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Practice Notes: Opportunity Knocked, Who Answered?

Number Of The Day: 5

Running back Wendell Smallwood became only the fifth Eagle to ever record 300 rushing yards and 250 kick returns yards as a rookie. The last player, regardless of experience, to accomplish the feat was Correll Buckhalter in 2007. - Chris McPherson

Rita's Water Ice Update Of The Day

It was HOT on the practice field today, meaning I had to make my first trip to the Rita's tent for some water ice. Blue Raspberry’s reputation held up from last year’s camp, and I had enough time before filming the Practice Report with C-Mac to make sure that my teeth weren’t blue. - Fran Duffy

Fran is basically complaining that I take too long once practice and interviews end to shoot the update. I like to keep the on-camera polo shirt for after practice, but to each his own. - CM

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*Play Of The Day

Wide receiver Marcus Johnson got off to a strong start on the third play of the first team period, catching a deep ball over his shoulder for a long touchdown from Carson Wentz down the left side against cornerback Patrick Robinson.

Later, in a 7-on-7 drill, Johnson blew right by Robinson again for a 50-plus yard score to continue what was a strong day for him. - FD

Practice Observations

1. With Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Torrey Smith (back spasms) both on the sidelines today, I assumed that it would be a healthy day of targets for Nelson Agholor in the passing game. I was wrong. While Agholor ran a couple of razor sharp routes in the middle of the field, the ball didn’t go his direction often on Tuesday. Instead, it was two second-year receivers who seemed to receive the most attention: Johnson and Bryce Treggs. - FD

2. Adding to Fran's note about Agholor, in a 7-on-7 drill, quarterback Carson Wentz hit running back Darren Sproles in the flat, but Agholor had cornerback Jalen Mills beat deep on a go route down the right sideline.* - CM*

3. Treggs waited until the middle of practice to get going, but his plays came in a flurry. On a fourth-and-1 pass that he caught right at the sticks, Treggs made the catch, made two men miss, and picked up the first down. A couple of plays later, Treggs took an end around for a first down against the starting defensive unit. Shortly after that, he caught a pass from McGloin on a crossing route for another first down, this time in tight coverage between linebacker Najee Goode and safety Rodney McLeod.* - FD*

4. Rookie receiver Mack Hollins flashed as well on the outside, catching a deep dig route from quarterback Matt McGloin over the middle of the field where he had to reach out his hands and fully maximize his length, coming away with a tough grab away from his body. Hollins came away with a fade ball down the left sideline during 7-on-7 drills as well. - FD

5. Hollins sported gloves for the first time at Training Camp, noting "the knuckles get a little messed up" when the pads go on for live hitting. - CM

6. One of the sneaky fun Training Camp "battles" I’ve been watching has been for the third safety spot, a position occupied by Jaylen Watkins a year ago. Watkins is in the mix again, along with Terrence Brooks, who at this time last year was still in Baltimore. Both players made their share of big plays today. Here are the highlights from both:

A. In a half-field passing drill, Watkins perfectly defended a wheel route from running back/wide receiver Byron Marshall before earning a physical pass breakup on a crossing route from tight end Zach Ertz. As a blitzer, Watkins beat Adam Zaruba with a quick swim move inside on his way to the quarterback. Watkins picked off Wentz in the first live period of the day (on a pass intended for Ertz in the middle of the field).

B. For Brooks, he stood out as a blitzer in one-on-one drills, beating tight end Trey Burton with an inside move where he collapsed on Burton’s inside shoulder. Later in the drill, Brooks dropped back in coverage against Brent Celek and made a clean pass breakup on a curl route, getting the ball on the ground. In team sessions, he obliterated Wendell Smallwood on a screen play down the right sideline and got a diving pass breakup against Zach Ertz in the same area of the field (earning a roar of praise from his teammates). - FD

7. To follow up on Brooks vs. Watkins, Brooks made the pass breakup against Ertz and I was telling people on the sideline that I thought he had the edge over Watkins for the third safety spot. Watkins' interception came on the very next play, so there's that. - CM

8. In 9-on-7 action, Wendell Smallwood stepped in as the starter for LeGarrette Blount, and cut back against the grain on the first play for a long run. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan exploded into the backfield on the play, forcing Smallwood to cut back sooner than he would have wanted, but it was a great run by the second-year back. The next run went to the right side, but it was blocked up perfectly this time by the offensive line as Smallwood was left with just Watkins in the flat to make the stop.

The second-team offensive line got great push on a couple of long runs, while on another play the entire second unit on the defensive line drew praise from position coach Chris Wilson, who let them know that their get-off on that particular rep was "big time." Derek Barnett also made a great hustle play, chasing running back Corey Clement down 35-40 yards downfield on one long run. - FD

9. In the first live period of the day, the Eagles' offense would strike first with a swing screen to Smallwood down the right sideline. The down-the-field blocker for Smallwood was none other than Jason Kelce, who looked like the rare athlete that he is at the center spot as he released down the right sideline and helped escort the ball carrier for what seemed like a 30-plus-yard gain. On the first play of the second live period, the same two players were involved, with Smallwood taking a handoff and sprinting down the left sideline. Kelce was used as a puller on that play and he melted Rasul Douglas in the flat to help spring Smallwood. It should be noted that Douglas, who has consistently battled through his worst plays and responded with a strong rep, came up with an interception against Wentz on the very next play where he cut off a pass intended for Johnson. - FD

10. The real star for me in the live periods, however, was Tim Jernigan. He made a huge stop where he split a double team in the first series, but he saved his best for the last period of the day. On the third snap for the first-team defense, Jernigan defeated a block and made a stop of Marshall at the line of scrimmage, screaming, "Let's go," with excitement as he got off the ground. Two plays later, he once again split a double team and worked himself free to make a play in the run game. On the next rep after that, the offense ran his way and he again engulfed the running back and threw him to the ground at the line. Jernigan has proven to be one of the toughest to block in pass protection drills, and when the team went live he was outstanding against the run. - FD

11. Other plays that stood out to me during the live periods:

A. Chris Long came from the back side and tackled Smallwood on a run to the left, but I loved to see Isaac Seumalo finish his man in the backfield, getting the defender to the ground with a pancake block.

B. Burton made a leaping grab from McGloin outside the numbers on the right sideline, and then caught an almost identical throw later in the day from Wentz. The second one was tightly covered by Watkins.

C. Wentz dropped in a throw over the top of an underneath defender to hit Ertz on a long gain to help set up the offense’s final touchdown of the session. Agholor used his speed to get over the top and stretch the defense to create a void for Ertz to run through. On the next play, Smallwood took a handoff to the left and sprinted to the end zone, following blocks from Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Kelce downfield. To finish the practice, Wentz hit Ertz rolling to his right for a two-point conversion. - FD

12. Fran didn't leave much meat on the bone, but don't forget that Fletcher Cox is still on this team. In the team blitz drill, Cox bull-rushed guard Brandon Brooks into the pocket on one snap and Wentz had no room to operate. - CM

13. Linebacker Nigel Bradham could make a case for being the hardest hitter on the team. During the Special CAT (category) team drill, he gave Treggs a nice thump to welcome him to live hitting. - CM

14. A couple of impressive throws by McGloin in a 7-on-7 drill. First, he threaded a nice pass in between two defenders to get the ball to Jordan Matthews. On the final play of the drill, McGloin rolled to his right and tattooed wide receiver Shelton Gibson with a pass on his chest. Douglas had good coverage on the play, but just simply too much zip on the pass. - CM

15. During the team drills, Vaitai rotates in with Jason Peters to give the veteran a breather. - CM

Injury Update

  • Offensive lineman Josh Andrews didn't practice due to a hand injury.
  • Running back LeGarrette Blount was excused from practice for personal reasons.
  • Quarterback Nick Foles remains out with elbow soreness.
  • Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was sidelined with a shoulder injury.
  • Defensive end Alex McCalister didn't suit up due to a hamstring injury.
  • Running back Donnel Pumphrey missed practice with a hamstring injury.
  • Defensive tackle Elijah Qualls has been battling a groin injury.
  • Wide receiver Torrey Smith battled back spasms, and could not practice.
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