Two minicamp practices down, one to go before the Eagles break for six weeks ahead of Training Camp.
Before Dave Spadaro and Chris McPherson share their observations from practice, the team made a roster move placing linebacker Paul Worrilow on Injured Reserve. He suffered a knee injury during Organized Team Activities. Now, the practice notes.
JORDAN HICKS 'PART OF THINGS AGAIN'
Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks came off the practice field on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex filled with confidence and energy as he took, literally, another step toward full-time duties in the Eagles' defense. When, exactly, that will be, we don’t know. But Hicks, rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last season, is absolutely sure he’s going to make an impact in 2018.
“It feels good to be a part of things again,” he said. “It’s hard to sit around and not be a part of things. I think I’m ahead of schedule, like I’ve been pretty much the entire time and where I expected to be at this point. We’re taking it day by day, continuing to work hard, to make sure that when we get back for Training Camp, I’ll be in a better place.”
It may be a stretch to expect Hicks to be in the middle of the defense on Day 1 of Training Camp (the team reports on July 25 to the NovaCare Complex) but if all goes well it won’t be too much longer after that. At the very least, Hicks should be more involved than he’s been in the minicamp, during which Hicks has been limited to individual drills and more rehabilitation.
Having Hicks ready for the season and on the field all year would be a huge boost to a defense that has improved up front with the additions of end Michael Bennett and tackle Haloti Ngata and in the secondary with a young and talented group competing at cornerback. Retaining linebacker Nigel Bradham in free agency was an important move, and if Hicks can come all the way back ...
“We’re looking good, really good,” Hicks said. “I can’t wait to get on the field. I’m so excited. We’ve been in this defense for three years now. The entire team, really, is extremely talented. We know how to play together and we care for each other. That is the finishing touch to tell who we’re going to be this year.” - DS
THE DRAFT PICK UPDATE
Second-round draft pick Dallas Goedert, the team’s first pick in April’s draft, was said to be a player who could come right in and make an impact in the offense at the tight end position after a prolific career at South Dakota State. He isn’t there yet – all of the rookies have a lot to learn – but Goedert has been a consistent pass catcher who is improving with his routes and shows the athletic ability and strength to create space against defensive players in coverage.
Goedert, then, is on track to make an impact working with veterans Zach Ertz and Richard Rodgers in the offense at the tight end position.
“It’s going great so far, from the first three days of rookie minicamp, the game has slowed down quite a bit,” Goedert said. “I’m starting to get more comfortable in the offense and the way tight ends are supposed to do things around here. The language is starting to make a lot more sense. The words mean something now. I really enjoy that. I like knowing what I’m supposed to be doing out there.
“There has been a learning curve, but I feel like I’m fitting in.”
The rest of the 2018 Draft Class? Here’s an update ...
• Fourth-round draft pick Avonte Maddox has played mostly as the second-team nickel cornerback, behind De’Vante Bausby, but the truth is that defensive backs coach Cory Undlin is shuffling players in and out of that position on a daily basis. Maddox has taken a lot of reps and impressed with his quickness and tenacity.
• Fifth-round draft pick Josh Sweat is an athletic specimen at defensive end and has come a long way physically on the field when he seemed to drag his surgically repaired knee around a bit. He’s explosive and athletic, and very, very raw. Sweat has lined up as a second-team right defensive end.
• Sixth-round draft pick Matt Pryor is learning every day, taking a lot of reps as a third-team right offensive tackle. He’s big and strong and looks to be a good athlete. The technical work is improving.
• Seventh-round draft pick Jordan Mailata is a work in progress. He is, literally, learning from the ground up. He’s much better than he was in early May, but nowhere close to where he needs to be to play good football in this league. As expected, Mailata is a superb athlete and very promising and a long ways away. - DDS
HIGHLIGHT PLAY OF THE DAY SHOWS HOW SPEED KILLS
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld aired the ball out on a deep corner route for wide receiver Bryce Treggs, who made a spectacular diving grab, during a 7-on-7 period Wednesday.
The play highlights the speed that the Eagles' receivers have, and the challenge opposing defensive backs will have this season.
"We're putting it on film every day. We have guys who can roll from Nellie (Nelson Agholor) all the way down," Treggs said. "Not only can they air it out, but that's also causing a lot of separation for us underneath because the DBs are fearing our speed, fearing us getting over the top. When you have fast receivers, it really opens up the offense a lot."
The reps this spring helped develop the trust and chemistry that resulted in the highlight.
"It's been something me and Nate have been talking about for a minute, putting the ball out there and letting me go get it," Treggs said. "We had a similar play at the end of practice last season where it was that same type of fingertip catch. I just told him to trust me, put it out there, and I'll go get it. And that's what happened. It was a great ball by him to let me run under.
"If you watch the film, I didn't look up until I was wayyyy down the field because I knew he was throwing to a spot. That's how we coach it, run to the spot. It's their job to put the ball there, and Nate did a great job on that play."
This offseason, the Eagles have added three speedy veteran receivers in Mike Wallace, Markus Wheaton, and Marquess Wilson. Quarterback Carson Wentz is ecstatic about the addition of Wallace.
"I've been really excited about Mike. Seeing Mike out here, he's a lot faster than I thought on film. It's been really cool," Wentz said. "Unfortunately, for me, I haven't gotten a ton of work with him in live reps." - CM
It was great to see tackle Jason Peters launching out of his stance during individual drills. He looked explosive going into the blocker's pads. Limited to individual work thus far in the minicamp, Peters is wearing a brace on his right knee, the one he injured against Washington last October.
As the specialists watched during the individual drills, I was quite impressed with long snapper Rick Lovato's ability to spike the ball to himself on a consistent basis. It's almost as if he's dribbling a basketball.
Nick Foles took a moment to showcase the receiving skills that helped the Eagles win a Super Bowl. The quarterbacks were running a drill where the passer would slide to his left, reset his feet, then make the throw. Support staff rotated as the receivers, but Foles took one rep and made a nice grab with his arms extended on a throw from Carson Wentz.
Wednesday's practice focused on the run game. During a team blitz drill, Corey Clement took a handoff and went off-tackle to the right side. He turned up the field and was untouched much to the delight of the offensive linemen.
Cornerback Rasul Douglas dove in front of a Nate Sudfeld pass attempt and nearly came up with the interception. In a 7-on-7 drill, Douglas got the best of a Carson Wentz pass and hauled in the interception.
D.J. Killings got first-team reps as the slot cornerback on Wednesday. He picked off a Foles pass in a 7-on-7 drill.
Zach Ertz used his size during a team blitz drill as he went in motion before the snap and shielded linebacker Nathan Gerry from getting the ball thrown by Foles. Gerry wasn't the only victim as Ertz did this to Jalen Mills on a 7-on-7 drill via a curl route.
Gerry bounced back later in a team period with an interception on a Foles pass over the middle. Gerry worked with the first-team defense in both base and nickel situations.
Wentz went deep down the right sideline for Wallace off a go route in a 7-on-7 drill. Mills stayed in-stride with Wallace and broke up the pass.
In the final team period, Foles did a good job of rolling to his right and hitting Nelson Agholor along the sideline. Agholor, to his credit, showcased some toe-drag swag to make it a completion. It was a bright spot on the day as Agholor had a couple of drops earlier in practice.
The final play of the team session was a deep pass down the right sideline intended for wide receiver Shelton Gibson. Chandon Sullivan did a great job of keeping up with him to break up the ball.
At one point during practice, Wentz was tossing the ball with Alshon Jeffery, sidelined after rotator cuff surgery. It's the first time I've seen them connect since the third-quarter touchdown throw in Los Angeles which was Wentz's last throw of the season.
The injury list for the Eagles was the same from Tuesday: Jeffery, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Ryan Neal, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, running back Josh Adams, safety Chris Maragos, defensive end Brandon Graham, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, and cornerback Sidney Jones. - CM
The Eagles were back on the field for Day Two of 2018 Minicamp at the NovaCare Complex.