- Yes, it's an overreaction, but isn't that what this time of the year is all about? Taking a look at Carson Wentz, some "freak" veterans, and depth on the roster.
It's been only four days, so excuse the overreaction. Four days of practice, two days in full pads and exactly zero days of tackling and a notebook filled with observations. Welcome to the State of the Eagles after the opening weekend of Training Camp, 2018 and understand that things are going to change a bunch between now and when the team has its 53-man roster in place. Camp is humming along beautifully at the NovaCare Complex and the Eagles like where they are. With that, some notes on what has happened on the field.
1. The best place to start is at the quarterback position, where the Eagles have a great situation. Carson Wentz looks great. His footwork is superb, he's playing with a super-high level of confidence, and he's throwing the ball accurately and with authority. He's planting and throwing and Wentz appears to be really trusting that plant leg. When he rolls out, he does so confidently. To the educated eye, even, Wentz looks remarkably good. Now it's up to the medical team. Once Wentz is cleared for contact – his final hurdle – he's going to be full go. Until then, he's going to keep working hard, developing a rapport with his new receivers, and wait for the go ahead.
2. Nick Foles is so much better in games than he is in practice. That's just something to note through the years. Nate Sudfeld has impressed with his quick release and deep throws – he and wide receiver Mike Wallace connected nicely on a long ball on Sunday against cornerback Rasul Douglas. Sudfeld is going to get a lot of work the preseason. The Eagles want to find out about him, and he's off to a solid start.
3. The linebacker group still has questions but there are some positives. Jordan Hicks looks like he's moving around well after last year's Achilles injury. Joe Walker is fully recovered from his 2016 ACL injury and looks much more mobile and confident in the defense. Kamu Grugier-Hill appears to be in the lead, at the moment, for the WILL job. Please note: The tackling has not yet started. We'll know more starting on Tuesday.
4. Wallace can still really run. He has looked good. Second-year man Shelton Gibson is far more confident catching the football after a shaky rookie year. Gibson made the play of the day on Sunday as he caught a deep throw from Foles, taking the ball away from Malcolm Jenkins and Ronald Darby in coverage.
5. Free agent signee Corey Nelson hasn't jumped out at the linebacker position, but we'll see how it goes when the action is live. The starting job is there for the taking at the weakside position.
6. Sidney Jones and De'Vante Bausby have rotated as the starters in the nickel cornerback position, with Darby and Jalen Mills starting outside. Fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox, projected as a slot corner, has some catching up to do.
7. Jason Peters looks like Jason Peters. It's amazing.
8. And Darren Sproles seriously looks like he hasn't lost even a little bit in terms of quickness and short-area burst. He and Peters are true genetic freaks, and they work so hard to stay sharp.
9. Second-year defensive end Derek Barnett against Peters is the one-on-one matchup of Training Camp and it's going to benefit both players. Barnett is really around the football a lot this summer.
10. I think the competition at running back is terrific. Jay Ajayi is running with a sense of purpose and power. Corey Clement does so many things so well – he runs, he is the best back in pass protection, he catches the football so well, he moves around the formation, and he doesn't make mental mistakes. Sproles is a weapon. Wendell Smallwood lost a few pounds from the time the spring practices ended until Training Camp started, and he looks very, very good. Donnel Pumphrey, who has added some bulk, has his burst back and has caught everything and Matt Jones brings power and he runs surprisingly well. We'll know a whole lot more when tackling begins.
11. Cameron Johnston has his moments where he really crushes the football, but he's also been inconsistent with his punting technique and has had some misses. Let's see how it works for him in the preseason games, but also know that the Eagles are keeping their eyes open for some competition.
12. A lot of discussion here with officials about the new rules, including the no-use-of-helmet rule, the new catch definition, and kickoffs. Also this: Quarterbacks can slide safely and are down immediately where the first body part touches the ground. Defensive players have to pull back when they see a quarterback diving head first. No touching. And no fumbles, either.
13. Dallas Goedert is going to fit very nicely into the offense as a 1-2 punch with Pro Bowler Zach Ertz at tight end. Goedert has a big body, thick legs, and great hands. He made a back-shoulder catch on Saturday on a pass from Wentz that was really sweet. Can't wait to see what the Eagles do with those two, plus Richard Rodgers, who catches the football better than I expected, at the position.
14. Nobody has really jumped out at safety – although undrafted rookie Jeremy Reaves has been around the football quite a bit, along with Tre Sullivan – but that will change when tackling starts. We'll know pretty soon how the Eagles feel about their depth behind starters Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.
15. Michael Bennett is a really good football player. He's long and he's got great technique and leverage. And for those of you concerned about his place in the locker room, don't be. He and Chris Long look to be pretty good buddies from their days together playing in the NFC West – Long for the Rams and Bennett for the Seahawks.
16. Four days in and the Eagles have no injuries to report. That's the best news of all. Of the players injured, it appears that defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (back) could be out the longest, but the Eagles are still counting on him this season. Don't you think they would have signed someone had there been concern that Jernigan wouldn't be able to help this year? In the meantime, Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu along with veteran Haloti Ngata are taking advantage with the extra practice reps. Defensive end Brandon Graham and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery are watching practice every day and may not be all that far away from being activated. Safety Chris Maragos hopefully can get back into practice in a couple of weeks. Wide receiver Bryce Treggs remains out with a lower-body injury, and his absence is hurting his roster chances with every lost rep.