Pre-practice injury update: Linebacker Haason Reddick did not practice due to groin soreness. Defensive end Derek Barnett (knee) and cornerback Avonte Maddox (toe) were limited.
• When I first get out on the field for the start of practice, I always try to seek out the young players on the roster to get a sense of how they're built and how they move; especially with this being the first time we are seeing many of these players up close. A handful of guys are looking good in this special teams session at the beginning of practice. Rookie UDFA wide receiver Jadon Haselwood caught my eye, however. He's a well-built receiver from Arkansas. Another player's physique stood out as well, as second-year tight end Grant Calcaterra went through blocking drills. The former Day 3 selection looks like he's added more muscle to his frame this offseason as he prepares for Year 2 in the league.
• The team transitioned to ball security circuits, and my eyes are on the defensive backs here. The group gets into a pair of lines, with one acting as a ball carrier and the other coming in pursuit from the middle of the field. The goal? Practicing the "Peanut Punch" – named for longtime Bears cornerback Peanut Tillman who had 44 career forced fumbles – aiming for the ball and punching it to the ground to force a fumble. Veterans Darius Slay and Terrell Edmunds take the first rep, with the latter in pursuit to get the ball on the ground and pounce on it. Edmunds played to the crowd shortly afterwards to draw applause from the fans in attendance. Those punch-out drills came in handy, as Justin Evans would punch a ball out of Jack Stoll's grasp in a 7-on-7 rep and Nakobe Dean would get a forced fumble on a catch by Trey Sermon as well, a ball recovered by linebacker Nicholas Morrow.
• The defensive backs went through a handful of drills during the "individual" periods of practice. First, the corners worked on their angles "tackling" ball carriers coming from the sideline. Afterwards, they worked on their pedaling, moving in reverse on their coach's command before spinning around 180 degrees to catch a ball. Next, they showed off their footwork and reaction quickness in a "wave" drill. Reed Blankenship and K'Von Wallace (who got some reps with the first-team defense today) showed off quick feet here. Rookie Eli Ricks' change of direction showed up as well, especially for a bigger corner. Sydney Brown's burst downhill was evident as well as he finished his reps. Brown would work with the second-team defense today after working with the third-team on Wednesday.
• No Avonte Maddox during team periods today (he participated in individual and 7-on-7 drills), and both young veterans Josiah Scott and Zech McPhearson split time working with the starters in his place.
Check out some of the best photos from Friday's practice at the NovaCare Complex as the heat intensified both on and off the field.
• A.J. Brown was up to his old tricks again on Friday, making plays at every level of the field despite only being targeted a couple of times. The star wideout caught the first Jalen Hurts pass of the day on a slot fade down the left side, looking the ball in over the shoulder along the sideline for the explosive play. Wednesday's opening practice featured all red zone work, so Friday was the first opportunity for the offense to stretch the field. In the next 7-on-7 session he lined up in the slot and fought through contact mid-route from linebacker Nicholas Morrow to secure the catch. Brown's combination of size, speed, and play strength serve him well all over the formation as a pass catcher for Hurts.
• The running backs were very active in the pass game today. Kenneth Gainwell snared a Jalen Hurts pass away from his frame in a scramble drill early on in team sessions and D'Andre Swift had a number of plays as a receiver as well, both on screens and option routes underneath. The backs were catching passes from both Hurts and Marcus Mariota today, and I'm interested to see how much of it continues into preseason games.
• Wide receiver Deon Cain may have just signed with the team before the first practice this summer ... but don't forget that he knows this system having spent time here before. He has stepped in and is making plays right away. Cain caught two passes in a row in 7-on-7 (one on a mesh route where he got open underneath and another on a slant route. Cain also caught a ball from Mariota in an earlier team drill where he made a nice catch in traffic (Mariota floated the ball over the linebacker on a nice play-action touch pass).
• After the pair of completions to Cain in 7-on-7, Mariota hit Greg Ward on a deep post route for a touchdown. It was a beautiful ball to the deep middle of the field, leading the veteran receiver away from coverage. That was the longest throw so far through two days of practice.
• Shaun Bradley made a nice play in a team run period, scraping over the top before squaring up to running back D'Andre Swift in the hole. Bradley's explosiveness has always been evident on special teams and he's shown up on defense so far through two practices in South Philadelphia this summer.
• Brandon Graham made his presence felt on the first two plays of the final team period, sniffing out a screen throw to Dallas Goedert to force an incompletion on the first play before getting pressure off the right side on the second snap in what likely would have been a sack. We were pretty far away from the action on the sideline, but something tells me we would have heard the classic BG cackle after those plays.