Good morning, Eagles fans! Happy Monday! It is the start of a new week here at the NovaCare Complex as the Eagles prep for their game against the Jaguars on Thursday. Practice will begin at 9:45 a.m. today and offensive coordinator Mike Groh will meet with the media afterward. The press conference will be livestreamed here and on our social media platforms. In this edition of Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft, there is a lot to cover from this past weekend. Let’s jump right into the top stories!
1. The new normal: Practice tempo used as game reps
Understand this about the way Eagles head coach Doug Pederson approaches practices, takes pride in the tempo, and the intensity each day at the NovaCare Complex, that there is a whole lot more going into the evaluation of players than the reps they get in the preseason games.
The NFL is evolving, Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro writes, and that includes the way the coaching staff wants to look at players. No longer is it a guarantee that the “starters play at least a half” in the third preseason game, as has kind of been an unwritten rule for many seasons. The trend across the league is that starters are playing fewer and fewer snaps in games and playing more snaps in the practices.
“This is the thing, a game rep, yeah OK, but if you watched practice today, this is a game,” Pederson said on Saturday when asked a question about running back Miles Sanders. "We're not tackling to the ground, but from a contact standpoint, from reading the hole, from burst, acceleration, these are game-like practices.”
2. Eagle Eye: Malik Jackson will take Fletcher Cox's game to another level
Fran Duffy profiled the new additions on defense and how they performed in the preseason opener against the Titans, focusing on defensive tackle Malik Jackson.
Since he came out of Tennessee in 2012, Jackson has been one of the most disruptive interior rushers in the entire NFL. He wins with quickness, power, and technique. He is a violent player through and through. I believe his presence will have a huge impact not just on the defensive ends, but on an elite talent in Fletcher Cox, who will now the best pure pass-rushing defensive tackle playing next to him that he's ever had. What happens when teams try to double-team Cox on passing downs? Teams will have to have answers for Jackson, who has consistently shown the ability to win one-on-one throughout his career.
3. Practice Notes: Alshon Jeffery shines, Malcolm Pickins, and DTs wreak havoc
After a practice that lasted two hours and five minutes on Sunday, the clear takeaway was that the Eagles are using Training Camp practices as the time for getting the starters quality reps leading up to the regular season, as there were extensive sessions with the first-team units battling one another.
"You can't have the guys that want to turn it on in the game," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "You should want to turn it on in practice so you can look good when we're watching film. The more trust the coaches have in you, the more they're going to take care of you."
One of the players of the day was wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who made a number of catches. Something to note with Jeffery is that this is the first Training Camp that he's been healthy for since signing with the Eagles in 2017. He initially injured his shoulder very early in that first Training Camp and missed all of last year's preseason following offseason surgery to repair the shoulder. Having Jeffery and Carson Wentz healthy together to work on their timing is another reason to be excited about the offense.
4. New DE Eli Harold looks to make a fast – and lasting – impression
A third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2015, defensive end Eli Harold has experienced the business side of the NFL extensively in his brief time here. Harold then ventured to the Lions and Bills for short stints, before being traded to the Eagles. Spadaro chatted with Harold about trying to find a home in Philadelphia.
“First of all, it’s nice to be wanted,” Harold said on Sunday, following his first practice with the Eagles at the NovaCare Complex. “I’m excited about the opportunity. I can’t wait to really get to work with the guys and learn the defense and how to build this thing the right way.”
5. Practice Notes: Derek Barnett, Ronald Darby increase workload
The Eagles returned to the practice field Saturday morning for a workout that lasted two hours and 10 minutes. The players are in a game week routine of sorts, with Saturday kicking off four days of full practice before a travel day ahead of the upcoming showdown in Jacksonville. Fran Duffy, Ben Fennell, and Chris McPherson recap the action here.
The defense makes the first big play of the day, with Nathan Gerry stepping in front of a screen pass and taking it back to the house. Gerry appeared to be blitzing off the edge in the direction of the screen and reacted quickly, showing off the hands that allowed him to intercept 12 passes in his college career. – Fran Duffy
6. Nate Sudfeld 'on the road to recovery'
Sudfeld had surgery on his left wrist early Friday morning, after sustaining an injury bracing his fall in the game Thursday night. Find out how he plans on attacking the recovery process here.
“I feel great,” Sudfeld said. “Surgery went great (Friday). I’m really thankful for the service and that they did such a good job and that they got me in so fast. As far as timetable, I’m trying to get back as soon as I can, but I’ve never broken a bone before so I’m trying to listen to the doctors and hopefully be back really soon."
7. For the rookie class, first taste of game action kicks off next stage of development
The preseason game may not have ended with the ideal scoring result, but the rookies definitely gained vital experience. While the jitters of playing in the NFL starting to wear off, the new Eagles reflect on playing the game they love. Spadaro caught up with the young players after their first game. Check out the full story here.
“I feel more settled in and comfortable with what I’m doing and what’s going on,” first-round draft pick Andre Dillard said. “At first, everything is fast. I remember that first weekend, being drafted and doing all the media and then flying to Philadelphia and meeting so many people and doing more media. It was pretty crazy.”
8. Press Taylor not, well, pressing about backup QB situation
After the injury to Nate Sudfeld, quarterbacks coach Press Taylor is content with the other men he has in his position room. Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson will now be getting more action in practice and in the preseason games. For more information on the quarterback situation, check out the full story here.
“Right now, obviously, that moves everybody up the totem pole a little bit,” Taylor said. “Everybody will get more reps and we’ll just continue to attack it like we have dispersing reps throughout the group like we’ve been doing.”