The first Training Camp practice is in the books! Fran Duffy, Ben Fennell, and Chris McPherson offer the following 11 insights from Wednesday's debut session at the NovaCare Complex.
1. As Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman held their press conference, players started exiting the NovaCare Complex and walking onto the practice field with fans in attendance welcoming the unofficial start of the season. A group of young fans began cheering and chanting players' names as they emerged from the building. This time, they spotted talented cornerback Darius Slay and began to chant his name.
"Darius! Darius! Darius!"
Slay responded, "Hey! It's Slay! Just Slay!"
The kids responded in kind, altering their chant as the Pro Bowl corner ran in their direction, shaking all of their hands, welcoming them to practice, and taking a picture before taking the field for warm-ups.
This was the most "normal" player-fan interaction I've witnessed here at Training Camp since the summer of 2019, and it was great to see. – Fran Duffy
2. This isn't a walkthrough, but it will definitely be a bit of a lighter session. All of the trench players are wearing the protective soft helmet caps, as are a number of the tight ends. It's just great to be back out here for some football. – Ben Fennell
3. Even though there weren't pads, Head Coach Nick Sirianni explained that it would be a high-intensity practice. Each day is marked as a "green" (high-intensity), "yellow," or "red' (walkthrough) practice.
"So our third day, which tomorrow would be our third day, they had hard conditioning yesterday. They're going to have an intense practice today. In our third day, numbers tell us not only on our team, but throughout the league that soft tissue injuries shoot up that day. So that's the reason for that," Sirianni said.
"We're doing as much as we possibly can to prevent those things. My job is to make sure that the team is ready to play. I have to listen to the experts. I have to listen to our doctors. I have to listen to the strength and performance staff. I have to listen to the trainers. But at the end of the day, I have to make sure the team is ready to play. So, it isn't just blind faith-following. It's educated of how we're doing these things. And then like I said, I have to sometimes make hard decisions on what to do and what not to do." – Chris McPherson
4. This wide receiver position is going to be fun to watch all summer long, and as they take the field for individual drills I find myself cycling through the Rolodex of names on the depth chart. I'm going to really be focusing in on one of the newest Eagles, A.J. Brown, throughout the first week of camp. DeVonta Smith has to be feeling so much different going into his sophomore season as opposed to swimming in his rookie year. Other young players like Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, and John Hightower are bound to flash. Those three guys came in together and are now all competing for reps this summer. – Ben
5. After individual drills, the first 11-on-11 session of the season begins down in the red zone. After a Dallas Goedert touchdown grab from Jalen Hurts (one of a couple on the day), second-year running back Kenneth Gainwell takes an angle route over the middle for a touchdown, running away from the defense into the end zone. Gainwell would prove to be an active participant on Wednesday, reaching the end zone several times over the course of the morning session as both a runner and receiver. – Fran
6. Quez Watkins caught two touchdowns in consecutive periods, both in different fashion. The first came on one of the most impressive reps of the day, a jump ball to the back shoulder over cornerback Avonte Maddox. The ball was well-placed by Hurts, and the third-year speedster came down with it for the score, much to the enjoyment of the fans in attendance. Later, Hurts rolled to his right and had nobody open early in the progression. Crossing late from the other side of the field, in the back of the end zone, was Watkins. Hurts hit him for six. – Fran
7. I said earlier that I would be studying Brown for the next few practices, and he definitely had his share of catches and targets on day one. He caught a touchdown in the opening series from Hurts at the front pylon. In the next period, Hurts hit him again on a crossing route, but linebacker T.J. Edwards crashed down and punched the ball out for a turnover. – Ben
8. Late in the 7-on-7 period, with the third-team offense out on the field and the starters getting their rest, there was some confusion from some of the younger players before the snap. As they tried to work it out, quarterback Jalen Hurts stepped up to shout out the corrections and get guys lined up. Sirianni wanted the players to handle it on their own. I thought this was a really interesting exchange between the two, as it gave some insight into both personalities. Hurts, being the leader that he is, wanted to help get his guys set up. Sirianni, being the coach that he is, wanted to let the rookies and young veterans figure it out on their own. After the play, both Sirianni and Hurts caught up with the players involved and went through the corrections. – Fran
9. Another team period begins, and this was one of the better sequences for the defense. On the third play, with Hurts checking the ball down to Gainwell in the flat, the defense rallied to the football FAST. Second-year defensive tackle Milton Williams drew praise from Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon after the rep. Later, cornerback James Bradberry tightly contested a fade in the direction of DeVonta Smith (who nearly came down with the beautiful one-hander), forcing an incompletion. Young defensive tackle Marvin Wilson also knocked a ball down at the line of scrimmage late in the drill. – Fran
10. My favorite "wow" play of the day may have come from Marcus Epps, who secured an interception in the end zone by the front pylon. Hurts threw a pass intended for Goedert, and this was not a bad throw at all. Epps just made an outstanding jump on the play, exploding to the catch point, and finishing for the diving interception against the out-breaking route. Just a ridiculous play by Epps as the practice neared its ending. – Ben
11. Haason Reddick made his presence known in this drill as well, getting home off the offense's right side with a "sack" of Hurts, forcing the quarterback to scramble off his spot. I'm excited for one-on-one drills to begin in the trenches next week. – Fran