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Practice Notes: John Hightower, Josh Sweat shine in team scrimmage

Two weeks from Sunday, the Eagles will be in Landover, Maryland to take on the Washington Football Team in the 2020 season opener. With no preseason, the Eagles simulated a gameday experience with an intrasquad scrimmage on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. It provided the players with the opportunity to get used to a typical pregame routine, especially for the rookies and veterans alike who have never suited up for the Eagles. The players (and coaches) also got to hear what the piped-in crowd noise will be like on gameday this season (Doug Pederson signaled to the control booth that he wanted it louder during a backed-up session), except for the handful of stadiums that are allowing fans at the onset of the 2020 campaign. Coaches got to be on the field or in the booth to get adjusted to the communication on gameday.

Players were suited up in pads. Starters faced off against starters in thud periods, while the backups tackled to the ground (except for the quarterbacks, of course)! Following 7-on-7 and O-line vs. D-line 1-on-1 drills, the Eagles squared off in a simulated second quarter (to allow for a potential hurry-up situation before halftime) with a game clock, a 12-minute halftime (again to replicate a real game), and a fourth quarter before a couple of team periods to round out practice.

Before the highlights, here's a look at the injury report:

• Quarterback Carson Wentz was added to the injury report with a lower-body injury. He's day to day. Nate Sudfeld and Jalen Hurts split the first-team reps in practice.

• Wide receiver Jalen Reagor left practice early with an undisclosed injury. It happened during a two-minute drill in the final minute of the "first half." Hurts threw a ball intended for Reagor on a hitch route that cornerback Avonte Maddox knocked into the air that was intercepted by safety Will Parks.

• Running back Miles Sanders remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.

• Wide receiver Quez Watkins is day to day with an upper-body injury.

• Tackle Lane Johnson is day to day with a lower-body injury. Matt Pryor worked at left tackle with the first-team offense, while Jordan Mailata was in Johnson's spot at right tackle.

• Defensive ends Genard Avery, Derek Barnett, and Vinny Curry, and defensive tackle Javon Hargrave remain sidelined.

Here's a brief recap of the 7-on-7 drills:

• Shame about Reagor's injury later in practice because he scored on a fade route for a 25-yard touchdown from Hurts against cornerback Avonte Maddox down the left sideline.

• Another rookie wide receiver shined as John Hightower made one reception on a hitch route, scored a touchdown on a slant route from Hurts, and broke free on a scramble drill for what should have been another score but cornerback Rasul Douglas broke up the pass from Sudfeld.

• Linebacker Duke Riley made a nice pass breakup on a Hurts pass intended for a tight end (it was either Noah Togiai or Caleb Wilson).

• Cornerback Sidney Jones did a good job covering DeSean Jackson on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone with Sudfeld at quarterback to force an incomplete pass.

• The drill ended with Hurts connecting with running back Michael Warren in the flat to the right side for a touchdown. – Chris McPherson

While C-Mac watched the 7-on-7 drill, I watched the linemen do 1-on-1 drills, and after starting in the run game with some point-of-attack work, the groups transitioned to pass rush reps. Here were my biggest takeaways:

• Brandon Graham got a quick win against Jordan Mailata, same with Fletcher Cox on his first rep against Nate Herbig. The offense's first real win came via Jason Kelce, who was able to stifle a Hassan Ridgeway bull rush. Later, Mailata bounced back with a nice win against Shareef Miller on the last rep of the drill.

• Malik Jackson showed off his power with a bull rush against Isaac Seumalo. The left guard worked hard to drop his anchor and hold his ground, but Jackson was too much for him and was able to move "quarterback" Connor Barwin off his spot in the drill. These two have had some good battles in one-on-ones here in camp.

• Matt Pryor and Josh Sweat battled through a stalemate on their first rep on the offense's left side. Pryor shut the door on a Joe Ostman inside move shortly afterwards.

• Jack Driscoll was able to lock up Shareef Miller on each of their first reps. Driscoll battled with Brandon Graham on his next rep and held his own against the veteran rusher. – Fran Duffy

Here are the players who stood out during the scrimmage and team periods:

• Two touchdowns for Hightower: The rookie continued his strong play with a 24-yard touchdown on a fade route in the back right corner of the end zone against cornerback Craig James from Hurts during the scrimmage. Later in a team period, Hightower scored on a deep pass from Sudfeld. It appeared as if Hightower put a double move on Maddox and broke free for a 72-yard touchdown. Sudfeld sold the double move with a pump fake and aired the ball out for the speedy rookie who caught the ball at the 28-yard line before racing in the rest of the way.

• Defensively, one player who definitely stood out today was Josh Sweat. The third-year defensive end was really active in the backfield, whether it was in the pass game or in the run game. He got a couple of "sacks" in the scrimmage against a couple of different offensive linemen, and was around the football in the run game as well. After what basically amounted to a redshirt year as a rookie in 2018, Sweat turned into a solid role player in 2019 and is geared for something more this fall. I'm excited to see his development take the next step.

• With Wentz out of the lineup on Sunday, we saw a good mix of both Sudfeld and Hurts with the first team, and I thought both showed off the strengths of their game. Sudfeld delivered some beautiful touch throws, which has always been one of my favorite parts of his game. He found DeSean Jackson on a corner route on his second drive with the starters early in the scrimmage with nice placement outside the numbers. Later, on a third-down throw to the back shoulder, he again showed off his touch on a scoring strike to Travis Fulgham against the backups on defense. Late in practice, Sudfeld found both Greg Ward and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside down the left side on nice touch throws to the back shoulder as well. With Hurts, we saw his playmaking ability as he was able to run around and create with his arm and his legs outside the pocket. In addition to the Hightower touchdown throw, he found tight end Caleb Wilson as well for an impressive completion across the middle.

• Elijah Holyfield had some nice sticks in pass protection today against blitzers from the second level. The young running back was able to show off his physicality on some runs today, but the blocks in pass protection are just as, if not more, important for his potential future on the team.

• Rasul Douglas has helped himself in the live tackling drills over the last week or so. He had a couple of stops at the line of scrimmage today one-on-one and also had a "sack" in team drills today as well.

• With three defensive ends out due to injury, second-year player Shareef Miller has stepped up in their absence. In the second half, Miller made his presence felt with a tackle for loss and a QB pressure on consecutive plays. The drive ended with the Fulgham touchdown, but Miller denied the two-point conversion stuffing Adrian Killins for a loss. He added another tackle for loss following the scrimmage in a team period. Miller has had a solid camp. Credit to him after not getting on the field as a rookie and not having a typical Year 1 to Year 2 offseason to get in the work needed to be ready. Miller can be a three-down end and a valuable reserve this season.

• Plenty of hustle on the final play of practice. Wide receiver Manasseh Bailey gained 95 yards on a long catch-and-run from Hurts. Credit to rookie free agent cornerback Michael Jacquet. After getting beat by Bailey down the right sideline around midfield, Jacquet recovered and got the receiver down at the 1-yard line to prevent the touchdown.

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