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Practice Notes: Derek Barnett, Ronald Darby increase workload plus a rookie standout

The Eagles returned to the practice field Saturday morning for a workout that lasted two hours and 10 minutes. The players are in a game week routine of sorts, with Saturday kicking off four days of full practice before a travel day ahead of the upcoming showdown in Jacksonville. Fran Duffy, Ben Fennell, and Chris McPherson recap the action below.

1. Lane Johnson is not on the field at today's practice. Head coach Doug Pederson said that Johnson will likely be back for the regular-season opener against Washington with an undisclosed injury. Jordan Mailata worked with the first-team offense at right tackle. During the installation periods and individual drills, however, Halapoulivaati Vaitai lined up at right tackle with Brandon Brooks taking his natural place as the starting right guard. Brooks is still working back from the Achilles injury suffered in the team's playoff loss to New Orleans. We haven't seen much of Vaitai at tackle all summer long, but obviously he has proven himself in this league with his ability to play both tackle spots. – Ben Fennell

2. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld watched practice from the sidelines a day after undergoing surgery on his left wrist. He had his arm in a sling. He walked into the end zone during the group install period and was welcomed by an embrace from tackle Jordan Mailata as the two shared a moment. During the group install, Brandon Brooks was at right guard, while Halapoulivaati Vaitai lined up at right tackle as Lane Johnson. – Chris McPherson

3. Interesting drill during the individual period that reminded me of a three-man weave in basketball. The quarterback came to the line of scrimmage with two receivers lined up on the outside (one on each side), two lined up in the slot (again, one on each side), and a running back in the backfield against no defense. The quarterback completed a pass and go into hurry-up mode. It was routes vs. air with a little twist. – C-Mac

4. The defense makes the first big play of the day, with Nathan Gerry stepping in front of a screen pass and taking it back to the house. Gerry appeared to be blitzing off the edge in the direction of the screen and reacted quickly, showing off the hands that allowed him to intercept 12 passes in his college career. – Fran Duffy

5. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had a really nice day as a receiver, and it started on that opening team period. He made the first big catch for the offense with a tip-toe fingertip catch along the sideline on an out-breaking route, then later caught a Carson Wentz pass on a deep dig route over the middle to end the period. – Fran

6. Those Arcega-Whiteside flashes continued all morning long, with grabs coming along the sideline and in the middle of the field. The rookie showed off his awareness, strong hands, and catch radius as well as some savvy navigating through zone coverages while catching passes from Carson Wentz and Cody Kessler. – Ben

7. One last bit on Arcega-Whiteside, he and DeSean Jackson spent about 20 minutes on the field after practice working through routes and different tricks of the trade. Jackson is known as one of the preeminent vertical threats in NFL history, but his game is so much more than just pure speed. On Friday, wide receivers coach Carson Walch said that Jackson has taken a more vocal leadership role in the meeting room over the past couple of weeks.

"Honestly, it's something that I have taken up under my wing is being a guy that's 12 years in and just want to help challenge these young kids and just let them know what it takes to be a professional," Jackson said. – C-Mac

8. The team broke up into two groups for a "half-field 7-on-7" drill, so you saw the offense work on various two- and three-man route concepts against five or six defenders in space. Highlights that I saw included an interception from Johnathan Cyprien in the middle of the field and a couple of nice catches by Alshon Jeffery from Carson Wentz along with an appearance by Ronald Darby, who has not done much group activity as he returns from his knee injury. The veteran did see reps in this drill, however.

"No lie, I was a little nervous. At the end of the day, I'm like, I'm just going to go out there and just move because you're reacting to people. You don't think so much cutting on your leg and stuff like that compared to when you're by yourself out there," Darby said. "Right now, I got that knee brace on and it's restricting me a little bit, but I felt like I was breaking down nice and that's my main concern." – Fran

9. Team drills start back up, and this appears to be a very run-focused period. These types of drills can be difficult to evaluate without live tackling, but it did appear that the defense got the better end of this session. Darren Sproles had the longest run on a perimeter play to the left, but outside of that the defensive front seven stood pretty strong on interior runs. Players who flashed included Malik Jackson and L.J. Fort. – Fran

10. Derek Barnett's return to the action was fun to see today. The guy just naturally hustles and constantly flows to the football, always operating at one speed. He's easy to spot on the field because he's always wearing pants and long sleeves, and he's the one running to the ball at nearly 100 mph on every snap.

"I feel good. I'm following the progression plan. It feels good. Following what they've had for me, everything's well," Barnett said. "It was tough, but injuries are a part of the game. Everybody goes through it at some point. You just got to keep on battling. Everything's good, getting closer and closer." – Ben

11. We saw a good amount of big nickel from the Eagles on Saturday, meaning five defensive backs are on the field but the fifth defensive back is a safety with Andrew Sendejo instead of a corner. I expect more teams around the league to work in these kinds of packages more frequently in 2019. – Ben

12. More 11-on-11 action begins, and this is a Move the Field period, simulating several different scrimmage situations. The starters get things going on the first three reps, first with a Sidney Jones breakup on a throw intended for tight end Josh Perkins (who played in place of a sidelined Dallas Goedert on Saturday), then with a long run by Jordan Howard up the gut, and lastly with an Alshon Jeffery catch over the middle that came off run-action in the backfield. Soon afterward, the team moved the ball to the goal line, and after a Carson Wentz rushing touchdown on a zone-read play, Wentz found DeSean Jackson on a diving catch to the front pylon, much to the delight of the fans in attendance. – Fran

13. The line of the day came from a fan who saw tight end Zach Ertz running toward the end zone. "There's Julie Ertz's husband." I guess No. 86 has to make another Super Bowl-winning touchdown grab. I will use this time to plug the upcoming U.S. Women's National Team's game at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday, August 29, which is on the verge of breaking the World Cup-winning squad's record for number of tickets sold for a stand-alone friendly match. – C-Mac

14. The backups were next up on the goal line, and in two plays I studied rookie defensive end Shareef Miller. First, Miller got a pass breakup, leaping into the air to break up a Cody Kessler pass at the line of scrimmage. He paid for it though, as Andre Dillard smartly planted Miller on his back once he left his feet. How would he respond? On the next play, Miller lined up across tight end Will Tye and drove him backwards, looking angry after the last rep. I enjoyed that sequence from Miller. – Ben

15. With the ball reset near midfield, Wentz moved the ball well in this period. After a really nice completion down the seam to Nelson Agholor against zone coverage, Wentz hit Zach Ertz for a completion and would later hit Jeffery and Ertz again to set up a field goal for the offense. – Fran

16. The backups returned. On the first play, Orlando Scandrick forced and recovered a fumble against Greg Ward after a short catch-and-run. Scandrick is a seasoned veteran and an established defensive back in the NFL, so watching him come in and compete with all of these young guys has been fun so far this summer. – Ben

17. The custom jersey of the day: Rasul Douglas No. 32 in midnight green. Either the fan's last name is Douglas, or he has been listening to the daily Training Camp recap episodes of Eagle Eye in the Sky and wants to be ahead of the curve. – C-Mac

18. Late in the drill, Cody Kessler hit Arcega-Whiteside for a nice completion. If you can protect Kessler, he can make throws. He's a proven player in this league. – Ben

19. The team splits off into 7-on-7 and 1-on-1 drills, so I go over to watch the linemen match up 1-on-1. Some quick takeaways:

• Brandon Graham beat Jordan Mailata with a nifty spin move to get things started. The veteran beat Mailata for a sack in the previous team period as well.

• Halapoulivaati Vaitai had some nice reps at both guard spots against both Treyvon Hester and Bruce Hector.

• Andre Dillard had a nice first rep against Vinny Curry, riding him outside and deep into the pocket behind the quarterback. This was also the first time that I witnessed Dillard get reps on the right side. He was badly beaten on the first rep by a Brandon Graham swim move, but bounced back on the very next snap with a nice effort against a Graham bull rush.

• Dillard wasn't the only person switching sides of the ball, as Mailata got reps at left tackle and Derek Barnett got reps at both defensive end spots. Barnett won with two speed reps on the snaps that I saw, winning with quick hands at the top of the rush before turning the corner.

• Newly signed defensive end Kasim Edebali beat Matt Pryor, lining up at left tackle, with a really nice spin move inside. On the next rep, the veteran pass rusher tried to win outside and had no such luck, as Pryor got those big hands on him and rode him out of harm's way. – Fran

20. Two plays stood out from the 7-on-7 portion. First, Wentz beat a Cover 2 look with a perfect pass along the right sideline that Arcega-Whiteside pulled in with a spinning grab, still getting both feet in bounds. Shortly after that, Malcolm Jenkins came up with a diving interception of Wentz. – C-Mac

21. In the final team period, Miles Sanders showed off some wheels with a toss play to the left side. A few plays later, Jordan Howard took an inside run, cut back side, and found a wide-open lane for a huge chunk of yardage downhill. Wentz hit DeSean Jackson on a comeback route to end the drive for the first-team offense, who steadily moved the ball downfield. In their next set of reps, Wentz completed passes to Jackson, Ertz, and Sproles before calling it a day. – Fran

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