Philadelphia Eagles News

Practice Notes: LB Joe Walker Rebounds After Lost 2016 Season


Here are our notes and observations from the second day of Rookie and Selected Vet practices at the NovaCare Complex.

Number Of The Day: 379

Carson Wentz set a team and all-time NFL rookie record with 379 completions in 2016. He also threw for the fourth-most passing yards (3,782) in Eagles single-season history, trailing only Donovan McNabb in 2008 (3,916) and 2004 (3,875), and Randall Cunningham in 1988 (3,808). - John Gonoude

Practice Observations

1. The biggest takeaway for me today was second-year linebacker Joe Walker. A 2016 seventh-round pick who missed his rookie year with a torn ACL suffered late last August, Walker looked like he was going to make the opening 53-man roster before his injury. A year later, the athletic linebacker stood out on the second day of camp, and it was apparent from the jump. Practice started with special teams individual drills, with a host of players practicing one by one on their ability to block on the kickoff return team. Walker, by my eyes, was the most impressive of the day, looking explosive, violent, and stout at the point of attack (veteran Ron Brooks and rookie Rasul Douglas also flashed during this drill).

"I'm feeling good. It's good to be back out there. It was a long break from the football field, so I'm feeling good," Walker said. "Mentally, I feel very good. Day 1 was to kind of break the rust away. I'm getting more comfortable every day."

In the last practice session of the day, Walker was integral to two interceptions down in the red zone. On the first, Walker got the defense lined up as the middle linebacker, helping fellow second-year player Don Cherry get lined up just before the snap. The ball was knocked up into the air, and Walker outleaped rookie defensive back Randall Goforth for the interception. Brooks, clearly impressed by the feat and maybe with a little bit of good-natured jabbing at Goforth, turned to the media and said, "Write that down, (Goforth) got out jumped by a linebacker." Goforth shouldn't feel too bad, however, because Walker was known as an outstanding athlete coming out of Oregon last spring, as his Pro Day test scores resulted in him being one of the most prolific athletes at the linebacker position in the last decade coming out of college.

Just a few plays later, Walker helped create another interception, this time for Cherry. Quarterback Dane Evans put a pass right on the hands of rookie Greg Ward, but Walker got to the catch point at the same time, helping to knock the ball into the air for Cherry to pick the pass off to end practice. - Fran Duffy

2. Wentz looked sharp again on Tuesday, outside of one near-interception down in the red zone. In the first 7-on-7 period of the session, he hit Ward over the middle for a short gain before putting a pass right on the numbers to rookie Donnel Pumphrey in the flat, just out of reach of linebacker Nate Gerry. Pumphrey was very active in the passing game on Tuesday, as he moved all around the formation. Wentz finished the drive with a completion to second-year receiver Marcus Johnson on a shallow crossing route. The two hooked up again later in the day for a touchdown on a corner route, a throw that Wentz placed just between two defenders on the money along the sideline for a score. - FD

3. Backup quarterback Nick Foles took the reins from there, hitting Ward on a wheel route deep downfield. It was another impressive day for Ward, the former quarterback-turned-receiver. - FD

4. The interception by Cherry to end the morning was his second pick of the day, as he made a diving interception earlier in practice on a pass thrown behind rookie Mack Hollins on a deep curl route.

"Coach (Ken) Flajole is super-specific and always says, 'The devil is in the details.' It's the little things that he talks about that I pick up on that make the difference between making an interception and being a second short," Cherry said. - FD

5. Quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Dane Evans both threw a couple of picks on the day, but they finished on a high note. McGloin hit second-year receiver David Watford for a touchdown on a corner route over rookie safety Tre Sullivan, while Evans hit Hollins right on the money on a post route late in practice. It was a great route by Hollins, who was matched up on cornerback Rasul Douglas, as Hollins waited until the very last moment to break the route off, and Evans hit Hollins right in stride for the score. - FD

6. Sullivan did come up with an easy interception of his own in the first 7-on-7 drill as Evans badly overthrew Hollins on a deep pass down the right seam. - Chris McPherson

7. One area where Hollins needs to improve is in attacking the football. Hollins had a step on cornerback Jomal Wiltz in the back right corner of the end zone. The pass from Foles was a little high, but Hollins looked to track the ball in rather than use his 6-4 frame. - CM

8. Douglas spoke to the media following Monday's practice about how he used the time before Training Camp to study the playbook. It looks like the hard work has paid off early on. Douglas appears very comfortable in the scheme, able to communicate to his fellow defensive backs with ease on the field. This is a good sign for a rookie who could play a significant role early in his career. - CM

Take a closer look at Day 2 of Eagles Camp at the NovaCare Complex...

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