FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Wednesday marked the final joint practice with the New York Jets as well as the final open practice of Training Camp. The Eagles will have a walkthrough on Thursday before Friday's preseason finale at MetLife Stadium (7:30 PM, NBC10 local).
Head Coach Nick Sirianni addressed reporters before practice. Here were the highlights:
• The left tackle battle continues between Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard, who just came back from a knee injury.
"I thought Andre was having a great camp. I think Jordan is having a great camp. It is just Jordan has been able to go the whole camp, where Andre had a setback," Sirianni said. "That's one that still needs to play itself out. But with where they are now, it's just because of the injury situation, and Jordan will stay with the ones for today."
• There is no determination regarding playing time for the starters on Friday.
"Today is going to be good work. We are expecting to come out here today and have really good work, and then just every guy is a case-by-case scenario," Sirianni said.
Sirianni added that all coaches are in "brand-new territory" with the bye week prior to the regular-season opener in Atlanta on September 12.
"We don't plan on taking two weeks off before Atlanta. We plan on working our tails off that week. We know what the week is going to look like before Atlanta. Very similar to a week that's going to look like in Week 4 or Week 7. That week is spelled out," Sirianni said.
"We're going to work our tails off that two weeks before. So, we are going to work hard in that time frame. So, again, it's all case by case of what we are going to do. Again, this is great. I love this work that we're getting, and with these two joint practices and the three preseason games, to me, that's what, seven preseason games in my mind of how we've been working."
• On the injury front, there is no timetable for center Landon Dickerson and safety Rodney McLeod. The Eagles will need to decide whether to put them on the active 53-player roster or place them on the Reserve list, sidelining them for the first six weeks of the season.
"That's what we're talking through with the doctors and the medical staff and the training staff. So, yes, those are important discussions that we have to have and that we have been having," Sirianni said.
As for the action on the field Wednesday ...
• For individual drills, I went over to watch the defensive line work. Coaches had players working on various rush moves against a solo bag, but more importantly, they had to finish with a "strip sack" at the end of the play. Just another example of the emphasis being placed on creating takeaways on that side of the ball. It is constantly preached day after day after day on the practice field. – Fran Duffy
• I get the pleasure of watching the offensive line vs. defensive line 1-on-1s. Jets defensive lineman Bryce Huff tried to bull rush left tackle Jordan Mailata and the Australian was having none of it. Mailata quickly put the brakes on that train. Nate Herbig, working at center, took Folorunso Fatusaki to the ground after the defensive lineman slipped. They went for a rematch and Herbig anchored to hold the Jets' defender in place.
At the end of the session, the Eagles worked on blocking two-man games and Le'Raven Clark and Brett Toth, working at tackle and guard respectively, cleanly handled linemen Tanzel Smart and John Franklin-Myers. Herbig had another good rep in this portion against defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall. – Chris McPherson
• I stayed in the end zone as 1-on-1 drills began to watch the wide receivers take on New York's cornerbacks, and the star of the show was DeVonta Smith. The first-round pick is so silky smooth as an athlete, and he absolutely carved up two Jets corners on a slant and a corner route for touchdowns in the red zone. Smith is a nasty route runner, and his releases keep defenders off balance on every rep. John Hightower had a nice catch on a jump ball along the sideline as well, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside pulled in a nice corner route for a touchdown as well. Arcega-Whiteside continues to show how much he's improved as a route runner. – Fran
• Rookie Kenny Gainwell was used extensively in the pass game during his brief time at Memphis, and the Eagles want to find creative ways to utilize his talents. While taking in the linebacker/running back 1-on-1 drills, I couldn't help but note the double move Gainwell put on a Jets defender before coming up with the nice catch. In this drill, tight end Dallas Goedert also did a beautiful job plucking the ball away from the opposing linebacker. – Ben Fennell
• Wednesday was a heavy red zone day, starting with a high red zone period to kick off team drills. Watching the Eagles' offense against the Jets' defense, there was a big emphasis on the screen game, even in the confined spaces of the red zone. The Eagles' athletic offensive line is critical to the success of the screen game and Head Coach Nick Sirianni has to feel good with this veteran-laden group. In this period, the Eagles utilized power, getting tackles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata to pull. Perimeter blocking is essential and tight end Dallas Goedert had a great block on a linebacker. But, above all, I'm still in awe watching Jason Kelce, one of the best ever to do it in an Eagles uniform. In his 11th season, Kelce is still a freak show with his movement skills. On a screen to Greg Ward, Kelce spun around at full speed and continued as if nothing happened. – Ben
• At the same time, the first team period is underway on the defensive side. After a couple of run stuffs by Eagles linebackers, the defensive line gets in on the action with a "sack" of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. Both Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave exploded into the backfield, flying right by the shoulders of Wilson before he delivered the throw. This defensive front is fun to watch. Later in the drill, Andrew Adams (who finished practice with an interception in the two-minute drill yesterday) had a nice hit at the catch point on a completion along the left side. Adams is around the ball a lot. – Fran
• Another red zone session is underway with the defensive side. Darius Slay makes a couple of plays early with the first-team unit, wrapping up the ball carrier inside behind the line of scrimmage on the first snap and netting a pass breakup in the end zone later. Hargrave absolutely blew up the play in between, bench pressing the guard across from him into the backfield and forcing Wilson to break the pocket and eventually take a coverage sack. The first unit left the field briefly and returned for more of the same. Brandon Graham had a "sack" late in the drill and rookie corner Zech McPhearson also got in on the action with a near interception in the end zone. – Fran
• A third red zone period takes place on the opposite side of the field down on the goal line, and it appeared as if this period was live to the ground, because the energy level was very high.
The first-team defense took six snaps in this period, and they kept the Jets out of the end zone on each of the first four. On first down, Brandon Graham made a tackle to the ground right at the line of scrimmage. Linemen on each side got into some shoving matches afterward, but things quickly settled. On the next play, Adams knifed into the backfield, leading the charge on another tackle for loss. Cox, Hargrave, and Graham were all in on the scrum as well. This was a high-energy period. On third down, New York smartly decided to move the pocket, rolling Wilson out towards the right, away from the rush. Unfortunately for the Jets' running back on the play, he was left to feel the wrath of Fletcher Cox, who bowled right through him in pursuit of the play.
The Jets' second unit took the field and scored twice on two plays, but when the defensive starters came back, it was more of the same. Eric Wilson made a sound tackle short of the goal line on first down. The defense was feeling itself at this point. – Fran
• It's time for the final team period, featuring a scrimmage-like atmosphere where the offense had 45 seconds to score down eight points just outside the red zone. The Eagles' offense was up first. Kenny Gainwell had a catch in the flat on first down. Quez Watkins made a ridiculous tip-toe grab in the end zone along the right sideline on second down. Only problem? The refs called Jalen Hurts down for a sack. No problem. Two plays later, on fourth-and-short, Hurts hit a wide-open Greg Ward over the middle, who then juked Jets safety Sharrod Neasman and was untouched going into the end zone. On the 2-point conversion, Hurts bought time with his legs, kept his eyes up, and fired a dart into the back of the end zone where DeVonta Smith made a tie-toe grab to tie the game! To round out the offense, Joe Flacco made a pinpoint throw to tight end Jack Stoll in the end zone to get points for the second-team unit as well. – Ben
• On defense, Avonte Maddox "tackled" a quick completion, keeping the ball carrier in bounds to keep the clock rolling. After another short completion underneath on second down, the defense forced an incompletion on third down. This brought up the all-important fourth down, and Javon Hargrave came up with the sack to wrap up the starters' day.
When the second team came on, they were able to get a win as well. New York moved the ball a little bit, inching their way closer to the end zone, but after an incompletion on the goal line and a pass breakup from safety Andrew Adams in the end zone, the Jets faced a "got-to-have-it" situation. This time, it was Eagles defensive end Matt Leo who came up with the sack to end the day. Two drives and two wins for the defense in that session. – Fran