The final week of 2017 OTAs kicked off on Monday, as the Eagles hit the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex.
The final week of Organized Team Activities began Monday at the NovaCare Complex. Dave Spadaro, Chris McPherson, and Fran Duffy share what they saw from the field.
Smith: Wentz Makes The Job Easy
Wide receiver Torrey Smith has been open and available to the media for every Organized Team Activity session seen by reporters, and on Monday Smith was at his best of the spring with a number of get-open catches and big plays down the field.
Clearly, his level of comfort in the offense is growing with each day on the field.
"No doubt about it," said Smith, who signed a three-year contract as an unrestricted free agent in March. "It takes some time to get used to all of the new things that come your way – the team, the playbook, the city, and all of that – and I really feel like I'm making the kind of progress I want to make. I feel like I'm in a good place."
Smith has been taking the first-team reps at wide receiver along with Alshon Jeffery and the two play off of each other with their strengths. Quarterback Carson Wentz has said in the spring that he likes the developing chemistry with his new wide receiver corps.
"Carson gets you the ball where you want it so he makes the job easy," Smith said. "It's just a matter of going out there and knowing my assignment and playing relaxed football and doing my thing. I'm getting there. It's still only June, but I really like where I am right now." - DS
Big Play Again: Wentz To Jeffery
As was the case last week when Wentz threw a ball into the end zone for Jeffery to go get with his ability to "high point" the football, the two connected again on Monday.
This time, though, Wentz rolled to his left and heaved a throw – showing off his arm strength, even if his base was aligned to the left – deep for Jeffery, who beat double coverage to make the catch. The line of scrimmage was the 50-yard line and Jeffery made the catch inside the 5-yard line, leaving cornerback Jalen Mills shaking his head.
"It was kind of a broken play. It was a play-action pass and I just didn't feel comfortable with the routes. They had it covered pretty well," Wentz said. "I just scrambled and made a play. Alshon had really good recognition to take it deep while Torrey was kind of in the intermediate area, so I felt confident in giving Alshon a chance. I felt confident that I could make the throw, so obviously, it worked out.
"We've got to see that, hopefully, on some Sundays." - DS
Warmack And His Transition To Eagles
Offensive lineman Chance Warmack was the 10th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, going to Tennessee, after an All-America career at Alabama. When he had a chance to move after the 2016 campaign as an unrestricted free agent, Warmack came to the Eagles on a one-year contract.
He has been taking second-team reps at the guard positions as he learns the scheme.
"I'm in familiar territory with the coaching," said Warmack, who was coached by Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland in college. "I don't pay any attention to the competition. I try to develop myself. As long as I do what I'm supposed to do, I'm good. As long as I'm doing what I have to do, whether it be the left side or the right side, it doesn't matter to me, I know there is going to be a spot for me."
It's too early to know how Warmack fits into a deep offensive line equation. He is still learning the offense. Training Camp will tell the tale fully.
"I feel good. I feel real good. It's one thing to understand it, and now I want to play at a high level," Warmack said. "If I can play at a high level with these plays, then everything is going to take off from there." - DS
1. One of my first takeaways early in the session was that Carson Wentz looked sharp, earning praise from offensive coordinator Frank Reich multiple times. On throws where he had to drive the football to the intermediate area, Wentz threw tight, crisp spirals with good ball placement for much of the day. As the practice wore on and rain began to fall in Philadelphia, some passes got away from him, but overall I thought Carson had a strong outing. One of the highlights of the day came on a deep post route to Torrey Smith for a long touchdown, where the throw was perfectly placed between the hashes about 40 yards downfield. Later, Wentz would avoid an exotic blitz in a team period, roll to his left, and find Alshon Jeffery streaking down the middle of the field for another long gain and near touchdown. - FD
2. I spent the individual drills with the receivers, and Alshon Jeffery made a one-handed grab look easy, darting past bags simulating a press corner before stabbing his right hand out to snag a pass away from his frame in the blink of an eye. - FD
3. In the first team period of the afternoon, rookie Derek Barnett came up short in his pursuit of the quarterback, but got his hands up and knocked a pass up in the air that was nearly intercepted in the secondary. - FD
4. Wide receiver Nelson Agholor has been consistently one of the standouts during the spring, and he had another good day on Monday. He caught the ball smoothly all afternoon and made a great catch over the shoulder down the right sideline from Nick Foles early in the practice. Later, Agholor ran a picture perfect corner route, shaking the defender at the top of his stem and breaking open for a completion from Wentz. - FD
5. The pass Agholor caught from Foles came against rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas, who came back on the very next play and made a nice play on a pass breakup. - FD
6. Second-year cornerback C.J. Smith made an acrobatic interception downfield of quarterback Matt McGloin. Smith has earned praise from coaches and teammates since last summer, and the former undrafted free agent will likely be counted on to play a pretty significant role in the secondary this fall. - FD
7. While we're on the topic of undrafted free agents, a couple of others stood out today as well. Running back Corey Clement had a nice run to end a scrimmage period toward the end of practice, as the bigger back looked smooth on his way to finding a cutback lane. Former quarterback-turned-receiver Greg Ward once again flashed soft hands and quickness in and out of breaks during individual drills and then made an outstanding grab in a team period later in the day where he accidentally collided with a teammate at the catch point but still came away with the football. - FD
8. One of my favorite moments in practice came on a broken play in a team period, where Wentz had to scramble in the backfield before tucking the ball and running down the right sideline. Right there in pursuit was star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who played with intensity and effort all day long for the defense. - FD
9. Another hustle play was made by new defensive tackle Gabe Wright, who chased Clement 20 yards down the field on a rushing attempt. That's a way to get noticed by the coaches. - CM
10. Safety Jaylen Watkins came up with an interception of a quarterback Carson Wentz pass that sailed high intended for tight end Trey Burton during an 11-on-11 drill. One thing of note on the play was that defensive end Chris Long lined up at right defensive end and dropped back in coverage. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, who has been paired with Cox along the first-team unit all spring, suffered an ankle sprain on the play. He was tended to on the sideline by the training staff before walking back inside the NovaCare Complex. - CM
11. Linebacker Nigel Bradham intercepted a short Carson Wentz pass over the middle that was intended for tight end Brent Celek in an 11-on-11 drill. - CM
12. Fashion note. While black athletic shorts are the preferred style for virtually everyone on the roster, the starting safety duo of Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod go in a different direction - uniform shorts. Think of the white Eagles uniform pants that you would see on gameday, only as tight shorts. Figures that two of the more fashionable players on the team would look to be different. - CM
13. The winner of the offseason Mr. Olympia contest, in my opinion, is Terrence Brooks. The safety joined the Eagles last September after he was released at the end of the preseason by the Ravens. He played in 11 games, mostly on special team, but in just three defensive snaps recorded the game-clinching interception, the first of his career, in the win over the Giants. Now, he's looking to entrench his spot in a deep safety group.
"I think the DB group is pound for pound the strongest in this locker room," Brooks said. "We're always competing, yelling, talking. It's a great atmosphere. I love it, man."
Brooks said that his main focus this offseason was improving his footwork. By the look of his physique, he didn't skip leg days. - CM