Phase two of Training Camp is nearly here, just days away. The Eagles have been playing Midnight Green (offense) against White (defense) for two weeks now and, frankly, they've seen enough of each other. The Red team (quarterbacks) has seen it all from White and while there is something to be gained every single day in practice, it's just that time.
The dog days – or in the case of this football team, the dawg days – of Training Camp.
"I'm tired of seeing James (Bradberry) and (Darius) Slay and Josh Jobe, because they've seen it all," wide receiver A.J. Brown said about the Eagles' cornerbacks he lines up against each day at practice. "They've seen the splits, they've seen the routes. You want to judge yourself on how well you do against others."
That time begins on Saturday with the preseason opener at Baltimore, although for a player like Brown, we don't know if he will play in the game. Saturday represents a turning point in the preseason and Training Camp, because after that, the Cleveland Browns come to town for a couple of days of joint practices and, like last year, that work is so very beneficial.
From an evaluation standpoint, the dynamic changes considerably moving forward. Each day is ultra-important and the players are held to extremely high standards, but there is something about now changing the opponent. As Brown said, the cornerbacks know every route he's going to run. Conversely, he knows how they're going to defend him and he has seen enough of them to understand some tips they may be showing.
While guys like Brown are going to benefit from the preseason games and the joint practices, it's the younger corps of Eagles players who are really going to realize the importance.
"Preseason for me, that was the first time I played in a football game, so it's always meant a lot to me," left tackle Jordan Mailata said. "Now I've gotten more experience, but the way I look at it, I think every rep on the field is important. I've seen so much of BG (Brandon Graham) and Sweaty (Josh Sweat) and Nolan Smith and those guys, we are going to enjoy competing against other teams."
We've still got a couple of days to go before the preseason opener, and with this one-day-at-a-time mentality, don't get the impression that the Eagles are looking ahead. That's not the case. It's just a message that the next step in the summer is coming and, when you step back and consider everything, this is going to feel really fast for everyone watching.
In the span of less than three weeks, the Eagles are going to play three preseason games, host two teams (Cleveland and Indianapolis) for joint practices and then, on August 29 by 4 PM, reduce the roster from 90 players to 53 and then turn all attention toward the regular season and the opener in New England.
"I think when you're new to the league, one of the first things you learn is that things move fast and you have to stay on top of everything," said defensive end Brandon Graham, the longest-tenured professional athlete in the City of Philadelphia. "We're doing that and we're helping the young guys. Every day we've come out here prepared to play football, so you just stay in the moment and focus on that and do your job and everything takes care of itself after that."
What do we know about the Eagles? Quite a bit about a lot of things and not as much about others, given two new coordinators and a large handful of new players, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. We're about to learn a whole lot more, not necessarily about the schemes from Brian Johnson (offense) and Sean Desai (defense), but about how the players respond to new faces and different technique and new approaches from other teams.
The summer is heating up at just the right time because, connecting or not, the Eagles are ready for some new players to compete against and see where they stand.
"It will be a really good time, a really good chance to see where we're at – this team, and going against other people and competing at a high level," Brown said. "Just seeing a different jersey, seeing how this team reacts to competing at a high level against just not ourselves."