One of Head Coach Nick Sirianni's core principles is competition. It's found up and down the roster at each position and it's only going to heighten as the first public practice is Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field (tickets still available), followed shortly by the first preseason game next Thursday night against the Steelers.
As head coach, Sirianni has found unique ways to liven up practices with competitive drills in his first Training Camp. The coaches keep score and name either the offense or the defense the winner after practice.
During the last period of practice on Saturday, Sirianni riled up the team by declaring that the winner of the final play, a third-down situation between the third-team units, triumphed for the period. Quarterback Nick Mullens took the snap, stared down a blitz from safety Elijah Riley, and fired the ball with anticipation to the left sideline where running back Jason Huntley made the play despite several defensive backs buzzing to the ball. Sirianni got what he wanted – execution in the clutch.
"Good teams are talented," running back Boston Scott said. "Great teams resort to fundamentals under pressure." – Chris McPherson
Here are the rest of the practice notes for Saturday, August 7:
• Coach Sirianni added a new player T-shirt to his rotation on Saturday with a green "Run Boobie Run" top to honor running back Miles Sanders. Sirianni's wardrobe also includes pieces that previously honored Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, and Jake Elliott. You have to wonder what he'll pull out of the drawer for Sunday evening's public practice at Lincoln Financial Field? Another fashion note: K'Von Wallace endorsing the Eagles' energy green with a T-shirt under his jersey as well as accents on his cleats. Easy way for the second-year safety to stand out in practice. – C-Mac
• The Eagles announced before practice that linebacker Alex Singleton was activated off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The team had an open roster spot, so no other corresponding moves were necessary. Singleton immediately worked with Eric Wilson and the first-team defense throughout the day. Later, you'll read how he made an immediate impact in his return to the lineup. – C-Mac
• From an injury standpoint, wide receiver John Hightower left Thursday's practice early with a groin injury and is week to week. Four players were added to the injury list as day to day – defensive back Grayland Arnold (hamstring), defensive end Genard Avery (groin), linebacker Shaun Bradley (non-COVID illness), and safety Obi Melifonwu (hamstring). Wide receiver Michael Walker (foot) returned to practice Saturday in a limited capacity. – C-Mac
• Watching wide receiver individual drills, it's great to see the "elder statesman" of this position group, Greg Ward, take on more of a leadership role this summer. The former undrafted free agent was working hard with another player who did not hear his name called in the draft, rookie Jhamon Ausbon, between reps of a drill. – Ben Fennell
• In the opening team session, Josh Sweat had an impressive rush towards the end of the drill, firing off the left side and tapping Jalen Hurts on the shoulder for a "sack" (Hurts quickly hit Zach Ertz afterward downfield with a throw). Sweat has been a consistent source of pressure here in camp, and he was at it again on the very next rep, flying into the backfield off a stunt and getting right into the face of the quarterback and forcing him to break to his right. – Fran Duffy
• Eric Wilson came away with an impressive interception along the right side. It was an athletic catch on a broken play where the quarterback was rolling right – an example of plays we've seen Wilson make over the course of his career. – Ben
• After the opening team sessions, I posted up in the end zone and watched the running backs and linebackers go through one-on-one drills, practicing blitzes and pass protection. Once again, Kerryon Johnson showed off his pass pro prowess, while Wilson had a handful of wins against a couple of different running backs as well. – Fran
• The second team period begins, and Jalen Hurts gets into a bit of a rhythm in the opening sequence, hitting four straight passes to Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Greg Ward, and Ertz before going to the sideline. All four passes were quick throws in the short-to-intermediate part of the field. – Fran
• After that team session, the team broke off into two groups. Per usual, I traveled with the linemen to go watch one-on-one drills on the far field. Some notes:
1. The first-team defensive line looked sharp all day, and it was no different in this drill. Brandon Graham had a good win on a power rush. Fletcher Cox channeled his inner-Reggie White with his patented "Hump" move against Jack Driscoll inside. Javon Hargrave got another win – he's been impressive every day over here. This group as a whole is very strong.
2. Casey Tucker, working inside at guard, quick-setted the defensive tackle and shut down his rush early on. Tucker has been impressive out at tackle and proved his versatility with more work inside today.
3. Jordan Mailata and Josh Sweat got a rep together in what I would call a stalemate. Both players have had impressive summers, and on this snap Sweat tried to bull rush Mailata, who shut the door on that before Sweat worked to counter and get into the backfield late. Good rep on both sides there.
4. Those weren't the only impressive battles in the drill. Undrafted free agent Harry Crider had a good rep against veteran defensive tackle T.Y. McGill, as coaches praised his get-off on the snap. Matt Pryor and Derek Barnett had a good snap on the right side of the offensive line. Last but not least was the rep between rookie Milton Williams and guard Sua Opeta. Williams got a good initial push on a power move, which Opeta was able to anchor down and stop before Williams spun off and got into the backfield. That was a good rep to close the drill. – Fran
• I had eyes on the 7-on-7 drill, and the Eagles really seemed to prioritize working on the quick game today. There were a ton of quick throws over the middle, whether they were to backs, tight ends, or receivers. The ball was coming out fast. – Ben
• The defensive front seven was extremely active to start the next drill. The first play was blown dead after the defensive line collapsed the pocket, forcing Hurts to roll to his left. Two plays later, Alex Singleton nearly picked off a pass in his first day back on the field, stepping in front of a Hurts pass intended for Kenny Gainwell. A couple of plays later, Derek Barnett got into the backfield for a sack. – Fran
• Building off of that thought, I really think the strength of this team will be along the lines of scrimmage on both sides. Most of the best players on the roster rest along the offensive and defensive lines, and I think that showed up today. – Ben
• The offense and defense competed in the final team period, where they moved the ball up and down the field. The offense got into an early hole after a false start and a diving pass breakup by safety Anthony Harris on a throw intended for Dallas Goedert, but they rebounded soon after. Hurts hit three straight completions to end the drill to Greg Ward, Jordan Howard, and Travis Fulgham to give the first-team offense a boost before exiting the field. – Fran
• Andrew Adams made one of the best plays I've seen a safety make this summer with a pass breakup deep downfield on a pass intended for tight end Tyree Jackson. I wish I could tell you I knew where he came from, but there was just a blur of a white jersey flying across the field on the deep pass that fell incomplete. Adams has made his presence known since returning to the field. – Ben