Philadelphia Eagles News

Practice Notes: Alshon Jeffery shines, Malcolm Pickins, and DTs wreak havoc

After a practice that lasted two hours and five minutes on Sunday, the clear takeaway was that the Eagles are using Training Camp practices as the time for getting the starters quality reps leading up to the regular season, as there were extensive sessions with the first-team units battling one another.

"You can't have the guys that want to turn it on in the game," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "You should want to turn it on in practice so you can look good when we're watching film. The more trust the coaches have in you, the more they're going to take care of you."

More takeaways from Sunday's practice:

1. The linebackers ran a fun drill that I'd never seen before during the individual period. A coach stood behind a player as he dropped in zone coverage, staying in his blind spot. At the top his drop, the player would peek behind him and expand either inside or outside, completely dependent on which way the coach ran. It was a cool drill to get linebackers to work on feeling routes developing behind them while dropping in zone coverage. – Ben Fennell

2. During installation periods, I was over with the defensive back seven group. After a rep, cornerback Ronald Darby, linebacker Zach Brown, and assistant coaches Cory Undlin and Ken Flajole discussed the machinations of a certain coverage. Darby and Brown appeared to be talking through each of their responsibilities. As the backups worked through drills, Rodney McLeod chatted for a long time with safety Johnathan Cyprien, and seemed to be teaching him a few things about the specific scheme they were working through in the drill. This is what these install periods are for, so that things can get ironed out before team periods and, obviously, game action begin. – Fran Duffy

3. Along those same lines, safety Malcolm Jenkins spent time working on his technique in his pedal alongside young safety Tre Sullivan. Jenkins watched Sullivan's reps closely to see if he executed the coaching point he explained just seconds earlier. – Ben

4. The first team period begins, and on the second play fans are excited to see a completion to DeSean Jackson, who Carson Wentz hits on a corner route along the near sideline. Rasul Douglas was in tight coverage, but Wentz put the ball outside for Jackson to complete the catch. A few plays later, on the opposite side of the field, Wentz scrambled with great protection in front of him and find Alshon Jeffery deep down the field for a big play. This receiving corps is going to be fun to watch. – Fran

5. Something to note with Jeffery is that this is the first Training Camp that he's been healthy for since signing with the Eagles in 2017. He initially injured his shoulder very early in that first Training Camp and missed all of last year's preseason following offseason surgery to repair the shoulder. Having Jeffery and Wentz healthy together to work on their timing is another reason to be excited about the offense. – Chris McPherson

6. Linebacker Zach Brown appeared to get the majority of the first-team reps in nickel alongside Nathan Gerry today. A few plays into this period, he got home for a "sack" of Wentz on a blitz right up the gut. – Fran

7. As much as we are excited about Miles Sanders and what he's going to add to the rushing attack, he must develop in the passing game to get more snaps on the field. On one play during this period, Sanders was aggressive in his pass protection as Graham came off the edge. And throughout the day, Sanders did a good job of catching screen passes and throws to the flat helping earn the trust of the coaches. – C-Mac

8. Rasul Douglas dropped an interception late in the period, sitting over the top of a route from Zach Ertz. The ball was a bit high and flew past the tight end, right into Douglas' chest, where it bounced off his pads and into the dirt for a missed opportunity to go the other way. – Ben

9. After another install session, the team gets back together for 11-on-11 action, and rookie running back Miles Sanders busts off one of his cleaner runs of camp. The second-round pick busted through the line, seemingly untouched by my eyes, and got to the second level in a hurry for a big play. Overall, though, the defensive line was in control of this period. Tim Jernigan and Josh Sweat got into the backfield quickly for a "tackle for loss" against Sanders. Sweat was in the backfield again on a running play to Darren Sproles. Brandon Graham thumped up Jordan Howard on a run away from him. Kasim Edebali, the newly signed defensive end, made an appearance as well, netting his own TFL toward the end of the period. – Fran

10. On the first rep of the next period, Sweat got a "sack" working against Jason Peters, winning with a jab step inside and getting to Wentz just as he released the football. Vinny Curry did not practice on Sunday, and with Derek Barnett still working his way back into a full-time role, Sweat got a lot of reps with the first-team defense. I made it a point after that rep to keep an eye on that matchup for the rest of the sequence. Peters pitched a shutout over the next four reps.

"He was out there at the beginning of the game too, so he's getting good reps against all those guys," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. "It really doesn't matter whether its JP (Peters) or anybody else or a preseason game. He's just working hard to be consistent, working hard to prove that he can fill a role if we ask him." – Fran

11. Andre Dillard had a couple of nice reps in the next few plays, picking up a stunt on one rep and stoning defensive ends in pass protection in others. It's been fun to watch the first-round rookie get better and better over the course of camp. – Fran

12. Jeffery continues his strong day with two passes during this Special CAT (category) period where the offense was practicing third-down situation. Jeffery caught a ball off a quick slant, then on a deep cross after lining up in a trips formation to the left of the quarterback. – C-Mac

13. This was a heavy dime personnel day from the Eagles, with six defensive backs on the field, four defensive linemen, and one linebacker. Who that linebacker was changed throughout the day (a mix of Gerry, L.J. Fort, T.J. Edwards, and Alex Singleton all worked into the spot), providing good experience for the group as they played alongside the other 10 starters and relayed defensive calls before each play. – Ben

14. A couple of nice plays from Zach Ertz. First, he caught a ball over the middle despite nice coverage by Malcolm Jenkins, much to the chagrin of the Pro Bowl safety. Then, a few snaps later, Ertz chipped Sweat before going out and catching a quick pass from Wentz. The quarterback was happy with the execution as the two double-tapped a high-five following the play. – C-Mac

15. It's going to be scary when Jordan Mailata puts it all together. The biggest player on the team at 6-8, 346 pounds, Mailata pulled from the right tackle position on a run by Nelson Agholor. Seeing the big boy get a full head of steam ... in the open field, nonetheless. Look out! – C-Mac

16. A 7-on-7 period begins, and Wentz had one of his best sessions of the day. After a quick completion to Joshua Perkins in the slot, Wentz dropped back and threw a strike to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on a dig route on the back side. After a drop from Nelson Agholor over the middle, Wentz hit Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz for a pair of throws before hitting Jeffery one more time along the left sideline. The ball was tightly covered by cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon, who ripped off Jeffery's towel as he ran away. Jeffery let him hear about it afterward, spinning the ball in the direction of McKinnon. – Fran

17. Playing defensive back can be frustrating at times in practice, whether it's in one-on-one drills or during 7-on-7s like this one. On the back half of the period, several DBs screamed at the offense because the ball took too long to come out of the quarterback's hand. With no pass rush, the quarterback has all day to sit back and survey the field, forcing defenders to cover receivers for more than five or six seconds, which is an eternity and not realistic. – Ben

18. The final team period is underway, and Wentz drops back on a play-action pass play and hits Agholor on a deep crossing route. Agholor caught the ball in stride, throttled down, and made a cut to make a defender miss to create yards after the catch on one of the biggest plays of the day. A couple of plays later, Wentz dropped back and hit Jeffery on a deep out route, where Alshon got both feet down in-bounds in front of Avonte Maddox. – Fran

19. Outside of those two plays, however, this was yet another defensive-dominated period. The secondary picked off Wentz twice, with one leaping interception from Malcolm Jenkins on a throw intended for Agholor over the middle and a diving interception by Maddox on a tipped pass that appeared to be heading toward Perkins. On the Jenkins interception, Jason Kelce chased the veteran safety down and actually punched the football out. The defense picked it up and tried to lateral the football to return it back the other way. On the Maddox interception, the ball was tipped straight up into the air, and Maddox came from a few yards away and plucked it right off the grass blades to secure the turnover. – Fran

20. Newly acquired defensive end Eli Harold, wearing No. 59, saw reps in a team period late in practice. Fran predicted that he would get a sack on his first snap. He was wrong, as the ball came out quickly in the opposite direction.

"Good body for what we are looking for," Schwartz said of Harold. "Our scouts had liked him a couple years ago. He has had a little bit of production. He played sort of a hybrid role last year for Detroit, but we are a little bit different. Put his hand in the ground and let him come. He's big, he's strong, and we will add him to the mix and see where it turns out, but he does have a little bit of experience. It's a little bit different than a rookie coming in. We should get him up to speed pretty quickly." – Ben

21. Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan were both extremely active today at practice. Jackson got home for multiple "sacks" and "tackles for loss," as did Jernigan, who always brings a level of swagger and intensity to that unit. I'm really excited about Jackson's addition to the defensive line, as he's been one of the most productive interior disruptors in the NFL. On one play, he beat Isaac Seumalo so quickly that he was in the backfield almost as quickly as the football was snapped to Wentz. – Fran

22. On Saturday, I noted how Zach Ertz was referred to as "Julie Ertz's husband," by a fan at practice. It's only fitting that the World Champion was in the house on Sunday to watch her husband. – C-Mac

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