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Morning Roundup: The Coaches Weigh In

Good morning, Eagles fans! The last public practice at Lincoln Financial Field kicks off at 10 a.m. this morning. We'll have head coach Doug Pederson's press conference beginning at 9:45 live here on PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the app following by the action from the Linc. On Friday, the assistant coaches met with the media. Today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft looks at the big questions that the coaching staff is looking to answer.

1. Press Taylor: Carson Wentz's Progress Has Been 'Very Encouraging'

Quarterback Carson Wentz participated in team drills early in Training Camp but has been limited to 7-on-7 work to be in a controlled environment. Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor echoed what head coach Doug Pederson said about Wentz's progression from his knee injury.

"It was very encouraging. There was no hesitation in the way he was playing then. And that was very encouraging for us. Coach (Pederson) felt like he saw everything he needed to see, but Carson handles everything great," Taylor said. "There's a great energy when Carson is in the huddle. Guys really respond to him well. He sees things really well and communicates at the line of scrimmage really well with those guys."

Taylor said he's been impressed by how Wentz approaches the 7-on-7 work.

"It's a great process of just having the mental toughness and discipline to treat 7-on-7, every single rep as the most important rep of the day. He's really dialed in there," Taylor said. "He's done a great job with keeping his rhythm, his timing, going through progressions, throwing the ball with accuracy. It's been fun to see the approach the few reps he's gotten in each day.

"He's an ultracompetitive guy. You guys know that just from talking to him and the way he plays. He wants to take every single rep. Right now, we're focused on protecting him, taking care of him. He understands what's going on."

If you recall, Wentz played in just 39 snaps as a rookie in the preseason opener before suffering a rib injury. - Chris McPherson

2. Plenty Of Room For Dallas Goedert To Improve

Tight ends coach Justin Peelle spoke to Dallas Goedert’s abilities and his role in the Eagles’ offense after the rookie tight end’s impressive debut Thursday night. Goedert, the top tight end in the first half with Zach Ertz sitting out, compiled four receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown while also making key blocks in the running game.

“I think the biggest thing was just getting him out there and playing on an NFL field,” Peelle said. “The ball obviously came his way a few times and he was able to make some plays but I just wanted him to get out on the field and play some ball.”

Peelle said Goedert’s ability to catch the ball and use his size to shield defenders has allowed him to stand out especially in the red zone so far in Training Camp. But despite a positive showing in the first game, Peelle didn’t hesitate to say what Goedert can improve upon this week.

“Everything,” Peelle said. “He did a nice job but there’s always room for improvement. You’re always going to try and get better, that’s what the good ones do, but there are little things here and there, route running and in-blocking that he can improve on and he will and that’s just part of the process.” - Graham Foley

3. Ken Flajole On LB Battle: 'I Wouldn’t Put Anything In Stone'

Nathan Gerry started on Thursday at the WILL position against Pittsburgh, but don’t take it to mean that Gerry is the odds-on favorite to win the job. The fact is, says linebackers coach Ken Flajole, the competition is very open.

“I wouldn’t put anything in stone right now,” Flajole said. “This competition and this camp is long. Nate got the nod in terms of reps, but it’s still wide open right now. You know what, the next week we might put someone else in as our base starting WILL linebacker. We’ve got a lot of Training Camp left. We try to spread the reps out.”

Flajole speaks highly of the group’s depth, and he’s extremely pleased that starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, on the field for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon in Week 7 of 2017, moved well, knocked off some rust, and came through unscathed.

“It’s great to have Jordan back,” Flajole said. “He’s worked extremely hard to recover and he looks good out there.” - Dave Spadaro

4. Cory Undlin Offers High Praise For Ronald Darby

Incumbent starting outside cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills have held on to their jobs and both have played extremely well this summer. Darby, acquired a year ago in a trade with Buffalo, has taken a very significant step forward now that he understands the scheme and is all the way healthy after that gruesome ankle injury suffered in Week 1 against Washington.

“It took him a little while to get in his groove, and then when you get hurt 16 plays into your first game, then you’re not out there again,” defensive backs coach Cory Undlin said. “By the time we got to the Super Bowl and got done with that game, I think he was like, ‘Alright, I think I’m feeling comfortable here.’ And then you go through the whole offseason, I think he was a completely different mindset ... everything. Way more comfortable. Kind of found his groove in the group, not so much on the field, I’m talking about with those guys in the locker room, and not just the DBs, the whole thing.

“So I’ve really liked him all through OTAs and I’ve liked him so far through Training Camp. I really like where he’s at.”

Undlin said that both Darby and Mills are in solid positions as starters, and that the nickel cornerback job is still very much a competition with Sidney Jones, De’Vante Bausby, and rookie Avonte Maddox battling for an edge. - Dave Spadaro

5. Dave Fipp Updates Punter, Returner Competitions

Cameron Johnston's 81-yard punt Thursday night was negated by a penalty, but still finished with a gross average of 45.8 yards and a net average of 43.8 on six punts.

Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp knows how strong Johnston's leg is, it's just a matter of consistency.

"Consistency is the number one thing," Fipp said. "It's whether or not you get through it with him and then those guys turn into really good players. I would say the encouraging thing for him is he's shown excellent leg time. He's hit a number of 70-plus-yard balls here in practice. He's hit a number of 60-plus-yard balls, one of them (Thursday) night.

"And that's hard to get anybody to do and do it with good hangtime. He's done that so he's shown definitely that he's got a huge upside. It's just whether he can be consistent enough that you can live with it."

From a returner standpoint, Shelton Gibson and Rashard Davis handled kickoffs, and Davis and Corey Clement did punts. With the new kickoff return rules, Fipp is still figuring out who will be the kickoff returner. He believes it will still be a close enough play to previous years that he won't put Darren Sproles in that spot. Sproles is slated to be the punt returner. Nelson Agholor also likely won't be involved as a returner because of his role on offense. Clement was utilized as a returner in the game, but he's only going to be called upon in an emergency situation. - Chris McPherson

6. Duce Staley: Corey Clement Is Hungry

Assistant head coach/running backs Duce Staley loves the way that second-year running back Duce Staley has attacked the offseason after such a promising rookie year that ended with a 100-yard receiving performance in the Super Bowl.

"He's hungry. He's hungry. I had a chance to have that conversation with him this offseason with just how the mentality I wanted him to have coming back. We talked about that. We talked about where I thought he should be this year," Staley said.

"He has to understand that he's going to be called on a lot more and that's what we're doing. I said he's a Swiss army knife. You saw him the other night catching punts. He's able to do that if we need an emergency punt returner. He's able to go out there and do that. You saw him the other night breaking runs.

"We know he can run in between the tackles and we know he can catch, you saw him the other night catch a pass on third down. He was able to make a guy miss and get the first down. When you look at Corey and his body of work in two short years, it's been a lot. I'm excited about him. We're lucky to have him and I look forward to seeing how good he is as we continue to move on in the future."

Staley explained where Clement has made the most improvement.

"Just protections, alone. Because our system is difficult, you just don't learn it in one week. Sometimes it takes years for people to learn exactly what we do when it comes to our offense," Staley said. "The most important thing we do around here is protect the quarterback. I take pride in that. I took pride in that when I played. I also take pride in that now coaching these guys. They understand they cannot get on the field unless they protect the quarterback." - Chris McPherson

7. Chris Wilson: Michael Bennett Impresses On, Off The Field

The first time this season – well, actually, it was the offseason – that defensive line coach Chris Wilson met the media for the scheduled assistant coaches’ availability it was prior to the team’s mandatory June minicamp, which meant that newcomer Michael Bennett hadn’t been around a whole lot for the voluntary portion of the workouts. Now that Bennett has been here through Training Camp, Wilson has a better feel for what Bennett brings to the table.

And Wilson is excited about the possibilities.

“He had a good game (against Pittsburgh in the preseason opener), played about 12 snaps for us, graded out pretty well,” Wilson said. “Obviously he’s physical, still has the ability to rush, so I am pleased. It’s still early in camp and you’re training some new fundamentals and new techniques, but overall he’s been really good.

“I think he’s enjoying the fresh start. He’s great in meetings, he’s great on the sidelines, he’s a good teacher with the guys. Great listener, understands his adjustments, and then when he was done he was great with the young guys.”

Both Bennett and tackle Haloti Ngata are expected to add some veteran experience, players that Wilson says add the “Whys” to the defensive concept. Said Wilson of Ngata: “He’s great at the point of contact, he’s been really physical in the run blocks. Obviously, it’s like anything, he’s been at a couple of places so you’re still trying to clean up the language, try to teach a few details with regards on how we do things at the Philadelphia Eagles, but overall he’s been a great leader, too.” - Dave Spadaro

8. Jeff Stoutland Says Jason Peters' Comeback Has Been 'Amazing'

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland commended several veterans for their play and leadership so far in Training Camp, but was especially complimentary of Jason Peters’ performance. The six-time All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle is coming back from a torn ACL he suffered last season in Week 7 against Washington.

Stoutland said that he was in awe of Peters’ talent and his ability to constantly teach younger players.

“He’s always been that way since the day that I met him,” Stoutland said. “He’s a coach on the field. He’s got great instincts. He can tell me right now what you’re thinking. Before some defender makes some type of move on him, he already kind of knows. It’s weird. I can’t even teach that. I don’t know how to teach that.”

Going into his 15th season in the NFL, Peters has incredible knowledge that he has been able to pass along to the Eagles’ rookie offensive linemen. He was a vocal mentor Thursday night for offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, the former Australian rugby player and Eagles seventh-round pick in 2018 who was playing in his first live football game ever.

“He’s another one who totally believes what we’re doing and helps with the younger players,” Stoutland said. “I saw him out there with Jordan after every series -even during every series, yelling to Jordan. As soon as he identified something that he wasn’t doing properly, I heard him, ‘Jordan!’ giving him a code word and then Jordan is like, ‘I got it.’

“He’s amazing. I don’t know how many other people in the world could recover like him and do this for this long with some of the injuries he’s had. I don't know how to explain it but I’m so happy he’s back and doing some really good things.” - Graham Foley

9. For Tim Hauck, Corey Graham Brings Even More Experience To DB Room

When safeties coach Tim Hauck met with the media on Friday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex, it came a day after the first-team defense shined in the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers with safety Malcolm Jenkins delivering a punishing sack along with linebacker Nigel Bradham on the second drive of the game.

Talent in the starting safeties this season will be a strength for the Eagles with Jenkins and Rodney McLeod having 15 years of combined experience entering 2018.

“It’s awesome,” Hauck said. “They’ve worked with each other for three years. Communication is almost more of a look than anything. They don't have to go through the motions, they know what each other is going to do by snap, by formation, by motion, it’s almost getting to the point where it’s automatic between those two and getting everyone lined up is not an issue.”

And now the Eagles can add Corey Graham to that equation after he signed a one-year deal last Sunday. The veteran safety who was an intrical part of last year’s Super Bowl run adds 11 years of experience to that group.

For young players like Tre Sullivan, who played on the practice squad in his rookie season last year, as well as rookies Jeremy Reaves and Stephen Roberts, that amount of experience in the safety room is a privilege that not many young players get to have.

“With Malcolm, Rodney, and Corey, having three guys like that in your room to look up to for Tre and Steve and Jeremy, just to look at that example and watch them perform and play and even more so, prepare, it’s invaluable to them,” Hauck said. “They’ve got three great teachers right there in the room.” - Graham Foley

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