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Training Camp Practice Notes: August 14

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Saturday marked the first Training Camp practice following Thursday night's preseason debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With the New England Patriots coming to town for joint practices starting Monday, the Eagles took the pads off. Still, the energy remained intense as the sweltering humidity made it feel close to 100 degrees at the NovaCare Complex.

The Eagles handled some transactional business before the start of practice, first by activating tackle Le'Raven Clark from the Physically Unable to Perform list. Clark played for the Colts for the past five seasons and has experience at both tackle spots.

All NFL teams have to get down to the 85-player limit by Tuesday, so the Eagles started the process by waiving wide receiver Adrian Killins and tight end Caleb Wilson. The Eagles have 88 players, not including defensive end Matt Leo, who is an international exemption and doesn't count toward the roster limit.

Head Coach Nick Sirianni addressed reporters before the start of practice and praised several players for their efforts Thursday night. Here's a sample:

• On quarterback Jalen Hurts: "I thought he played better than I even thought when I got into the room on Thursday night. I just thought he was in complete command of the offense."

• On guard Brandon Brooks: "Quick, powerful, explosive. I mean, he's a really good football player. So just wanted to get him out there with the rest of the offensive line, and I was excited the way he played."

• On running backs Jordan Howard and Kenneth Gainwell: "Jordan Howard had a pickup on a third down where he just drilled the guy. That was awesome to see. You love that intensity there. And I'm talking about pass plays.

"And then Kenny Gainwell had a chip on a defensive end. And as we watched it in the coaches' meeting, they were, like, 'Oooh, that one hurt. That slowed that guy down the next time.' So. it was good to see the physical play of the back. Kenny also slipped a tackle. The guy had him wrapped up. You just saw how strong he is in the lower body."

• From an injury standpoint, Sirianni said that wide receiver DeVonta Smith (knee) is now day to day instead of week to week. Also, running back Kerryon Johnson is being evaluated for a knee injury.

Here's a look at what happened on the practice field Saturday:

• I found myself over with the offensive line group during individual drills. It was great to see Isaac Seumalo working with the first-team unit at left guard. Brandon Brooks returned to the field last week. This offensive line is starting to come together. Le'Raven Clark was out on the field as well for the first time practicing today, and Coach Jeff Stoutland was adamant about him getting as many reps as possible during the drill. I felt like Coach was especially fired up today! He had to be happy to have almost all of his linemen on the field. – Ben Fennell

• The offense worked on routes on air down in the red zone, with multiple receivers running pass patterns into the end zone at once. Clearly, the Eagles will be getting some red zone work in today. – Fran Duffy

• For the first team period, Jalen Hurts comes out looking sharp with the first-team unit. On his first attempt, he hit Quez Watkins on a slant route off play-action right through the teeth of the defense. Quez turned on the jets and took off, with Hurts raising his hand in celebration on a play he thinks would have gone to the house. After a Darius Slay pass breakup against Dallas Goedert (a play that Nick Sirianni celebrated with the star corner), Hurts hit Travis Fulgham over the middle of the field. Fulgham went up with full extension for the reception. Hurts later dropped in a nice throw to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on a crossing route for a big play. – Fran

• Hurts came out and completed four straight passes to start the next period, a 7-on-7 drill down in the red zone. After hitting Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, and Jalen Reagor on consecutive throws, the second-year quarterback lofted an impressive touch pass on a corner route to Ertz in the back of the end zone right in front of where I was standing. Ertz ran a sharp route on the play, gaining separation and coming down with the catch through contact on the ground. – Fran

• The running backs caught a few passes in this drill, and it made me think about something from Nick Sirianni's pre-practice press conference. My face lit up when he talked about using the running backs in the passing game and how it creates tremendous mismatches. Coach is speaking my language there. You know how much I love running backs being used down the field if you've been listening to me on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast with Fran for the last couple of years. It has been clear that the coaches will target the running backs often in this offense. That's music to my ears! – Ben

• In the next team session, Zech McPhearson made an impressive leaping pass breakup on a ball intended for Arcega-Whiteside from Joe Flacco. Sirianni was sure to praise his rookie corner after the play, where McPhearson got some serious hang time on his way to getting the ball on the ground. – Fran

• With the starters on the field for the next period, coaches blew the whistle fast on a couple of "sacks" by defensive ends Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham. Hurts was clearly frustrated with the fast whistle on the second one as he tried to break the pocket and make a play. I love this, though, because it's a great way to coach Hurts into making plays on time, within structure, and to get the ball out fast in the red zone. This is something Sirianni talked about in his press conference earlier this morning as well. – Ben

• The defense got several good stops in the final red zone period, whether it was the sacks that Ben alluded to or "stops" just shy of the goal line or forced incompletions. Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon was fired up when the whistle blew to end the day, praising the defense for a strong effort. – Fran

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