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Practice Notes: DeSean Jackson takes flight

The players kicked off the first full week of Training Camp with a padded practice Monday at the NovaCare Complex. Fran Duffy, Ben Fennell, and Chris McPherson offer 20 takeaways from the session.

1. After stretch and a kickoff return period to get things going at practice, the team split off into groups for individual position drills. I stayed on the sideline closest to the wide receivers and studied the group led by coach Carson Walch. After working on some screen passes, Walch had the group run through chutes, forcing players to mind their pad level both at the beginning of the route (to create a smaller target for a press corner to strike) and at the top of the route (to create more efficient movement going in and out of the break).

Afterward, the group worked on using their hands to swat down the hands of defenders on vertical routes, catching passes over their shoulder. Multiple fans around me marveled at the ease in which Alshon Jeffery reeled in passes with one hand in this drill. Jeffery put those hands on display on the very first play of team period just minutes later, plucking a pass from the grass on his way to the ground over the middle of the field. – Fran Duffy

2. There was an odd silence during the individual periods early in practice. There was no music playing. Finally, 50 Cent's Wanksta briefly came on the speakers and cut out. After a few more minutes, the music came back for good. Maybe the heat and humidity, the temperatures were in the low 90s, are affected the sound system. – Chris McPherson

3. New cornerback Orlando Scandrick is wearing No. 45 (if he makes the team there is no doubt in my mind that number is getting swapped out, and that has nothing to do with it being Rick Lovato's digits). He spent extra time getting his footwork down during individual drills. Good thing because he was thrown right into the mix with the second-team defense at slot cornerback. – C-Mac

4. A couple of plays into the first team period, Carson Wentz brought DeSean Jackson in motion and threw him a screen pass to the left side. Jackson exploded upfield for a huge chunk and likely would have taken it for a touchdown, but who helped spring him loose? It was Jason Peters, who got a nice block at the second level. The athleticism of the Eagles' offensive tackles was put on full display today. Peters, Lane Johnson, Andre Dillard, and Jordan Mailata all showed off their ability to pull and play out in space, whether it was via screen plays or the power run game in the trenches. Using the athleticism of these big guys is a priority for this coaching staff. – Ben Fennell

5. On Wentz's last throw of the session, he tried to hit Jordan Howard on a route down the right sideline that went incomplete. It appeared the two were not on the same page, and the two talked it out. From body language, it appeared Wentz wanted the veteran back to throttle the route down in the soft spots of zone coverage. As we talked about on Saturday's Eagle Eye in the Sky podcast recapping practice, Wentz is heavily invested in speaking with all of the skill players on offense between reps, talking things through immediately on the field. – Fran

6. The second-string unit took the field, and the secondary came up with some big plays against Nate Sudfeld. After the rush got home on the first rep, forcing a late throw, Deiondre' Hall picked off a tipped pass that got the defense fired up on the sideline. A couple of plays later, Tre Sullivan broke up a pass along the sideline, leaping in the air to break up the throw. – Fran

7. Doug Pederson and Mike Groh do an excellent job of using the versatility of their skilled players. There aren't true slot or outside receivers, rather you'll see guys like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, DeSean Jackson, and Nelson Agholor line up all over the field. The playbook may not be the largest in the NFL, but the different formations and personnel groupings within those plays are what makes this offense so tough to defend. – Ben

8. Each day at practice, I take stock of the jerseys that the fans are wearing. Peter King noted in his Football Morning in America column Monday that he saw 43 Carson Wentz jerseys at Saturday's practice. But on Monday, I witnessed a bedazzled Wentz jersey for the shine (hat tip to Chance the Rapper's lyric on his new song We Go High). I also love when fans go outside the box in an attempt to be ahead of the curve. One fan had a custom Dallas Goedert jersey. – C-Mac

9. Next, the team split up with the lines going to practice on the middle field, leaving the pass catchers to run through two- and three-man route concepts on the near field. I watched the running backs and tight ends match up against linebackers and safeties in the end zone. The first snap that stood out to me pitted Darren Sproles against Kamu Grugier-Hill. The third-year linebacker had the veteran running back tightly covered, but Sproles ran a great route and got free for a catch in the middle of the field from Nate Sudfeld, who dropped a couple of dimes in this period. First, he hit Carlton Agudosi on a corner route where the young receiver toe-tapped along the sideline for a big play, much to the pleasure of fans on that side of the field. On the next rep, he dropped a tear in a bucket to Donnel Pumphrey on a wheel route down the field. – Fran

10. While Fran watched the backs and tight ends, I stayed on the opposite side of the field for receivers matched up with defensive backs. On the first play, Rasul Douglas once again stood out in a play against Alshon Jeffery, grabbing an interception down the field to start the period. Douglas ran vertically with Jeffery on a post route and made a nice play on the ball that was thrown slightly high and outside of Jeffrey's reach. Douglas had several pass breakups on Monday and previously had an interception in Saturday's practice against Alshon. – Ben

11. Rookie Clayton Thorson darted a beautiful laser in between two defenders along the left sideline on a completion to wide receiver Marken Michel.

"Clayton is improving every day," head coach Doug Pederson said. "He's getting a little bit better. He's seeing the field a little bit better, making some nice throws, anticipatory-type throws, throwing things on time, rhythm, things that we teach our quarterbacks. Just showing improvement every day." – C-Mac

12. The team reconvened for some 11-on-11 action, and this was a period dominated by the front seven in the run game. First, Malik Jackson and Kamu Grugier-Hill combined for a stop right at the line of scrimmage. Brandon Graham exploded into the backfield for a tackle for loss. Zach Brown got a stop of his own behind the line of scrimmage a couple of snaps later. Treyvon Hester fired into the backfield for one, and T.J. Edwards created a car wreck at the line of scrimmage seconds later. The two best offensive plays from the period? Carson Wentz threading the needle between multiple defenders to Nelson Agholor on a crossing route, and Boston Scott taking a long run and lowering the shoulder into safety Trae Elston down the field. – Fran

13. Anytime Tim Jernigan dances, you know it's a good day at practice. Jernigan and Curry blew up the line of scrimmage to stop Howard in the backfield before he could garner any momentum. – C-Mac

14. For the second practice in a row, I turned my attention to the O-line vs. D-line 1-on-1s when the team split up. The heavyweight showdown was the first battle as Brandon Graham squared off against Lane Johnson. The All-Pro tackle was outstanding in shedding Graham's hands and not allowing the edge rusher to get into his body. Other highlights: Josh Sweat displayed a nice rip move as the development of his pass-rush toolkit is as important as his physical maturation. Jordan Mailata moved back to left tackle for a rep against Daeshon Hall. The edge rusher faked to the outside and went in, leaving Mailata frozen. Mailata got another chance and stoned Hall. Mailata has been at right tackle all spring, so I wonder if it took a moment to gather himself going back to the left side. Halapoulivaati Vaitai did a nice job shocking Jernigan with his hand punch on a rep. – C-Mac

15. A 7-on-7 period was up next, and the second snap may have been my favorite play of the day. DeSean Jackson lined up in the slot and ran a deep corner route. Wentz hit him perfectly in stride about 40 yards downfield, perfectly placing the football over the defender, only where DeSean could get it. It was the first huge hookup of the day for those two, and as DeSean sprinted to the sideline, he ran through a crowd of fans. One fan, in particular, was there to greet him. I had the pleasure of watching a chunk of practice alongside Ethan, who wowed me with his knowledge of both the team and the players. As he called out formations and tried predicting playcalls and who would get the ball, I couldn't help but compliment both he and his father, Jeff. Watching DeSean come off the field after a huge play and high-five Ethan was probably my favorite moment of the morning. – Fran

16. A couple of plays later, Wentz threw an absolute strike in the middle of the field to Greg Ward on a crossing route, hitting him right in the numbers for a big play. The most upset player on the field? Grugier-Hill. Traditional camp battles are usually between receivers and defensive backs or offensive and defensive linemen, but this cat-and-mouse battle between Wentz and Kamu has been entertaining so far in camp. Grugier-Hill had the highlight play against Wentz on Saturday, as he read the quarterback's eyes and plucked a ball over the middle of the field in a 7-on-7 period for an interception, but today Wentz had the upper hand for most of the practice. Wentz made several eye-popping throws between the linebackers today, drawing some animated frustrations from the defense, and that rip to Ward was a great example of that. – Ben

17. Scandrick made several plays in coverage, including a pass breakup on a shallow crossing route in that 7-on-7 session against Ward. – Ben

18. One final team session gets underway, and Wentz completes all three passes he attempts. First, he hits Alshon Jeffery for a short completion on a slant route. After a Jordan Howard run for a chunk play, he hits DeSean Jackson for a big play down the right sideline on a fade route against zone coverage. Wentz dropped the throw away from the safety over the top, where only D-Jax could get it. – Fran

19. It should be noted that Grugier-Hill did get a "sack" of Wentz on a blitz up the middle, keeping him from throwing the ball. – C-Mac

20. It was great to see Wentz and Jackson ironing out the chemistry today. You had that deep corner route earlier, that fade late in the day, but perhaps the most impressive route was a comeback route against tight man coverage from earlier in the day. This was a route that they struggled to connect on up to this point in Training Camp, as the comeback route is a precise timing throw that requires anticipation and timing on both ends, but on Monday they completed it perfectly outside the numbers for a big gain. – Ben

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