If you were wondering if there was a shakeup at No. 2 quarterback, as many in the media speculated watching practice on Wednesday, Pederson made sure to remind everyone that the order remains the same – Carson Wentz, Nate Sudfeld, and then rookie second-round draft pick Jalen Hurts.
"Nate is our No. 2, and obviously Jalen is still learning," Pederson said. "Jalen, he's done some really good things for us. Again, like I mentioned, he's learning our system, and he's another one, one of our young players that's learning the game a little bit. He's got some athleticism. We've seen that in practice. But Nate has done a nice job for us, and Nate has come in and really done everything we've asked him to do from a backup position and really just moved the team and moved – when he's in there, executing the offense, and that's where he's at.
"We still have to put Nate in game-like situations, too, because again, he's one that needs that as a quarterback. We need that. And then we also need to put Jalen in those situations. Every position is being evaluated, obviously, but to answer your question, Nate is right now our No. 2." – Dave Spadaro
Searching for depth along the offensive line
We know that the starting offensive line looks like this, left to right – Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson. It looks good on paper. We all know that teams need more than five linemen to make it through a season, so one of the major themes of this Training Camp is finding more players to provide trusted depth and versatility. Matt Pryor appears to be the first man off the sideline, playing at both guard positions in this camp.
It's a good question, one that Doug Pederson was asked on Thursday morning, starting with rookie fourth-round draft pick Jack Driscoll: "Obviously he's working at tackle right now. He is a guy that we can move inside. He's got that position versatility for us. We're excited about him. We're also trying to – with Jason Peters and Pryor and Nate Herbig and some of these guys that are also playing those guard positions. It's a balance, right, and getting enough work for everybody. So right now, we've just kept him at tackle. There are some times where we have moved him inside, whether it be a walkthrough in the afternoon or whatever with the second group, even sometimes when we're rotating some of the threes in there. But yeah, we like his versatility of being able to play inside and outside."
On Thursday, the offensive line worked against two defensive linemen at a time as the D-linemen ran stunts and combos against the tackle-guard combination, with mixed results. Hassan Ridgeway bullrushed Herbig and put Herbig on his back. Shareef Miller and Joe Ostman ran a neat stunt against Driscoll and guard Julian Good-Jones. Vinny Curry and Malik Jackson beat Dillard and Seumalo on a stunt move. Working against this defensive line is going to make the offensive line better but remember this: It's impossible to make up for all of the lost reps from the spring reps that didn't happen. So, this is a bit of a work in progress. It's going to take some time to develop depth, one of the real challenges every team faces in this shortened on-field NFL season. – Spadaro
Running backs take their turn trying to impress
With Miles Sanders and Boston Scott watching from the sidelines in their practice jerseys, some other running backs are taking their turn getting into the rhythm of the offense. Corey Clement is taking the majority of the reps with the starting team, followed by Elijah Holyfield, Michael Warren, and Adrian Killins. It's a young group after Clement, but every rep is valuable. Holyfield has run hard and has shown an ability to catch the football out of the backfield, so he's going to be interesting to watch as the team nears the date of September 5, when all NFL teams must reduce the roster to 53 players. It's pretty amazing, right? Training Camp feels like it just started, when in reality we're only two weeks away from the rosters being reduced. – Spadaro
Jalen Reagor reminds me of ...
Wentz mentioned rookie Jalen Reagor in the same breath earlier this week with Atlanta All-Pro superstar wide receiver Julio Jones in terms of Reagor's ability to go up and get the football. Pederson didn't shy away from the comparison when asked about that on Thursday, but he did make sure that we all know it ... is ... still ... so ... early ... for ... Reagor.
"I think looking at Jalen, Jalen has a skill set that is very similar with speed, athleticism, size, and strength," Pederson said. "He's got, as Carson alluded to with the vertical ability and things that Julio can do, but by no means is Jalen there yet. He's got a lot to learn with the offense, with the game itself, just learning how to be a pro. But obviously being mentioned in that breath is a compliment, and it's something that Jalen can strive for, and it's a pretty good goal." – Spadaro
Fran Duffy's quick hits
1. The first action of the day was a one-on-one session, and I focused on the receivers against the defensive backs. Here are the takeaways:
• DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside both won their first matchups on slant routes against Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay, respectively. Jackson showed his burst in a short area to separate late on his route, while Arcega-Whiteside showed off his play strength, fighting through the jam from Slay on his way to the catch point.
• Nickell Robey-Coleman got the first win for the defense, getting a pass breakup against Greg Ward on an in-breaking route. That was Robey-Coleman's first of two breakups in the drill, as he got a hand on a ball intended for Jackson on a go route downfield, looking late to find the ball and get a finger on it for the incompletion. He had a similar play against D-Jax on a scramble drill late in practice about 40 yards downfield. Robey-Coleman has looked good in the first few days of practice.
• Rookie receiver John Hightower had a really good day today, and it started in this period. On his first rep against Rasul Douglas, Hightower got a nice release off the line of scrimmage, worked down the field, showing off his speed, then slammed on the breaks on a comeback route and was wide open. Carson Wentz put it right on the numbers. Later, Hightower would get a catch against Slay on an in-breaking route.
• Jalen Reagor would not be out-done on the other side of the field, as he ran right by the corner and brought in an underthrown ball on a go route for a big play downfield.
• Jalen Mills showed off his chops in the slot, matching up with Greg Ward late in the drill. Ward tried to win with a double move, but Mills got in position and tightly contested the throw, which fell incomplete. It was good recovery from Mills on the play, forcing the drop.
• After that drill ended, the two groups went to the sideline to practice their press coverage technique, as the receivers worked to beat the jam. The best rep that I saw came from Arcega-Whiteside, who blew by a jam from Robey-Coleman and worked clean upfield on one rep.
2. In the first full team period of the day, the defense worked in a bunch of different pressure packages, but that did not appear to affect Wentz, who looked sharp early. The quarterback completed a shallow cross to tight end Joshua Perkins (working with the first unit in place of Dallas Goedert), hit Arcega-Whiteside right on the numbers on a dig route, and then found Reagor on a slant route to get things going. Nate Sudfeld and Jalen Hurts didn't have the same level of success. Vinny Curry, Hassan Ridgeway, and Nate Gerry all got home for "sacks" once Wentz got to the sideline. Rookie defensive back Elijah Riley also stepped in front of a pass and took it the other way for six points.
3. Wentz and Jackson connected on a big play in a later team period, with Wentz dropping back off play-action and finding Jackson down the left side for a long catch-and-run. Overall, I thought Wentz had another good day. In the 7-on-7 period, he kicked things off with a tight completion to Ward on a crossing route. He also made a ridiculously athletic throw to Arcega-Whiteside late in practice. He had just been "sacked" on the play, but Wentz leapt up in the air, flicked his wrist, and stuck a pass to the second-year receiver for a completion in the middle of the field. On the very next play, Wentz stuck a throw into a tight window to Reagor in the middle of the field. It was a great grab by Reagor with his hands, but Wentz stuck it in a tight space and put it right on his target on the run.
4. I mentioned Hightower above, and he really did have a nice day. After that productive one-on-one period, the Boise State product had a diving catch in the middle of the field a couple of periods later from Nate Sudfeld. In the 7-on-7 period, he caught a huge deep ball from Jalen Hurts over the shoulder about 50 yards downfield on a double move.
5. Two defensive linemen who continue to impress me as the week goes on are Shareef Miller and Hassan Ridgeway. Ridgeway had a strong day on Tuesday, replacing Malik Jackson in the lineup during the veteran's off day. He's active with his hands, shows quickness off the ball, and had a couple of "sacks" today in team periods. Miller, the second-year defensive end from Penn State, has showed up every day in run periods, making stops that garner screams of encouragement from teammates and coaches alike. He got a sack of Carson Wentz on the final team period of the morning as well on Thursday.
6. Rookie safety K'Von Wallace continues to flash. He had a diving pass breakup against Perkins in the opening team period. He got another similar play in the 7-on-7 period, matched up on a running back out of the backfield. Wallace wasn't the only rookie defender to make a diving play on defense, as Davion Taylor was in an all-out sprint against Adrian Killins and got himself a pass breakup deep downfield on an impressive athletic play.