Philadelphia Eagles News

Practice Notes: Fletcher Cox's Dominance Among Sunday's Highlights

  • Fran Duffy and Chris McPherson offer these 18 nuggets from Sunday's action at the NovaCare Complex.

1. The Eagles took the field for the fourth day of practice, and they were met with the best weather so far by a long shot. Overcast skies led to much less humidity than we've seen all week, so it was a great start for all involved. – Fran Duffy

2. After stretching, the first session on Sunday morning was a special teams period that started with the field goal and field goal block units before transitioning into a kickoff period. Jake Elliott booted a handful of kicks through the uprights, but it wasn't the accuracy that stood out to me. The second-year kicker kicked four footballs up onto the roof of the NovaCare Complex, leaving some of the young equipment managers in a bit of a panic. They were almost out of footballs! One of the managers ended up running up to the roof to get the runaways, avoiding what would have been a sure crisis. It's been a busy summer for Elliott, who nearly broke a camera with a field goal attempt earlier in camp after hitting it head-on with a kick on Friday. – Fran

3. Special teams drills ended and each position group split up for individual drills. I watched the wide receivers dart around flags and make catches on the run, and I began to think about how interesting the battle will be for the fifth (and potentially final) roster spot on the depth chart this summer. Shelton Gibson is explosive, is getting first-team reps on some special teams units, and had his best day on Sunday as a receiver. Fellow second-year man Greg Ward got some first-team reps in the spring, and he has the quickness and toughness to be effective in the slot. Veterans Markus Wheaton and Kamar Aiken have been in the league for a while and can certainly provide this team with quality reps. Rashard Davis has had his share of bright spots through four days, and his potential impact as a return specialist shouldn't be unnoticed. There are plenty of other options competing for a spot as well, making this one of my favorite positions to watch over the next few weeks. – Fran

4. After an install period, the offense and defense came together for the first 11-on-11 action of the morning. Chance Warmack saw first-team reps at right guard while Brandon Brooks missed practice with an illness, but after an early false start penalty he came out in favor of rookie Matt Pryor (Warmack got the first-team reps for the rest of the day). The most notable personnel notes came from the secondary, however, where young veteran corner De'Vante Bausby lined up with the first-team nickel defense (through four days of practice, Bausby and Sidney Jones have split the first-team reps in that role), while cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby flipped sides. Mills began the day at right cornerback with Darby at left corner. We haven't seen those two in those specific roles since Darby's Week 1 injury last season. – Fran

5. Nick Foles got his five reps in before giving way to Nate Sudfeld, who has shined through the first three days. The first few plays were not kind to him, however. All three of his pass attempts were knocked down by defenders. First, linebacker Nathan Gerry dropped back into zone coverage and dove in front of a pass intended for Wheaton. It was a very athletic play by the former college safety. On the next play, Jones broke up a slant route intended for Aiken. Lastly, Josh Sweat batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage. Sudfeld would be back for vengeance later on in the day. – Fran

6. The team session ended and the linemen went to work on individual drills. This allowed the pass-catchers and back seven defenders to split into two separate groups on two fields. I stayed at the middle field, where quarterbacks threw to a pair of receivers matched up against two defenders; mainly running backs and tight ends matched on safeties and linebackers. The offensive side got the better of this drill. Nick Foles hit two straight passes, first to Zach Ertz on a double move followed by Darren Sproles beating Gerry on a wheel route down the right sideline. Mack Hollins made a couple of nice grabs in this session, as did fellow second-year man Billy Brown at the tight end position. Dallas Goedert made a pair of catches as well in the intermediate area of the field. The lone defensive player who stood out in this drill was Nigel Bradham, who had rookie Josh Adams covered step for step on a vertical route down the field. – Fran

7. With Fran watching the tight ends and running backs, I traveled to the far field to watch as the team worked on a "slot-trips" drill that featured a quarterback and three pass-catchers going against five defenders. This gives the defense a chance to go over the responsibilities when an offense utilizes rub routes and picks. Sudfeld threaded a nice ball in between a trio of defenders that was caught by Wheaton. Overall, I liked Sudfeld's anticipation of knowing when to throw the ball even if the receiver wasn't open. – Chris McPherson

  • On back-to-back snaps, rookie corner Avonte Maddox should have come up with an interception. First, Maddox read a pass intended for Aiken, broke on the ball, but couldn't bring it in. Then, Maddox tipped a catchable ball into the air and it happened to fall into the arms of Nelson Agholor, who was laying on the ground. Maddox went to the sideline and did push-ups to pay for missing the two picks.
  • Agholor continued his strong camp with a touchdown off a deep throw down the middle from Carson Wentz, beating Malcolm Jenkins in coverage.

8. One-on-one drills begin with the wide receivers and defensive backs on the far field. Here are my notes from the session. – Chris

  • The tone was set by the defense from the jump. Wentz was in at quarterback with Wheaton at receiver set to go up against cornerback Ronald Darby. Instead of playing off, Darby decided to come to the line of scrimmage. Darby read a slant from the snap and put himself in position to break up the pass.
  • My surprise player from this drill was rookie free agent cornerback Chandon Sullivan. First, he matched up against Agholor with Wentz at quarterback. Wentz tested Sullivan deep down the left side and the Georgia State product was stride for stride with Agholor, forcing the incompletion. "It's fun. I get out here every day and it's a competition. It's not like college. Everyone out here is good," said Sullivan, who also had a nice pass breakup in a 7-on-7 drill. "It keeps me on my toes, challenging the older guys, vets like Nelson. It gives me confidence to continue to keep pushing and continue to get better at what I do." The 5-11, 195-pound Sullivan was a four-year starter at Georgia State where he was coached by Trent Miles, who is now the Eagles' offensive quality control/running backs coach. He had 182 tackles and seven interceptions in his college career which finished with him being the first player in program history to be invited to the Senior Bowl.
  • Jalen Mills continues to show his top-notch instincts on the field. Against Agholor with Wentz at quarterback, Mills perfectly read a comeback route from Agholor and forced an incomplete pass. Later, Mills smothered Mack Hollins to the point where Foles couldn't throw the football.
  • Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good, or something like that. Ward had Tre Sullivan beat down the left sideline and the pass from Wentz was a little inside and fell into Sullivan's arms who capitalized on the gift.
  • I can't take credit for this line. It was Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice who called Malcolm Jenkins a "bully" during this drill. In one rep against wide receiver Tim Wilson, Jenkins jumped up to jam him at the line of scrimmage then held him drawing a flag. Later against Zach Ertz, Jenkins recognized the route and made sure the Pro Bowl tight end wasn't going to come up with the grab.
  • If you want to get excited about Sidney Jones' prospects, he had a beautiful one-on-one rep against Agholor with Wentz at quarterback. Jones stayed in-phase with Agholor to come up with the pass deflection.

9. After receivers and defensive backs went one-on-one, the team got back together for some 11-on-11 work, and upon seeing the base defense come out on the field, my eyes went to the three linebackers. Jordan Hicks was in the middle, with Nigel Bradham on the strong side. That left the weakside position open for Kamu Grugier-Hill. We've seen a lot of different combinations, with Grugier-Hill as well as Gerry in at WILL or with Joe Walker in at MIKE (with Hicks sliding to WILL). I'm excited to keep watching that battle this summer. – Fran

10. The very first play of this period brought fans to their feet, as Foles dropped back off of play-action, stepped up, and delivered a bomb down the field between the hashes. The ball flew over Jenkins' head, and Darby was in tight coverage against Gibson, but the second-year receiver climbed the ladder and came down with a contested catch in traffic. It was the best play I've seen Gibson make in an Eagles uniform, as he got off the ground and pointed to the end zone to celebrate his big play. – Fran

11. The defense took two plays in a row, as Rodney McLeod came away with an acrobatic pass breakup on the left side of the field before Fletcher Cox exploded into the backfield, beating Warmack on a run play and forcing Corey Clement to cut back to the other side. It would have surely been a tackle for loss for Cox, who looked dominant when given the chance on Sunday morning. – Fran

12. Foles stepped out and Sudfeld came on, and on his first pass he rolled to his left off play-action and dropped in a pretty touch pass on the move across his body to Dallas Goedert, who picked up a nice chunk of yardage on the play. – Fran

13. On quarterback Joe Callahan's first pass, a throw that was slightly behind Aiken, Rasul Douglas came down and picked off the throw and took it back across the field for a big play for the defense. – Fran

14. The team period ended, and the offensive and defensive linemen went off to the side to do 1-on-1 work while C-Mac stayed with the 7-on-7 drill. Here are my notes from the 1-on-1s. – Fran

  • The first rep pitted Chris Long against Lane Johnson, and Long wins the rep with a bull rush, pushing Lane back into the pocket of the "quarterback."
  • Next, Cox jostles Chance Warmack off balance with a Reggie White-esque "hump" move, and finishes with a bull rush for the win.
  • The first offensive line win comes courtesy of Jason Kelce, who locks onto Elijah Qualls and drops his anchor down to hold up the second-year tackle. Qualls came back later in the period to beat Warmack.
  • After a spirited battle between Destiny Vaeao and Stefen Wisniewski, we see Halapoulivaati Vaitai match up with Derek Barnett. I'd call this one a draw. Barnett tries a solid spin move to work back inside and looks like he may take the rep, but Vaitai recovers and locks onto Barnett to finish the play.
  • Michael Bennett wins with a bull rush against Taylor Hart, getting into the chest of the former defensive lineman and driving him backward.
  • This was my first exposure to Jordan Mailata seeing him up close in 1-on-1s, and he did not disappoint. Not only is he huge, but he's got such light feet. There's obviously a lot more that goes into playing the offensive line, but those are good building blocks to start with. They showed up in his first rep against Sweat, as the rookie from Australia exploded out of his stance and got out to the corner to get his hands on his rookie classmate. Sweat got his hands inside and was able to rip through contact at the end, eventually winning the rep, but the upside is certainly palpable with Mailata.

15. While Fran took in the sights and sounds over with the 1-on-1s, I watched the skill players go at it on 7-on-7. Things got started quickly as Richard Rodgers continued another strong day. The veteran opened the drill with a nice catch down the left seam against McLeod. Then, he provided another Play of the Day contender catching a deep pass down the right sideline from Sudfeld. "It was good. I'm just trying to make plays in Training Camp," the fifth-year veteran said. "We've done a pretty decent job as a group so far. We're just trying to stack practices and keep improving." – Chris

  • The defense rebounded after the first snap by forcing Foles to eat the ball for a long time. Foles looked like he wanted to attack the deep, left part of the field but had to settle for a completion to Hollins. However, three plays later the defense couldn't haul in a pop-up when a Foles pass was high for Hollins and was tipped into the air into a sea of defensive backs, falling incomplete.
  • We saw a nice "levels" concept with both Ertz and Sproles running out routes to the left side of the field. Foles connected with Ertz on the intermediate depth while Sproles was the closer target.
  • Wentz didn't take reps in the full-team drills on Sunday, but saw extensive action in this 7-on-7 period with 10 snaps by my count. He completed 3 of 4 passes in his first wave of snaps featuring a nice rope to Goedert down the right seam (continuing a theme Fran brought up Saturday). The defense got the better of him in the final six snaps. Bradham cut off a route that should have been a pick-six, but the linebacker couldn't bring it in. That, of course, was something Jim Schwartz joked about in the offseason which kept Bradham from making the Pro Bowl. Jenkins showed Bradham how it's done the next snap intercepting a deep ball intended for Agholor. Safety Tre Sullivan also broke up a pass from Wentz intended down the right seam for Wheaton.

16. The final team period of the practice began with two completions from Foles underneath to Jay Ajayi and Agholor. The third play went to Ajayi on a run inside, and Warmack absolutely flattened Bradham on a blitz. The linebacker flew downhill and Warmack, at right guard, pummeled him to the dirt to help create room for the back to pick up a chunk play on the ground. – Fran

17. On the very next play, Foles threw a bubble screen to Agholor, who ran to the sideline, dipped around the corner, and flew down the left side of the field for a big catch-and-run. We got to see Agholor's explosiveness on that rep. – Fran

18. Sudfeld came in and on his first play he handed the ball off to Matt Jones on an inside run, but my eyes were on Goedert. The rookie tight end, not known for his abilities at the point of attack, latched onto Grugier-Hill and sealed him off from the action, creating a lane for Jones to pick up a handful of yards. That was a really good sign for the rookie second-round pick. – Fran

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