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Training Camp Practice Notes: August 4

JaCoby Stevens 1920 080421

Rookie linebacker JaCoby Stevens made one of the best defensive plays of the day on Wednesday when he intercepted a pass in the middle of the field during a team period.

Stevens explained after practice how he was burned on a similar concept, a play-action pass, earlier in Training Camp. After reading the run, he dropped back too wide and left a lane open for the quarterback. The coaches preached the landmark where he's expected to be, and it was the perfect spot on Wednesday. It gave the late-round pick who is making the transition from defensive back to linebacker a jolt of confidence heading into an integral time as the start of the preseason is just over a week away.

The former LSU standout shared one of the ways that this young coaching staff is teaching the players – the power of stories.

In an effort to highlight the importance of attention to detail, Head Coach Nick Sirianni showed the players a video of competitive eater Joey Chestnut plowing his way through a tray of hot dogs during the annual Fourth of July showdown. Believe it or not, as Sirianni shared with the team, there is a method to Chestnut's caloric and gastrointestinal madness. It's more than just shoving food down the gullet.

This past July 4th, Stevens watched – he did not partake in eating – a highlight from the hot dog eating competition. Sirianni's presentation immediately came to mind. Everyone learns in different ways. The challenge for Sirianni – and the entire coaching staff – is to find the right formula for everyone. – Chris McPherson

Wednesday, the second day in pads, was a veteran maintenance day for six players: defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, tight end Zach Ertz, defensive end Brandon Graham, tackle Lane Johnson, center Jason Kelce, and cornerback Darius Slay. From an injury standpoint, linebacker Davion Taylor was downgraded to week to week with a calf injury. – C-Mac

• The first team period gets underway, and with Darius Slay on the sideline, I was very interested to see who would get the first-team nod opposite Steven Nelson as the other outside cornerback. In this drill, it's the rookie Zech McPhearson, who I have raved about almost every day on the Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast for our daily recaps. McPhearson has been so active on the ball every day, and he carries himself really well. It appeared that McPhearson would be rotating with the first-team defense throughout the day alongside fellow corners Michael Jacquet and Craig James. – Ben Fennell

• We've been waiting to see McPhearson get reps against some of the starters on offense, and today we got our chance. He gave up a very tightly contested catch to tight end Dallas Goedert along the sideline. I was in the end zone along that sideline, and I had a great view of the reception as the talented tight end climbed the ladder and got both feet in bounds for the catch. McPhearson was in great position. – Fran Duffy

• The team transitioned into 7-on-7 action, and Dallas Goedert was the target for Jalen Hurts a couple of times to start this drill as well, reaching the end zone twice on the first three plays. This could be a connection to watch out for moving into the regular season, especially when the team moves into the red zone. The offense toyed with a lot of different personnel groupings and formations in this session down in the red zone. – Ben

• While Ben watched the 7-on-7 drill, I went over to watch the offensive and defensive lines work on the middle field. The defense was working on their 2- and 3-man stunts while the offense drilled on protecting them. Early on, the defense had the upper hand, with Javon Hargrave, Genard Avery, and Hassan Ridgeway all getting home for wins. The offense bounced back in the second half though, with really good communication and execution to pick up the defensive schemes. – Fran

• The next 11-on-11 work begins, and for the second straight day we got to see rookie defensive lineman Milton Williams as a defensive end, this time standing up off the edge and bull rushing his way into the backfield. With Ryan Kerrigan (thumb) limited, Williams has shown off his versatility in practice, lining up both inside and outside. – Ben

Here's an impressive two-play sequence from Jalen Hurts. After throwing an interception in the middle of the field, he bounced back and delivered a fade down the left sideline to John Hightower, who attacked the football in the air and came down with it over McPhearson. It was the second catch McPhearson allowed on the day, but in the rookie's defense, he was in great position both times and just happened to see his opponent make outstanding grabs. It was a great ball from Hurts, who you loved to see bounce back from the pick to make one of his best throws in practice. – Fran

• In his first practice after the Eagles activated him off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Andrew Adams just flew into the backfield for a "tackle for loss," much to the delight of Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who ran onto the field to celebrate with him. Adams got some first-team reps in the secondary. – Ben

• Adams wasn't the only DB to get everyone excited, as just a couple of minutes later, McPhearson got off a block and stuck a ball carrier in the flat right at the line of scrimmage. He had a similar play against a screen pass in yesterday's padded practice, and after this rep he had his defensive backs coach as well as teammates Avonte Maddox and Anthony Harris patting him on the back and helmet after triggering downhill to make the stop. – Ben

• In the last big play of practice, Jalen Hurts dropped back off play-action and hit Greg Ward on a crossing route over the middle of the field. The young veteran receiver attacked the ball in the air and came down with it on the run for the big play through the teeth of the defense. – Fran

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