The pads went on for Tuesday's Training Camp practice, an indication that the evaluation process is ready to go to a new level for the Eagles, and even though there were no "live" sessions, the physical nature of the on-field work was apparent. It was a terrific practice with energy and intensity. We're just over a week away from the preseason and five weeks or so away from the regular-season opener, so the days are flying by.
What do we really know about the Eagles at this point? Every day provides more data and more opinions, so let me try to add my perspective here after watching a week of camp at the NovaCare Complex …
1. Jalen Hurts has his ups and downs, as all second-year quarterbacks have. He certainly has been effective throwing the football deep and has connected with wide receivers DeVonta Smith, John Hightower, and Quez Watkins for big plays. The chemistry is certainly developing with Jalen Reagor, who appears to be stacking strong days back to back to back. The Eagles have some receiving weapons here and they're going to spread the football around.
2. Combining what we know from Nick Sirianni's days in Indianapolis plus what we've seen here, the running game is going to be an important component in the offense. And, why not? The Eagles are in a situation where they have one of the top offensive lines in the league that can road grade, so leaning on the running game is a good thing. It's hard to make a read on the backs until the defense can tackle, but we know about Miles Sanders and Boston Scott from their time here. Jordan Howard looks like he is in great shape. Kerryon Johnson is moving well. Jason Huntley has juice and Elijah Holyfield looks worlds more comfortable than he did last year. The wild card here is draft pick Kenneth Gainwell, who has been used in a variety of ways out of the backfield. He's going to be fun to watch. Adrian Killins is another jack-of-all-trades who can do some damage in the open field.
3. Both Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard have taken first-team reps at left tackle as the Eagles want to give both players a chance to earn that starting job. Who wins the job? We probably won't know until we are quite a bit closer to the opener in Atlanta.
4. Speaking of the offensive line, the Eagles are making sure that both Isaac Seumalo (hamstring) and Brandon Brooks (hamstring) ease back into the lineup. In the meantime, players like Nate Herbig, Jack Driscoll, and Sua Opeta are gaining valuable reps inside.
5. The injuries to Brooks, Seumalo, Smith, and Ryan Kerrigan (his thumb was wrapped at Tuesday's practice) aren't expected to carry into the regular season. Keep your fingers crossed here. The injury picture has been, to date, promising.
6. I can't wait to see the wide receivers in the preseason and in the joint practices against New England and the New York Jets. A young group has a chance to step forward in the next five weeks, no matter how much action Smith sees on the field. Smith is sidelined and deemed "week to week" with a knee injury, but that hasn't stopped him from catching a bunch of footballs from the JUGS machine and from watching the practices on the sidelines. The Eagles have seen enough of him to know that he's special and that he's not going to be rushed back into action.
7. I would love to tell you all about the defense, but until the action is live, it's really not fair to give a hot take. Let's just say the defense has been flying to the football, has been emphasizing taking the ball away, and is moving a lot of players into a bunch of positions to change up the looks. That's what Jonathan Gannon wants to bring to the table every week. I will say this, with absolute certainty: The players are fired up for whatever Gannon is selling. "I love it," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "We are playing with so much energy. We are working hard, pushing each other. It feels good and it looks good. I know it's early, but I'm excited. I think we're going to bring it."
8. This may be the most diverse and athletic group of tight ends the Eagles have had in a while. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert lead the way, of course, but Richard Rodgers is a strong veteran No. 3 and the young players here are showing up. What's interesting is that those other tight ends have made the transition from other positions – Hakeem Butler and Jason Croom were initially wide receivers and Tyree Jackson was a quarterback at the University of Buffalo. Jack Stoll, a rookie free agent, played tight end all the way through his time at Nebraska. Fun group to watch.
9. Projecting a 53-man roster at this point is fun, but not entirely worthwhile. The pads are just now going on. We will know a whole lot more about this team in the next two weeks – a preseason game against Pittsburgh and then joint practices and preseason game to follow against New England, so stay tuned. The fun is just starting at the NovaCare Complex.