Philadelphia Eagles News

Morning Roundup: Jordan Hicks' Hunger Rewarded

A day after practicing in front of 35,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field, it will be a much quieter session on Sunday as the team is back to work at the NovaCare Complex. That doesn't mean the action won't be as spirited as the second preseason game at New England quickly approaches on the horizon. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz meets the media today at around 11:45 a.m., and we will bring that to you live. Until then, get caught up on everything in our Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft.

1. Zach Ertz Shines In Practice

From our Practice Notes, here's just a small sample of the show that Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz put on in front of the crowd at the Linc:

With the starters back on the field and the ball on the 5-yard line, (Nick) Foles dropped back and delivered a picture-perfect touch pass in the back corner of the end zone to Ertz on a wheel route. The star tight end was matched up against Jenkins in man coverage, and Ertz roped in the throw with just his left hand as he fell to the ground and the rest of the stadium jumped to their feet. Ertz begged for a flag on the play, and (Malcolm) Jenkins responded by picking up the back pylon and playfully tossing it in Ertz's direction. It's important to note, as well, that Derek Barnett was right in Foles' grill as he delivered the ball, and he actually pulled up when he got there, after beating Jason Peters around the corner on the snap.

Foles and Ertz weren't done yet, however. On the very next play, quick pressure from Fletcher Cox forced Foles to roll to his left. The Super Bowl MVP kept his eyes downfield, and threw a pass across his body to a streaking Ertz in the back of the end zone as he crossed the field running to his right. It was a beautifully thrown pass between both Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, as the offense continued its success down near the goal line. So far through practice, this is the best I've seen the offense look all summer.

2. Mike Wallace Can Still Burn The Defense

On the first play from 11-on-11 action, Nick Foles dropped back off play-action and threw a beautiful pass right down the chute between the hashes to wide receiver Mike Wallace for a big play. The free agent acquisition from Baltimore played the ball perfectly in the air, tracking it mid-flight, and looking it in over his shoulder, completing the pass to the ground for the explosive reception against Mills. To top it off, Wallace got up and motioned to the fans with his arms outstretched, revving up the crowd in the south end zone.

3. Derek Barnett Will Not Be A One-Year Wonder

Defensive end Derek Barnett had a productive rookie season finishing with five sacks in the regular season then coming up with huge plays in the playoffs - strip-sack in NFC Championship Game and fumble recovery in the Super Bowl. He earned PFWA All-Rookie Team honors.

Barnett has been the starter at right defensive end all through Training Camp.'s Gil Brandt pegs Barnett as a player who will provide more after his first campaign:

Barnett, the 14th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, looks like a steady producer with a knack for being in the right place at the right time, whether he's rushing the passer or scooping up a loose ball. He should thrive with the addition of top-tier veteran Michael Bennett to the lineup; you'll be hearing Barnett's name plenty over the next few years.

4. Doug Pederson Happy For Jordan Hicks

Linebacker Jordan Hicks was on the field Thursday for the preseason opener against the Steelers. The last time he played in a game was the Week 7 win over Washington last year when he ruptured his Achilles after battling an ankle injury.

Head coach Doug Pederson was pleased with what he's seen from his middle linebacker.

"Watching him go through his - the surgery, the rehab and all his conditioning last season. He was in the building every single day last year. What he did this offseason to put him in a position to help our defense again, he saw what the team did and he's hungry to get back out on the football field.

"He was a little taken aback being able to be back on the field the other night. He was excited to be out there and be back with his teammates.

"Played really well. He's smart, intelligent; he runs well. There were really no signs of injury. Just keep knocking on wood things go well. Happy to see him back out on the team."

Get an up-close look at the ballcarriers in 2018 training camp.

5. Battle For Fourth RB Spot Intensifies

Rookie Josh Adams had 30 yards rushing, tying a game high. Wendell Smallwood posted 21 yards of his own.

The top three running backs are pretty clear-cut in Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Darren Sproles. If the Eagles keep a fourth, who will it be? Matt Jones and Donnel Pumphrey are also in the picture. Pumphrey missed the game with a lower-body injury and noted the challenge that lies ahead for the second-year back.

"It's hard. It's hard for young players, quite honestly in this league, to make rosters," he said.

6. An Added Tool For Carson Wentz?

A silver lining of Carson Wentz's rehab is the added strength he's developed in his lower body. It's resulted in faster throws.

"Velocity has been up, accuracy has been up. Those are the things he's been able to work on over the course of the year," Pederson said.

"He got better last year, obviously, in games. To me, it's all about eye placement, decision-making, accuracy, timing. It's all about the eyes and where you throw it and how you see it. That's one thing he's continued to get better at and work on. I do feel like now, because of the injury, he's focusing a little more on lower body strength. It's really correlated to velocity and overall speed of the throw."

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