Fran Duffy offers a comprehensive diary-style recap of the most intense Training Camp practice of the week. Head Coach Doug Pederson hosted a game-like scrimmage that pitted the top units against one another and several other competitive periods that featured live hitting.
10:24 AM – It's a beautiful day in South Philadelphia and probably the hottest day of camp so far. Would have been a great day to hit the Rita's Water Ice stand before, during, and after practice. I can't wait until the full Training Camp atmosphere returns to the NovaCare Complex next year (hopefully!).
10:27 AM – Players have filed out onto the field. Center Jason Kelce is donning a Flyers jersey underneath his practice jersey. Considering the heat, I give him credit. He had to lose 10 pounds of water weight today. Excited to see Carter Hart in Game 6 tonight for the Fly Guys!
10:30 AM – Practice begins with an individual period. The specialists are working on the field directly in front of us, with Cam Johnson, Jake Elliott, and Rick Lovato joined by linebacker Nathan Gerry. Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp was asked about Gerry on Friday morning during his media session and talked about how valuable Gerry is to that unit, and even mentioned how he's done some long snapping for the team on the side. That's exactly what he was working on to start the day.
10:40 AM – Installation periods begin. I've begun to take notice of who exactly is NOT on the field today. Players not in attendance included tight ends Zach Ertz (upper body) and Dallas Goedert (upper body), wide receivers Jalen Reagor (illness) and Deontay Burnett (illness), running backs Miles Sanders (lower body) and Boston Scott, cornerbacks Sidney Jones (lower body) and Rasul Douglas (illness), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (upper body), defensive ends Derek Barnett (lower body) and Shareef Miller (illness), and safety Marcus Epps (lower body).
10:50 AM – Carson Wentz kicks off a 7-on-7 drill with three straight completions. First, Wentz hits Corey Clement in the flat to the right, then he hits DeSean Jackson on a hitch route to the same side of the field before finding tight end Josh Perkins (working with the first team with both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the sideline).
10:53 AM – The first big defensive play comes courtesy of Avonte Maddox, who jumps a Wentz throw intended for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside along the near sideline for a near-interception. The entire defense, which was loud and chirpy all morning, jumped up in excitement but ragged on the young veteran after the missed opportunity for a turnover. That energy continued a minute later, when cornerback Craig James bobbled and dropped an attempted interception on a Nate Sudfeld pass toward Robert Davis.
10:55 AM – Jalen Hurts threw one pass in the period, and it was completed to fellow rookie Quez Watkins down the left sideline. It was a back-shoulder throw, and cornerback Cre'Von LeBlanc was in coverage but had no way to play the ball.
10:58 AM – The team moved into the red zone, staying in the 7-on-7 format, and after an incompletion to Greg Ward, the coverage locks down on Wentz's options, forcing the quarterback to roll right before the play was blown dead. Credit a coverage "sack" for the defense inside the 10-yard line.
11:00 AM – The entire team gets together for the first part of the scrimmage. The defense lines up on the near sideline, and the offense on the far sideline. This will be a "move the field" format, so every "drive" will start with a kickoff. The offense will then start from the 25-yard line and get the opportunity to move the ball. Each drive ends with a field goal, punt, or extra point (unless there's a turnover, of course). Once that drive ends, the next group comes on, and away we go.
11:01 AM – The first full-speed special teams period is up and running with a kickoff. Linebackers Duke Riley and T.J. Edwards get themselves psyched up with a scripted handshake before they line up. Riley and Edwards appear to be battling for defensive playing time, but you can see the camaraderie the two have as they get ready for special teams – an area where Riley has excelled since arriving in Philadelphia. Safety Rudy Ford showed off the jets on this play, being the first man down the field and knifing through the blocking scheme to get to the returner after a short gain. Ford has made a career so far of doing things just like that with his speed.
11:03 AM – It's "good vs good" to kick things off. Wentz finds DeSean Jackson on the right for a short gain. Corey Clement hits a run inside to move the chains. After a Wentz incompletion, he finds Clement on the left side for a good gain. Holyfield gets a run inside to bring up fourth-and-short. The play is a perimeter run by Holyfield, but Rodney McLeod is there to make the stop behind the line of scrimmage to force a turnover on downs. The defense – understandably – is hype.
11:07 AM – The second-team defense forces a three-and-out on its first appearance, with the biggest play coming courtesy of Cre'Von LeBlanc, who got himself a pass breakup downfield on a fade route. It was a great play by the veteran slot corner.
11:12 AM – The first-team groups are back out, and on second down, Malik Jackson flies into the backfield with a great rush move against Isaac Seumalo and gets home for a "sack" of Carson Wentz. It's great to see Jackson back out there alongside Fletcher Cox. Remember, we haven't seen much of these guys on the field together at all, as Cox missed all of last summer recovering from an injury, returned in Week 1 against Washington, only for Jackson to get hurt and miss the rest of the season.
11:13 AM – The offense bounces back after the sack with two straight completions from Wentz to Arcega-Whiteside. On third-and-very-long, Wentz pulled the trigger on an anticipation throw outside the numbers to the second-year receiver, who dove along the sideline and came up with the reception going to the ground. Great catch by Arcega-Whiteside with full extension as he rolled out of bounds with the ball. On the very next play, Wentz rolled left off play-action, was under pressure, and chucked up a jump ball to Arcega-Whiteside along the left sideline. Maddox and McLeod were both in the area, but Arcega-Whiteside showed off that basketball background by coming down with the ball like he was attacking the offensive glass. The referee signaled both feet in-bounds (much to the chagrin of the defense), and the offense moved the chains once again.
11:18 AM – The offense finished the drive with a touchdown. A quick recap: Wentz completed passes to Perkins, Arcega-Whiteside, and Clement in succession. Defensively, Jalen Mills had a nice stop in the flat on one play, and Brandon Graham had a nice wrap-up stop at the line of scrimmage on an inside run. The drive ended with a Wentz touchdown throw to rookie tight end Noah Togiai, who was only on the field with Ertz and Goedert on the sideline. It was a great throw by Wentz to the back shoulder for the score.
11:20 AM – Things looked bad for the second-team offense on the second go-round. A big hit by the defense on first down followed by a sack on second down brought up third-and-long, but Nate Sudfeld came back and made the best throw he's made so far in camp, hitting tight end Caleb Wilson along the sideline against a blitz to move the chains. There was a rusher right in Sudfeld's face but he pulled the trigger on a play very, very similar to the throw from Wentz to Arcega-Whiteside on the last drive. The throw was on the money and Wilson came away with the catch for a first down.
11:22 AM – A couple of plays later, rookie K'Von Wallace shows up along the sideline. It was an outside run play, and tackle Jordan Mailata was screaming up to the third level to block the safety. Wallace dipped his way past Mailata – no easy task – and then met the physical running back, Elijah Holyfield, for a nice collision. Both guys popped right back up. It was a nice stick by Wallace. It was great to hear the thud of pads like that again. Holyfield caught a pass in the flat on the very next play and was able to shake rookie linebacker Shaun Bradley and pick up some extra yardage. He tried to do the same on the next rep to veteran safety Will Parks and had no such luck. Great tackle by Parks in the alley to get Holyfield on the ground.
11:27 AM – After a nice tackle by Bradley on third down one-on-one in the flat, Jake Elliott lined up for a 57-yard field goal and connected. He had a little bit of a breeze in his favor, but he still stroked it for the conversion. Teammates and coaches on both sides praised Elliott for knocking that one through.
11:31 AM – Sudfeld stays on the field to take a drive with the first-team unit. This isn't uncommon to do this with the backup quarterback, but the defense shut the doors on them. On third down, Malik Jackson once again wreaked havoc, pushing the pocket, forcing Sudfeld to his left and giving chase before forcing Doug Pederson to blow the play dead before the throw. Jackson showed off the power and the burst he has on that play.
11:37 AM – The backup units on both sides took the field again, and on second down, Ford comes downhill from the safety spot and lays a lick on the rookie running back Adrian Killins. The members of the secondary delivered a handful of nice sticks and big hits on Friday, and the defensive sideline loved every bit of it.
11:39 AM – Jalen Hurts got the quarterback reps on this series, and after a couple of gains with his legs outside the pocket, the defensive starters started the let the rookie have it from the sideline.
"Give that kid a green jersey!"
"You gotta throw the ball sometimes!"
Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, and the rest of the Eagles' defensive line give the rookie a hard time as he picks up some chunks on the ground, and they get the last laugh. The defense forces a punt after two straight incompletions, with T.J. Edwards coming up with the big one on third down in the middle of the field on a pass breakup.
11:43 AM – I mentioned on Wednesday's podcast that Will Parks brings great energy to special teams, and that showed up on the ensuing punt. Lined up as a right "jammer" for the punt return team, Parks absolutely engulfed the gunner on his side, receiver Robert Davis, much to the delight of his defensive teammates. Parks rode Davis out of bounds and helped create a nice return.
11:44 AM – The scrimmage portion of practice ends, and the team begins working on their third-down packages on both sides of the ball. The defensive line got the best of the offensive line in this one, making Carson Wentz uncomfortable for all three of his throws, all of which fell incomplete.
11:48 AM – The second-team group comes out, and Nate Sudfeld has a bit more luck. On his first pass, Sudfeld finds Robert Davis for a completion down the left side for a nice gain. Two plays later, he throws a perfect deep ball to a streaking Marcus Green, who was matched up against Cre'Von LeBlanc. Sudfeld dropped the throw perfectly into Green's hands downfield for a long pass that could have gone for a touchdown in live action.
11:50 AM – After the long throw to Green, the defensive group got a good play from defensive end Genard Avery, who beat Jordan Mailata off the edge quickly and forced Sudfeld out of the pocket. The play was blown dead for the sack. Avery is an explosive, explosive pass rusher.
11:54 AM – The team moved into the red zone for some more situational work, and the defense had more success inside the 20-yard line. Fletcher Cox wrapped up Corey Clement at the line of scrimmage on an inside run. Tight coverage forced Wentz to take a sack as well as the coverage was very good throughout the day for the most part. The lone touchdown came to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside from Wentz on the fourth play for the first-team.
12:03 PM – A short-yardage period starts, and on the first play the offense tries an outside run with Corey Clement, but linebacker Duke Riley is right there to thud up the veteran running back before he can get going. Riley definitely has speed to play from sideline to sideline. He, Edwards, and Gerry seem to be battling for two spots in the nickel defense at linebacker.
12:09 PM – Situational football work continues, as the team converts to a backed-up scenario, with the offense lining up on their own goal line in the shadow of the goal posts. On the first play, Wentz drops back to pass and is nearly picked off by McLeod, who jumped a route on the far side of the field. The ball went right through his hands, and the safety's teammates were right there to let him hear about it after the play.
12:14 PM – The second-team units come on the field and Hassan Ridgeway makes his presence felt, getting quick penetration inside and forcing an early throw downfield that is nearly picked off. Ridgeway flashes to me every day and has gotten lots of reps with Javon Hargrave sidelined all week and with both Malik Jackson and Fletcher Cox missing days.
12:19 PM – It's time for the final period of practice, a two-minute drill. The situation? The offense has the ball on their own 45-yard line with one timeout. They need a field goal to win. Can they make it happen?
12:20 PM – On first down, Josh Sweat beat Andre Dillard with a nifty inside move to get home immediately to Carson Wentz. I hadn't seen that kind of move from Sweat before, and it's great to see him grow as a pass rusher. The defense is fired up for the young defensive end after he makes the big play in the big spot. With only one timeout left, the offense hurries to the line for the next play, but this time it's the same result. On this play, it's Fletcher Cox from the right side who gets home for the sack. I couldn't tell if it came against Jason Kelce or Matt Pryor at right guard, but Cox came in quickly and got to Wentz.
12:21 PM – After a short gain by Corey Clement, the offense now faces fourth-and-long. The secondary is back in prevent defense, and this time it's Malik Jackson who gets the sack with an athletic move, turning the corner and tugging on Wentz's jersey to end the drill for the starting units.
12:22 PM – The second-team hopes to have better luck. Nate Sudfeld finds Elijah Holyfield open along the near sideline for a first down to get things started, but a false start brings up first-and-15. A blitz on the next play forces a near interception by Avery. That brings up second down. Then things get a bit ugly. No one blocks Casey Toohill, and he gets home scot-free for a sack on what had to be a blown protection up front. On third down, the same thing happens. Was it on the offensive line? The quarterback? It's tough for me to say from this vantage point, but the confusion brings up fourth-and-a-mile.
12:26 PM – The potential final play of practice. It's fourth down from the 47-yard line. The offense needs a big gain here to keep the drive alive. The secondary again drops back in a prevent look. Sudfeld takes the shotgun snap, drops back, and faces quick pressure from his left. Who is there? Hassan Ridgeway. The young veteran gets into the backfield, comes up with the sack, and the day is over. Ridgeway has made impressive plays every day in practice, whether it's been in team drills or one-on-one action. He seals the "win" for the defense to end the practice.