slightly more consistent.

* Props to the person who put together the practice soundtrack, an homage to the old school. Slick Rick, De La Soul, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Freeway, Jay-Z, DMX, Mobb Deep, Fat Joe, Wu Tang, and Rakim were all heard on the speakers throughout practice.

– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for

Listen to the latest “Inside The Birds” podcast featuring Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher:

Or watch on YouTube:

About The Author

1 Comment