Practice Notes: One Final Recap From Training Camp

1. It’s the last day of Training Camp, and despite the fact that there’s rain in the forecast for the afternoon, it’s pretty hot as the Eagles take the field for practice. With today being the last day of camp, I feel the need to get one last cup of Rita’s Water Ice. As is normally the case, blue raspberry is the go-to choice, though I did think about mixing in some Swedish Fish flavor along with it (For the record, I would never, ever, ever go with lemon). – Fran Duffy

2. One of my favorite individual position drills to watch during camp is the defensive line hand combat drill. This features the defensive line coaches with big, padded arm sleeves and the defensive linemen are tasked with using a variety of hand swipes, swats, clubs, and counter moves at the point of attack. It’s fascinating to watch Fletcher Cox take multiple reps in a row and using different plans of attack based on the set and punch of the lineman across from him. Cox has a freaky combination of strength and quickness but it’s the methodical and violent use of his hands that makes him the dominant player he is. – Ben Fennell

3. Rookie offensive lineman Matt Pryor is continuing to show his full range of abilities to this Eagles coaching staff. Pryor is pegged in as the backup right guard behind Brandon Brooks. Today, the rookie showed a variety of blocks today in the team install period, especially blocks on the moves like screen passes, sweeps, and outside zone. – Ben

4. Tuesday was a 10-10-10 practice, so the starters opened on the field against the defensive backups ... almost. While the second-team defensive line and linebackers are on the field, the starting secondary is out there with Jalen Mills at left corner, Ronald Darby at right corner, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod at safety, and rookie Avonte Maddox in the slot. This is Maddox’s third straight practice with the first-team nickel package. – Fran

5. Dallas Goedert caught a catch early on from Nate Sudfeld in the flat. It was the first time we’ve seen the rookie on the field in team drills after leaving Saturday’s practice with an upper-body injury. Goedert used both of his arms to go up and get the football on the reception in the middle of the field. – Fran

6. The defensive starters took the field against the offensive backups, and this a bit of a smash-mouth look on both sides. The offense came out in a heavy 13 personnel package with three tight ends on the field. The Eagles matched it with four defensive linemen, four linebackers, and three defensive backs. The four linebackers were Jordan Hicks and Joe Walker inside with Nate Gerry and Nigel Bradham on the outside. One interesting note on the depth chart – Haloti Ngata lined up with the first-team defensive line next to Fletcher Cox. Destiny Vaeao had held that spot throughout the first 14 practices. – Fran

7. In this period with all of the extra tight ends on the field, one thing really stood out to me, and that’s the Eagles' versatility offensively and how they can put larger bodies on the field yet still line them up in spread passing sets. This forces linebackers into coverage roles in space and down the field.

  • The highlight catch in this session was an impressive one-handed grab by tight end Billy Brown. The Eagles used three tight ends on the play but spread them out across the width of the field. Joshua Perkins was split out wide outside the numbers, with Brown in-line off the line of scrimmage. The former college receiver was able to get vertical down the seam past Bradham and tapped the ball to himself with his outstretched arm. I’d argue it was one of the best catches of the summer.
  • On another heavy personnel play in the session, the Eagles used two tight ends and an extra offensive lineman but aligned in a much more traditional run formation. This play featured a hard play-action fake to the strong side with Perkins leaking downfield late as Corey Graham bit hard on the run fake. Joe Callahan dropped in a pass to Perkins for a big gain.

This was a defensive period, so Jim Schwartz clearly wanted his defense to be put in these stressful situations, but I thought the Eagles' offensive versatility really stood out, particularly with the athletic Brown. – Ben

8. We got to see newly signed quarterback Christian Hackenberg for the first time Later in the session. Again, this is a period designed to benefit the defense, but the first two throws for Hackenberg didn’t go well. First, a throw late in the middle of the field was picked off by Rasul Douglas. On the next play, Kamu Grugier-Hill jumped a throw intended for a receiver on the outside. Don’t write the former Penn State star off just yet though, because again this was a period that serviced the defense first and foremost. – Fran

9. The offensive starters returned to the field after some special teams work, and Nick Foles goes deep on the first play to Mike Wallace for a big gain. The ball was a bit underthrown, but the veteran receiver did a great job adjusting to the ball mid-flight. – Fran

10. One thing I noticed on the play was that Jalen Mills was not on the field. He left practice at some point, though at the time of this writing it’s unsure as to why. This allowed Sidney Jones to take the first-team reps at left cornerback opposite Darby. On the injury front, Josh Adams was not a participant on Tuesday after getting banged up in the practice bubble on Monday. – Ben

11. Nate Sudfeld dropped back later in the drill and threw a screen pass to running back Matt Jones to the left. Isaac Seumalo did a great job of getting out in space and blocking Destiny Vaeao, helping to spring Jones for a big gain. Seumalo has had his share of troubles snapping the ball in the shotgun this summer, but he offers a lot to this team. Outside of his versatility (he can play any of the five offensive line spots in a pinch), Seumalo is strong, athletic, and almost never on the ground. He’s a valuable part of this offense, especially as a sixth offensive lineman in some sets. – Fran

12. The defensive starters return to the field, and the linebacker hierarchy is becoming more consistent as the days go on. Second-year player Nathan Gerry is getting a majority of the reps as the starting weakside linebacker in the base defense, and he appears to be battling Kamu Grugier-Hill for the job. Those two are also the backup nickel linebackers (behind Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham). Joe Walker is the backup middle linebacker and comes on the field in their heavy goal-line package as a fourth linebacker. – Ben

13. Staying at linebacker, Bradham made a nice pass breakup downfield on a pass intended for Wendell Smallwood on a vertical route. – Fran

14. The defense practiced several dime package plays today, featuring six defensive backs on the field. This package brings the third safety, Graham, onto the field along with nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox. This package is used in heavy pass or third-and-long situations. – Ben

15. The final offensive session was highlighted by a Hail Mary throw from Callahan to Rashard Davis. The defense jumped offsides on the play, so Callahan knew he had a free play and chucked it up to the young receiver, who came down with it in the back of the end zone. – Fran

16. The final defensive period featured an impressive two-play sequence from Derek Barnett. First, the former first-round pick turned the corner against Halapoulivaati Vaitai and forced Big V into a blatant hold on his way to the quarterback. He stuck his foot in the ground on the next play and exploded to the flat to wrap up the ballcarrier on a toss play outside. – Fran

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