Wednesday marked the last day of practices with only rookies and selected vets before the rest of the team takes the fields at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday afternoon. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich met with the media to not only provide his initial evaluations of the rookies during Training Camp, but to also announce that second-year offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo will open Training Camp as the starting left guard. Last year, Seumalo played in nine games for the Eagles, starting four contests at three different positions: two at left guard, one at right guard, and one at right tackle. The 6-4, 303-pound Oregon State product made his debut in Week 9 against the Giants and showed promising signs down the stretch.
"Isaac's the starter and then there's just competition from there," Reich told reporters. "(He's) very smart, understands what's being coached, understands fronts, understands defensive schemes, what to anticipate. Very athletic, tough-minded player."
Still, Reich expects the competition at the left guard spot to remain competitive leading up to the regular season.
"That's the great thing about Training Camp, the great thing about this business. It's just so stinking competitive," Reich said. "It's what the guys love about it, it's what we love about it, so it'll play itself out."
Just one more day until the vets take the field... Check out these images from Eagles Camp.
Here's what else Reich discussed with the media.
On the younger players who have stood out so far during Training Camp: "I think so far the younger players are showing themselves well. All through spring, OTAs, this little three-day rookie Training Camp is a good introduction to get re-acclimated. As coaches we get excited, we see guys do things, we see Mack Hollins make a play or Marcus Johnson, some of the plays that Pump (Donnel Pumphrey) has made. He made a great catch out there today and as coaches get excited, on the flip side you always temper that because the pads aren't on yet, so the guys are doing a good job."
On RB Donnel Pumphrey's adjustment to becoming a pass catcher: "I think he has exceeded expectations in that area. I think that's something that we saw. There were flashes. He wasn't used a lot like that in college, but we thought there were some things there that could be a part of where he could develop at. I think he's developed faster in that area than maybe anticipated, but again you temper that because the bullets aren't live yet, but very encouraged by his progress for sure."
On last year's issue of third-and-long situations: "There's no doubt especially earlier in the year that our third-and-long situation was bad. We have to be more efficient on first and second downs to make third downs more manageable. (You can) probably pretty much do a statistic on third-and-average yards to go, you're going to see who the good offenses are. It felt to me we got better as the year went on there. I think we need to continue to focus on that. That'll make us better on third downs and drives and everything gets better when you convert on third down. All the years show, all the stats show, the less yards to go, it's just common sense. So we have to run the football better and then we've got to make plays on third down.
On his assessment of how Nelson Agholor played in the slot during the spring: "I thought Nelson played extremely well in the slot in the spring. I thought he played well outside, I thought he had a great spring. I think what everybody saw was true out here on the field and in the room. So I'm excited about the confidence he'll be bringing into Training Camp."
On the play of TE Billy Brown: "I think Billy has some playmaking ability. He's got a little speed, he has good hands. I think he's learning the offense and we'll see when the pads get on. You still have to be an effective blocker at some level and I think he has some toughness to him. I think he showed me a little more toughness at the line of scrimmage than I was expecting so that's encouraging."
On the NFL ability of WR Mack Hollins: "I think he's a big man with size and build with speed. He can get vertical down the field. He has really high above-average ball skills and we'll see just how good of ball skills as time goes on. I think he's really smart and versatile. I think for a big man his route-running skills, his footwork, in and out of routes, is very good for a big man."
On WR Greg Ward's transition from college quarterback to NFL receiver: "I think Greg's transition has been phenomenal. Again, I get excited as a coach. I see he has some really instinctual natural movements as a slot receiver, things that are even hard to coach that he does exceedingly well. He has a knack. He has very good ball skills, so I'm really surprised and I just think he's way exceeded expectations. Again, now the other side of me says, 'Frank, temper that,' still got a long way to go."
On the biggest challenge for quarterbacks in their second year: "Incremental growth, don't try to do too much, try and stay the course, this thing is a marathon. Not only is it a marathon season, but it's a marathon career. You've got to have a steady eye and focus on the daily process and staying committed to that, not getting to carried away with everything else and know what it takes to be a great player. And so as a quarterback because there's so much on your plate, the temptation is always going to be to try and do too much. So you as a player have to fight that, coaches have to help you fight that, and I know we do that with Carson (Wentz) and then at the same time he keeps pushing as well and that's a good dynamic."
On what he wanted to accomplish with the young receivers before the veterans return: "You want to get simple stuff like alignments and formations. We have to get in and out of the huddle. There's going to be an increased emphasis on trying to get the play clock going fast this year, maybe a split second faster than it's been. We have got to break the huddle, get alignment. You can't be shifting around at the end. You've got to be (about) assignment football, you've got to know what you're doing. It sounds simple but we have a lot of football formations, motions, movements, getting lined up right. Then the other thing you want to see, and I look for this a lot, is how explosive are you off the football. Because in this game you cannot replace being explosive. Explosiveness starts with those first 5 yards and that's kind of one of the things I've been watching."