Tuesday marked the final practice ahead of Thursday's preseason opener in Green Bay. Head coach Doug Pederson ran a lighter 10-10-10 session, but there were still plenty of practice notes.
Number Of The Day: 58.5
Defensive end Chris Long ranks sixth among all NFL defensive ends since 2008 with 58.5 sacks.
1. The first-team offense took the field and got off to a quick start with wide receiver Nelson Agholor racing down the right sideline on the first play and tight end Zach Ertz catching a quick pop pass from quarterback Carson Wentz over the middle of the field. Wentz looked sharp on Tuesday, the team’s final practice before Thursday’s first preseason game. He hit wide receiver Torrey Smith right on the numbers on the team’s third play, beating a blitz from slot corner Aaron Grymes right in his face. Wentz finished the period with three straight completions - one to Darren Sproles in the flat, one to Smith on a deep crossing route, and another to Agholor off play-action on a slant route.
2. Defensively, the standout from the second unit was rookie corner Rasul Douglas, who forced Wentz to check the ball down to Sproles thanks to his coverage on a vertical route downfield. Douglas helped create an incompletion on the next play, stepping in front of a pass intended for tight end Brent Celek.
3. The other big takeaway, perhaps from the entire practice, was Agholor’s usage on the outside with Jordan Matthews in the slot. Plenty has been made this week of who would line up inside or outside in this receiving corps, but the Eagles have proved that they are very multiple on offense with a bevy of different formations and personnel groupings. With his physical skill set, Agholor is absolutely capable of lining up both inside and outside, and we saw plenty of the latter on Tuesday.
With just two days until their first preseason game, the Eagles have been hard at work...
4. The first-team defense took the field, and it was Jalen Mills who made the play of the period. The offense lined up in a heavy set with three tight ends, but the play resulted in a deep vertical shot to rookie receiver Shelton Gibson down the post. Mills got hip-to-hip with Gibson and high-pointed the football downfield for a big-time interception. It was eerily similar to the play Mills made at the pylon against Smith in Sunday’s Open Practice. Mills also was in tight coverage on a throw to the flat earlier in the period.
5. In another three-tight end set, rookie Derek Barnett flew into the backfield to help disrupt one running play. Fellow rookie Nathan Gerry helped eat up a screen pass in the backfield. The offensive highlight came from Ertz, who made a diving catch with one-hand that drew a huge reaction from the Eagles' sideline.
6. After a special teams period, the first-team offense jumped back onto the field. After getting targeted in the screen game on the first play, LeGarrette Blount busted a long run inside on the second rep. Gerry was there quickly on what looked like a blitz from the second level, but the physically imposing Blount looks pretty impressive when he hits full speed in between the tackles. On the next play, Matthews caught a screen in the slot and raced down the right side. Lane Johnson also showed off his athleticism on the play, releasing downfield to block in the screen game. Wentz followed that play up with consecutive completions to Smith and Agholor before hitting Bryce Treggs deep downfield on a post route. The second-year speedster dove to the ground to secure the catch. Rookie Mack Hollins caught a deep in-breaking route, securing the pass away from his frame, flashing his strong hands. Wentz completed passes to Burton and again to Agholor to end the practice.
7. The defense worked down in the red zone on their second practice period with the first unit. Jordan Hicks broke up a pass intended for a tight end over the middle of the field. Mills picked up a pass breakup on a slant route where he broke on the throw early and got the ball on the ground. Jaylen Watkins notched a breakup as well, dropping into a throwing lane and finding his way to the football.
8. The offense came back onto the field for their final session of the morning, and Wentz started on fire. First, he hit Agholor (who lined up outside), on a dig route in the middle of the field before completing a pass to Ertz on the right side. Two Blount runs later, and Wentz hit Agholor again right on the numbers before connecting with rookie Mack Hollins on a shallow crossing route from the back side. Wentz completed two of his final three passes, to Treggs and Greg Ward, respectively, to put a ribbon on a strong day of work at the NovaCare Complex.
9. The starting defensive unit came back to the field to close practice and worked on a variety of zone coverages. Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Rasul Douglas and C.J. Smith all flashed in coverage, meeting their receivers at the catch point for "tackles." Up front, the defensive line created constant pressure for quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Dane Evans during the 10-play session. Brandon Graham came free on the first play, and Vinny Curry collapsed the pocket with a strong bull rush on the second snap. Chris Long came free for a sack as well. Needless to say, it will be exciting to see that group cut things loose on Thursday night.