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Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes | August 4, 2023

Darius Slay
Darius Slay

Pre-practice injury report: Linebacker Nakobe Dean suffered an ankle injury during Thursday's practice and he is listed as day to day. He did not practice on Friday and neither did cornerback James Bradberry, who is day to day with a groin injury, and wide receiver Deon Cain, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.

Defensive end Derek Barnett (knee) and cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe) are both experiencing an uptick in their on-field snaps, but are still limited with their respective injuries. Linebacker Haason Reddick was also limited with groin soreness.

During the second team period, linebacker Patrick Johnson suffered an undisclosed injury and had to be carted off the field.

1. While Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai holds his pre-practice press conference, I walked the sidelines at the NovaCare Complex to take in the scene as the Eagles prepared for an intense, pads-on practice on an overcast Friday morning. Nolan Smith is off in the distance working on his get-off with an assistant coach. A.J. Brown, D'Andre Swift, and Kenneth Gainwell are taking turns running the rope ladder, practicing their footwork. Jake Elliott and the rest of the specialists are refining their kicking operation, knowing that they'll be called on early in practice for a field goal period. As I make my way back towards the press conference tent, Darius Slay enters the practice field, interacting with a local Pop Warner team on his way to his pre-practice routine. – Fran Duffy

2. After the offense goes through the ball security circuit, they break into position groups for individual drills. For the wide receivers, that means working on a handful of areas of their game in rapid succession. First, the group works on their toe taps along the sideline, with coaches getting the players to drag their second foot after the catch in order to secure the reception in bounds. This technique would come in handy for DeVonta Smith in the 7-on-7 period, when he kept both feet in by the near pylon for a touchdown catch. After, the group worked on their pad level going in and out of route breaks. To do this, Wide Receivers Coach Aaron Moorehead stood at their landmark a few yards away, getting down on one knee with his hand out. The young players ran their route, sinking their hips so far that they could slap Moorehead's hand at the break, before going back to catch the football. Several of the Eagles' coaches, including Head Coach Nick Sirianni, stopped by to offer coaching points to players as they went through the drill. – Fran Duffy

3. Some takeaways as the pass catchers run routes against air (a period where the players run the routes that they'll be asked to run in various plays later in practice). This goes without saying, but A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith just catch everything. Brown does it in a palpably violent way at the catch point. You FEEL Brown's physicality when you watch him on the sideline. Conversely, Smith is so graceful with everything he does. He looks like he's moving in slow motion at the catch point; his body control shows up even when the team is going through simple drills like this, much less when everyone is going full-bore. – Fran Duffy

4. One-on-one drills begin across the pair of practice fields, and my attention stays with the wideouts and cornerbacks as they go into the red zone. The first applause-worthy play comes via Philadelphia native Olamide Zaccheaus, who runs a silky-smooth double move against rookie Kelee Ringo and gets open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Immediately afterward, Quez Watkins follows it up with a sharp corner route against Avonte Maddox, going up and over the slot corner for a touchdown that draws more praise from the fans in attendance. Watkins would later come down with another touchdown on a fade route down the left sideline. Dallas Goedert keeps rolling with the offensive punches, snaring a back shoulder throw for a score on the very next rep. A.J. Brown joins the party shortly afterwards with a double move touchdown where he drew a flag but secured the score anyway. Tyrie Cleveland made one of the more impressive catches in camp, going up and over Greedy Williams down the field for a big play. Williams was in really tight coverage on the play; he couldn't have covered it better – but Cleveland came down with it all the same. Zaccheaus makes a great adjustment on a corner route a few reps later, pulling in a touchdown in a matchup with second-year corner Mario Goodrich. – Fran Duffy

5. Over at the O-line/D-line one-on-one drills, the first battle is the heavyweight showdown between Lane Johnson and Haason Reddick. Johnson does a tremendous job fighting off Reddick's hands, not allowing the linebacker to get into his chest. ... Top draft pick Jalen Carter notched a pair of wins, using his hands to create leverage and his explosiveness to race past the lineman each time. ... Linebacker Nolan Smith is simply relentless, even if the lineman gets his hands on him, his motor just doesn't stop. ... Defensive end Derek Barnett does such a good job of getting low and utilizing that leverage which makes it hard for offensive linemen to beat him in these one-on-one situations. ... Brett Toth, working at center, anchored well against two of the bigger tackles in Marlon Tuipulotu and Noah Elliss. – Chris McPherson

6. Jalen Hurts comes out in the opening team period with a couple of completions to A.J. Brown, and the second one is the one that catches my eye. It was a long-yardage play and the defense sent pressure. Hurts read the blitz and got the ball out FAST to an intermediate route beyond the sticks to Brown to move the chains. That was an A-level throw from Hurts, who has been rolling at the start of camp. – Fran Duffy

7. The offensive line did some shuffling with the second-team unit on Thursday, and it continued on Friday – but this time up with the starters. Mid-way through a period, Jason Kelce stepped aside. That allowed Cam Jurgens to slide inside to center with rookie Tyler Steen jumping in with the ones at right guard. Lane Johnson also took a snap off on the play, opening the door for Jack Driscoll to come in at right tackle. With three new players on the right side of the line, the offense called a run that way and got a great double-team block from Steen and Driscoll. Steen did get reps with the second-team group at left tackle as well. – Fran Duffy

8. Staying with the rookie class, Sydney Brown nearly made his flashiest play of camp. Late in the first team session, the third-rounder lined up in the post and broke on a throw outside the numbers to receiver Tyrie Cleveland. The two jumped up for the Ian Book throw at the last moment, and Cleveland was able to get just enough of it to keep Brown from coming down with a leaping interception. Brown, not happy with failing to net the turnover, pounded the grass but pounced back up and was ready to go for the next play. – Fran Duffy

9. Defensive end Derek Barnett, getting healthier, got a lot of reps mixing in with the first-team defense on Friday. He showed up in the first 11-on-11 period with a pressure on Jalen Hurts that forced the quarterback to break the pocket and settle for a run late in the down. – Fran Duffy

10. Kenneth Gainwell made a couple of really nice catches today away from his body as a checkdown option for quarterbacks Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota. Gainwell, who was an excellent receiver in his college days at Memphis, has been used in that phase of the game here in Philadelphia and has been an active pass catcher so far this summer. His first catch of the day was perhaps the most impressive, securing a low throw from Mariota against the blitz and plucking it just off the top of the grass blades before working upfield. – Fran Duffy

11. The third team period was held in the red zone and defensive end Brandon Graham set the tone early on the first two plays. First, he set the edge so D'Andre Swift was forced back inside where tackle Jordan Davis was waiting for him. Then, Graham bullrushed Lane Johnson to force Jalen Hurts out of the pocket. Defensive end Josh Sweat showed tremendous hustle chasing Hurts from sideline to sideline. Boston Scott later scored on a touchdown run when Jason Kelce climbed to block the linebacker and Jack Stoll held his own at the line of scrimmage to create a crease. Later, the new-look OL returned and Jurgens, out of center, pulled left and climbed to the second level to aid Hurts in a scoring run. Hurts scored another touchdown run when he rolled right looking for A.J. Brown, who went left to right in pre-snap motion, and when the throw wasn't there simply cut it back inside. Rookie safety Sydney Brown showed his explosiveness, reading a handoff from Marcus Mariota to Kenneth Gainwell. As the running back went to sweep to the left side, the rookie was right there to slow him down. – Chris McPherson

12. The final period of the day was a 2-minute drill and Jalen Hurts was picked off for the first time in Training Camp. On the first snap, Hurts got lucky as Reed Blankenship nearly had the interception, but he tipped the ball into the air and A.J. Brown was able to bring it in. Darius Slay finally netted one for the defense as pressure from up the middle forced Hurts to roll right. He tried to hit Dallas Goedert on an out route by the sideline, but Slay was in zone coverage, kept track of the quarterback, and hauled in the turnover. – Chris McPherson

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