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Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes | August 8, 2023

Fletcher Cox
Fletcher Cox

How did the new linebackers fare? Who made the play of the day? Fran Duffy and Chris McPherson have it all covered in their 14 takeaways from Tuesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex.

Pre-Practice Injury Report: Wide receiver Devon Allen was activated off the Non-Football Injury list just before practice on Tuesday. He was limited coming back from the calf injury. Cornerback James Bradberry returned to practice in a limited capacity. He had been sidelined with a groin injury. Three players did not participate in practice due to injury – wide receiver Deon Cain (ankle), linebacker Nakobe Dean (ankle), and linebacker Patrick Johnson (ankle).

1. After the team stretch, the Eagles broke into a special teams period as the team went through the paces for their kickoff return unit. A trio of running backs, Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny, and Kenneth Gainwell (with Scott leading the way) took the first set of reps catching kicks. We know the value that Scott brings in that phase (he also had a really nice cut on the team's first run from scrimmage in 11-on-11 for a nice gain downhill). Second-year receiver Devon Allen, fresh off the Non-Football Injury list, got a couple of looks back there as well, along with A.J. Brown – who somehow looked faster today in his bright yellow cleats. – Fran Duffy

2. As the team separated into individual drills, I had my eyes on the defensive backs. Today, the group worked a drill that I had not ever seen before ... but one that I really liked! Four cones were set up in a square, with three players in the middle, back-to-back, facing the outside. On the whistle, the three players (a ball carrier and two defenders) ran to separate corners of the box. When they hit their respective cones, the two defenders had to corral the ball carrier. The goal is to get reps "vice" tackling, working in tandem with a teammate to outleverage a ball carrier and get him to the ground. The Eagles were obviously not live tackling here, but the act of actually going through the vice technique with a teammate against a moving target is still a very valuable rep. – Fran Duffy

3. The first team period begins and on the first rep, the linebacker duo is Nicholas Morrow and Christian Elliss, but on the second play, Elliss comes off the field for newly signed linebacker Myles Jack. Wearing No. 47, Jack got one play and then went back to the sideline in favor of Elliss again, so he was mixing in with the first-team defense on Tuesday with Nakobe Dean still on the sideline. Zach Cunningham, wearing No. 52, got reps with the second-team defense alongside Shaun Bradley. Jack flashed a couple of times playing downhill and attacking lead blockers in the hole in his first official day in Eagles Green. – Fran Duffy

4. On that second play from the opening team period, Quez Watkins lined up on the left side of the formation. He ran a deep over route against cornerback Avonte Maddox for a gain of nearly 30 yards. Haason Reddick did beat the block from guard Landon Dickerson, who was pulling, and put on the brakes before getting to quarterback Jalen Hurts. Marcus Mariota was aggressive early in this initial team period. On his first snap, he targeted a familiar friend in wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus on a fade route down the left sideline, but rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo was there stride for stride to bat the pass away. On the second snap, Mariota zipped the ball into the void in the zone, putting it just over the linebacker for the completion. – Chris McPherson

5. Rashaad Penny had a couple of nice runs on Tuesday, starting with a perimeter run in the first team period where he was able to get outside the tackle box, put his foot in the ground, and eat up a chunk of yardage downhill. Towards the end of practice, Penny hit the corner and got the offensive teammates on that sideline excited with his burst to the edge. – Fran Duffy

6. The two rookies from Georgia combined for a "sack" of fellow first-year guy Tanner McKee to close out the first period. Jalen Carter got a strong bull rush inside, forcing McKee backwards in the pocket as Smith was there to end the play. Smith's speed off the edge and Carter's power inside made for a good combination on that rep. – Fran Duffy

7. While C-Mac had eyes on the 7-on-7 period, I watched the offensive and defensive linemen go head-to-head in pass rush drills. Jordan Davis had a couple of impressive rushes; showing off some initial quickness against Jason Kelce (who recovered well on the rep) before later executing a great bull rush against backup center Josh Andrews. Landon Dickerson locked up a bull rush from third-year tackle Milton Williams. Nolan Smith worked an impressive inside move to get a win over veteran tackle Fred Johnson. Jalen Carter had some good rushes as well, beating Sua Opeta on a bull rush early before a pair of sound wins against young veteran Josh Sills. First, Carter got a clean win with an edge rush, winning high side on Sills before the two returned for a rematch. That time, Carter strung multiple moves together against him and pushed the pocket to get home. – Fran Duffy

8. As Fran noted, I took in the 7-on-7 action and it opened with quarterback Jalen Hurts hitting DeVonta Smith on an in-breaking route, taking advantage of the zone coverage played by the defense for a 15-yard gain. On Hurts' final snap of the drill, he connected with wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus on a go route deep down the right sideline for a gain of more than 40 yards. Hurts connected on all five of his pass attempts with two of them to Smith. Marcus Mariota, not wanting to be outdone, went up top deep down the left sideline for wide receiver Quez Watkins on the very next snap. Watkins came down with the ball for a gain of nearly 30 yards. Mariota went 3-of-4 in the period. Rookie cornerback Eli Ricks had a nice pass breakup of a pass intended along the sideline for wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland. Ricks read the out route and broke on the ball, getting the ball to the ground. New Eagles wide receiver Johnny King caught a 20-yard pass from quarterback Ian Book on an in-breaking route. King presents a big target for the quarterback at 6-foot-5, 209 pounds. – Chris McPherson

9. In the second team period with the defensive starters out on the field, we saw some splash plays from young veterans. Milton Williams flew into the backfield and tagged Boston Scott on a perimeter run, with the athletic tackle chasing from the back side and making a play behind the line of scrimmage. Christian Elliss stepped in on the next play and met Scott in the hole (credit K'Von Wallace for being very aggressive and attacking the lead blocker downhill to free up Elliss). Josh Sweat's long-arm bull rush forced Marcus Mariota off his spot on the next rep and created a scramble situation that likely would have ended with a sack. – Fran Duffy

10. Defense was the theme of the day as the second-team unit had several wins. Defensive tackle Kentavius Street split a double-team and flushed quarterback Jalen Hurts out of the pocket on the opening snap. Cornerback Zech McPhearson followed that by notching a pass breakup after not falling for an out-and-up from wide receiver Quez Watkins. Defensive end Derek Barnett flashed off Hurts' left side on the third snap, but credit to the quarterback as he stayed in the pocket and hit wide receiver DeVonta Smith on a comeback route. Three plays later, the defense came up with an interception. From the 16-yard line, Hurts rolled to his right and threw the ball into the end zone for wide receiver A.J. Brown, but the ball was underthrown and safety Justin Evans came up with the pick. Credit the hustle by linebacker Nolan Smith and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox for helping Hurts rush the pass. – Chris McPherson

11. Special Teams Coordinator Michael Clay worked with the kickoff return unit on recovering squib kicks and pop-up kicks. Remember that there is a new rule involving kickoffs this year that expands the touchback zone. Any kickoff return that is fair caught inside the 25-yard line is now considered a touchback. The league predicts that there will be a seven percent reduction in kick returns as a result. This can be negated through the use of squib kicks that bounce on the ground or pop-up kicks that land before the 25-yard line. This will be something to monitor in the preseason. – Chris McPherson

12. Fletcher Cox showed up strong in the final team period, helping to get a couple of wins for the defense on the first two plays. First, Cox's bull rush made Jalen Hurts uncomfortable on a shallow crosser to Quez Watkins, helping to force an incompletion. On the next rep, Cox defeated a down block and stayed square to help corral Trey Sermon on an outside run at the line of scrimmage. – Fran Duffy

13. In the final team period, Jalen Carter took advantage of time with the first team, getting up and under All-Pro tackle Lane Johnson and driving him backwards before corralling D'Andre Swift in the backfield. It was an outstanding rep there from the rookie first-round pick. – Fran Duffy

14. Hurts' day finished with an interception by safety Reed Blankenship. Hurts tried to hit wide receiver Quez Watkins on another deep over route, but Blankenship undercut Watkins and made a diving grab along the sidelines for the interception. – Chris McPherson

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