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Practice Notes: Eagles Get The Best Of Byron Maxwell And Fletcher Cox Shows Why He's Elite

Posted Aug 21, 2017


Wow, there was a lot to take in at Monday's joint practice with the Miami Dolphins. Chris McPherson primarily watched the Eagles' offense, while Fran Duffy scouted the defense.

1. At 10:20 a.m., safety Malcolm Jenkins fired up the defensive backs in the huddle breakdown before the start of individual drills. - Chris McPherson

2. Caleb Sturgis was a fifth-round pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2013 out of Florida, so he got to showcase his skills against his former squad. He hit his first three field goal attempts before the Eagles tried a fake with holder Donnie Jones tossing the ball to tight end Brent Celek. Sturgis finished out the series with four more successful tries. - CM

3. In the 7-on-7 red zone drill, quarterback Carson Wentz connected with wide receiver Torrey Smith for a touchdown. Smith didn't have a ton of targets on the day, but he caught everything that came his way. Quarterback Nick Foles threw a nice touchdown pass to tight end Trey Burton. Darren Sproles, Burton, and rookie Mack Hollins all made plays underneath and in the middle of the field during this drill. The Eagles turned it on in the final few reps as Foles connected with Ertz for a touchdown off a slant, followed by Marcus Johnson drawing a pass interference flag, and back-to-back touchdown grabs by wide receiver Shelton Gibson and tight end Anthony Denham. - CM

4. In the next team period, Nelson Agholor made a beautiful catch along the sideline despite tight coverage. When the offense reset at its own 20-yard line, Wentz went down the left sideline for an over-the-shoulder attempt to Agholor. Xavien Howard broke up the pass and nearly picked it off before going out of bounds. I personally thought Howard gave the Eagles' receiver the most problems. Johnson ran a nice double move to get open down the middle of the field, but Foles' pass was a little underthrown and safety Michael Thomas collided with the receiver. No flags were thrown by the refs, but more importantly, Johnson was OK. - CM

5. The play of the day for the Eagles' offense came with the ball at the Dolphins' 30-yard line in a high red zone drill. Smith burned Byron Maxwell down the right sideline on a go route and Wentz perfectly placed the ball for the score. Later in the series, Alshon Jeffery did a double move to get past Maxwell for another touchdown. - CM

6. I thought Darren Sproles was featured in the pass game more than usual on Monday. He also received praise for his work in pass protection. Donnel Pumphrey made a nice spin move on linebacker Chase Allen after catching a ball in the flat on during a series from the Miami 30-yard line. - CM

7. Going through my notes, Wentz drew a couple of offsides penalties throughout practice. - CM

8. Two other players who I want to praise: Ertz and Wendell Smallwood. Ertz had a number of red zone targets, and the team's versatility at tight end should bode well for the offense inside the 20-yard line especially now that LeGarrette Blount has been added in the backfield. Smallwood, meanwhile, received a ton of praise from offensive coordinator Frank Reich after practice. Reich noted how the Eagles didn't think he could be a three-down back in the 2016 draft. They weren't sure he could be on the field in passing situations. Smallwood has proved them wrong this offseason. He caught the ball well and looked fluid in his cuts after missing the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury. He has been impressive when on the field. - CM

9. The first team period of the day was focused on the run game, and as I focused on the Eagles' defense against Miami’s offense, the defensive line really stood out. Vinny Curry started things off with a tackle behind the line of scrimmage on the first play. On the next run, it would again be Curry alongside Tim Jernigan and Malcolm Jenkins disrupting the play in the backfield and forcing a cutback from the ball carrier. A couple of plays later, Jernigan stopped Miami’s Damien Williams in the backfield. Jernigan was the player who stood out most in the first practice period. - Fran Duffy

10. Next, the team split into 7-on-7 and one-on-ones. I focused my attention on the one-on-one battles between the offensive and defensive lines. In my line of sight, the Eagles' offensive line faced off against Miami’s formidable defensive front. Lane Johnson withstood a strong bull rush from Cameron Wake, re-anchoring and controlling the rep at the end. Brandon Brooks competed well against All-Pro tackle Ndamukong Suh, flashing a strong punch against Suh’s inside move. Nose tackle Jordan Phillips pushed Jason Kelce back in the pocket. Isaac Seumalo had a really good first rep against rookie Davon Godchaux, who chopped Seumalo’s hands down at the snap only to have Seumalo replace his hands instantly and shuffle his feet to stay in perfect position to protect the quarterback against his long-arm move. - FD

11. Next up, the Miami offense got the ball from its own 10-yard line. Fletcher Cox dominated this snap, completely changing the line of scrimmage and forcing the running back to bust it outside. The next play was more of the same, as Cox bench-pressed his man into the backfield and bounced the running back outside into the waiting arms of Derek Barnett. Two passes later, Cox flew into the backfield for a sack, tagging the quarterback on both shoulders. Chris Long got a tackle for loss on a toss to the right. The first team came back on the field and Jernigan flashed with his get-off and pad level, disrupting a play right at the snap. Cox exploded into the backfield for a second sack in the backfield. The defensive line was dominant in this period. - FD

12. On the first play of the next period, Barnett (in for a banged-up Brandon Graham) set a strong edge against the Miami right tackle, Ja’Wuan James, allowing Jernigan to fly past Laremy Tunsil for a tackle in the backfield. The teams moved into the red zone shortly afterward, and the secondary had their turn in the still non-eclipsed sun. Multiple pass attempts were forced to the second, third, and even fourth progression as the quarterbacks had to hold onto the ball thanks to tight coverage in the end zone. Quarterback Jay Cutler made some really tight throws when he needed to, but the Eagles' secondary really stood out to me close to the goal line. Corey Graham ended the red zone session with a pick right at the goal line, jumping an in-breaking route short of the touchdown. - FD

13. With practice winding down, cornerback Ronald Darby got the Eagles' sideline riled up with an interception of Cutler. - FD

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