Philadelphia Eagles News

Practice Notes: 15 highlights as the Eagles prepare for the preseason opener

Tuesday marked the final full practice ahead of Thursday's preseason opener against the Tennessee Titans. The Eagles were on the field for a little less than an hour and 45 minutes on Tuesday morning. Fran Duffy and Ben Fennell provided the big-picture takeaways featuring a lot of wins for the Eagles' defense.

1. Individual periods are underway, and Ben and I watch the defensive backs. I'm not sure if this is the first day, but it's the first time I've noticed that cornerback Ronald Darby is practicing without the knee brace. No word yet on when Darby will be a full participant in practice, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. – Fran Duffy

2. My eyes go to the linebacker position as team drills begin. Today, Zach Brown opened as the second linebacker alongside Nate Gerry in the nickel package, but he and L.J. Fort swapped that role seemingly every team period. – Fran

3. Miles Sanders picked up a nice gain on the second play of the first session, but assistant head coach/running backs Duce Staley still had an urgent coaching point for the rookie after the play, screaming for Sanders to "go" through the hole. The second-round pick has flashed here this summer but there's always room to get better. Staley took that moment and made it a teaching point for Sanders. – Ben Fennell

4. Jordan Howard picked up what appeared to be a pretty good chunk of yardage with an inside run against the blitz. The veteran got through the hole seemingly untouched and got up to the second level with a backside cut. – Fran

5. The biggest hookup of the day on offense came on the fifth play of the first period. Quarterback Carson Wentz dropped back and unleashed a bomb down the field on a deep post to DeSean Jackson, who was working outside against Rasul Douglas. The throw hit Jackson in stride for a touchdown from around midfield. – Fran

6. Cornerback Josh Hawkins had himself a nice little day. The veteran corner, who is now on his third NFL team after joining the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2016, broke up three passes in team periods as an outside cornerback. Hawkins has been one of the most competitive corners in Training Camp and looks most comfortable when he's able to keep everything in front of him. – Ben

7. One consistent theme that popped up in this drill (and throughout the day for that matter)? Running backs in pass pro. Corey Clement threw a nice block on a Nate Sudfeld pass halfway through the first session. I later saw a nice block from Donnel Pumphrey in the backfield on the last throw in the same period by Clayton Thorson. – Fran

8. In the next period, the offense struggled to get anything going in the run game. Josh Sweat wrapped up Clement on one play. Douglas met Darren Sproles at the line of scrimmage on another. Bruce Hector got into the backfield on a perimeter run by Pumphrey. The only play on offense that drew any reaction from the crowd came on the first snap, where Wentz threw a quick slant to Jackson and D-Jax showed a little juke at the end on the corner. – Fran

9. I praised offensive lineman Matt Pryor for his versatility on Monday, as the second-year player took reps at both right guard and left tackle. Well, today I've got the same praise, except Pryor lined up at left guard and right tackle. That's four positions in two days for Pryor, for those who aren't mathematically inclined. – Ben

10. Defensive success continues to the next period. Sweat gets a "sack" against Nate Sudfeld, tagging the quarterback on his throwing shoulder after beating Andre Dillard around the corner. Orlando Scandrick nearly picks off Sudfeld two plays later, going up with one hand as an underneath zone defender and nearly coming down with the turnover. Newly signed defensive end Kasim Edebali exploded into the backfield and got home to Cody Kessler. This period featured only the second- and third-team units, but it was not a sharp performance from the offense. – Fran

11. Sudfeld threw a nice ball to Greg Ward in the middle of the field, threading the needle in a tight window, but the ball was dropped. Scandrick and Fort were in tight coverage, but Sudfeld pulled the trigger on time and got the ball where it needed to be. – Ben

12. The offense responded with a more efficient 7-on-7 period, starting with a couple of excellent catches by the receivers. First, Wentz squeezed in a throw to Alshon Jeffery on a tightly contested play by Sidney Jones, who appeared to get a fingertip on the ball and knock it toward the ground, but Jeffery dove and pulled it off the grass for the completion, much to the chagrin of the young corner. On the next play, Wentz started to his right with his eyes on Zach Ertz but came back to his left and rifled a throw to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on an in-breaking route. The rookie second-round pick dove to the ground and made the play over the middle of the field. Carson rounded out the sequence with short completions to Dallas Goedert and Darren Sproles. – Fran

13. Mack Hollins returned to practice on Tuesday, catching a dig route from Sudfeld in that session. Hollins had missed the last few sessions due to a lower-body injury, and it was good to see him back on the field. – Fran

14. Greg Ward's big play of the day came on the receiving end of a Thorson deep ball. The rookie lofted it downfield on a deep post route from Ward, who beat the corner in coverage and came down with the catch for a touchdown. – Fran

15. The team held a brief "scrimmage" to close practice, and the defense owned this period. The starters forced a three-and-out to get things going. Treyvon Hester forced a "sack" against the second-team offense on a play that Sudfeld ended up chucking downfield for a Johnathan Cyprien interception before the defense got off the field with a Blake Countess pass breakup. The third-team defense forced another three-and-out. Rodney McLeod intercepted Wentz to send the first-team offense off the field in their second, and final, set of downs for the morning. The second-teamers forced yet another three-and-out, and then Thorson appeared to get a drive going with the third-stringers with a pretty ball down the seam to DeAndre Thompkins before the defense stopped them in their territory. Needless to say, Jim Schwartz's unit had to be happy heading into the locker room after the way they ended practice. – Fran

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