The Eagles finished minicamp on a high note! Training Camp is right around the corner, stay tuned...
The Eagles held their final practice of the spring and then a conditioning test before letting the players out until late July for Training Camp. Here's what Dave Spadaro, Chris McPherson, and Fran Duffy witnessed from the last taste of Eagles football for over a month.
LB Nathan Gerry Finishes Strong
Rookie linebacker Nathan Gerry had an interception and couple of pass breakups in the open field to close out the mandatory minicamp and the spring program, and he's hopeful to take that positive momentum from the last day – his last few weeks, really – into the next phase of his professional career.
"Just being able to end the day and camp on a positive note for me is really great," Gerry said. "I've felt more comfortable every day at linebacker after moving from safety in college. My goal has been to make fewer mistakes than I made the day before and I've done that."
Gerry's leaping interception in the middle of the field came on a pass thrown by Matt McGloin. The former safety stepped in front of a crossing route, climbed the ladder, and came away with the pass. A couple of plays later, the former Cornhusker jumped a slant route and nearly took it back to the house, but let his second interception of the day slip through his fingers. This is not shocking to see at all based off his college tape. He was a very smart safety who showed an understanding of route concepts and playing in zone coverage when he was in school, so it's not surprising to see that carry over early on in his NFL career.
Gerry watched film on Wednesday night of himself from the post-draft period and compared it to recent film, and he said the difference was "night and day. I can't even believe that was me early on."
"A lot of the little things matter and you have to detail your work," said Gerry, who is up to 230 pounds from the 212 pounds at which he weighed when he reported to the Eagles. "I'm in the playbook all the time and it's paying off. I think I'm a quick learner and I think one of the reasons I think I can play so fast on the field is that, not only do I know what I'm doing, I know what everybody around me is doing. It's still a lot of work ahead of me, but to finish the way I did, I'm excited."
Gerry said the extra weight has not slowed him down, and he's not going to spend the time between now and July 24, when the rookies report to the NovaCare Complex for Training Camp, relaxing. He's going to keep studying, keep working out, and keep improving his game.
"I'm not the kind of guy to sit around because I feel like every day I do that, I'm another step behind," Gerry said. "I'm going to go home and spend a lot of time with my family and enjoy them, but I have a lot of work to do in my playbook and to keep working on my conditioning. I'm going to stay quick and fast, but the extra weight has been good for me. I was at 225 pounds at my Pro Day (at Nebraska) and I think that turned a lot of heads. I hold it well. It feels good." - DS and FD
WR Bryce Treggs Taking The Long View
Bryce Treggs had a limited contribution in the offense last season after the Eagles claimed him off of waivers from San Francisco, and he knows the Eagles have upgraded the group in the offseason. But that is not stopping Treggs from making a strong push for the 53-man roster.
"I am just trying to get myself in position where I take advantage of every chance I get," Treggs said. "So when the ball is thrown to me, my job is to catch it. I feel a lot more comfortable in the offense now. I know where to go. I know Carson (Wentz). I feel like my OTAs have gone pretty well. I just have to keep working."
How many receivers do the Eagles keep? They usually keep five, but the Eagles have a lot of young talent at the position, so could the team keep six receivers?
"I'm not worried about the numbers," Treggs said. "I just have to keep getting better and I will be where I want to be. I can only control what I do." - DS
Offensive Overview From TE Zach Ertz
After a series of Organized Team Activities and the mandatory minicamp, tight end Zach Ertz thinks the offense is far, far ahead of where it was at the end of the 2016 season. It all starts, of course, at quarterback.
"Having Carson back there, him knowing that he's the guy, that makes a huge difference," Ertz said. "We have so much confidence in him and we've developed great chemistry. Bringing in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith helps our wide receivers. We have LeGarrette (Blount) back there at running back. We have improved a lot, I think. But we also know that we have so much more work ahead of us. The best thing is that we can use this time wisely and get fresh and ready for Training Camp and the grind. It's going to be a lot of fun." - DS
Thirteen Other Observations Including Some Interesting Depth Chart Notes
1. Before practice began, Jason Peters was spending extra time off to the side with former defensive lineman-turned-offensive tackle Taylor Hart. The All-Pro blocker was giving the former fifth-round pick from Oregon pointers on his pass set. Peters is consistently one of the most active "teachers" among the veterans on the roster, taking time every offseason to coach up younger players at his position, and Hart appears to be one of his new pupils. - FD
2. In "depth chart" news, it appears as if second-year lineman Isaac Seumalo was getting reps with the first team at left guard on Thursday. Seumalo spent a few plays with the starters at center on Wednesday but has spent a majority of this offseason at the guard spot. Cornerback Aaron Grymes, a player I've written about seemingly every day whenever I've been at practice, slid into the first-team nickel defense as the slot cornerback. Jalen Mills, who had been sliding inside for most of the spring, and Patrick Robinson were the outside corners on the first-team unit. - FD
3. In the first 11-on-11 session of the day, the offense was down on the goal line and Seumalo got a rep at center. The ball was snapped high over Carson Wentz's head, but the second-year quarterback deftly plucked it from the air and showed off his quick release, getting the ball into the chest of tight end Zach Ertz for a diving touchdown on a quick slant route. It was the first of many connections between Wentz and Ertz on the day. - FD
4. A few plays later, Ertz was once again the target on another slant route, but Mills stepped in front of the pass and knocked it to the ground. If I had to make a list of 10 players who have consistently stood out the most to me this spring, Mills would likely be on that list. - FD
5. Linebacker Jordan Hicks made a pass breakup on a short out route throw to Ertz from quarterback Matt McGloin during a 7-on-7 drill. Defensive end Brandon Graham said that Hicks looks much quicker than he did last year. Hicks is happy to hear that because with a full offseason to train instead of rehab he's stronger and added some bulk. Hicks led all linebackers with five interceptions in 2016. - CM
6. Another player on that hypothetical list would absolutely be Nelson Agholor. The third-year wideout was the target of Wentz's next throw down in the red zone on an in-breaking route, a pass that was perfectly placed high and away from Grymes in the slot. Agholor went up and snagged the throw for a touchdown 5 yards deep in the end zone. A couple of periods later, Wentz threaded the needle with pinpoint accuracy between multiple defenders to Agholor on a dig route over the middle for a first down. Head coach Doug Pederson wanted the players to finish the spring strong, and Wentz did just that with a few really impressive days of practice in a row to conclude the offseason workouts. - FD
7. Cornerback Rasul Douglas, working with the second-team defense opposite C.J. Smith, defended a back-shoulder throw to David Watford in the same goal line period. The rookie reacted well on that throw and was challenged a number of times throughout the day, drawing a flag from the refs in attendance on a pass later in practice for holding Alshon Jeffery down the left sideline. I've enjoyed watching Douglas compete over the last few weeks with every receiver he's matched up against. - FD
8. A lot of reports coming out of OTAs and minicamp rave about Douglas, but don't forget about veteran Patrick Robinson. During a 7-on-7 drill, Robinson executed perfect press coverage against Torrey Smith to keep the receiver from getting off the line. - CM
9. The action moved away from the goal line and out toward midfield, and with the second-team units going on both sides, quarterback Matt McGloin threw a deep ball that safety Jaylen Watkins nearly secured for an over-the-shoulder interception. Away from the play, Terrance Brooks smartly covered a crosser from the tight end, drawing praise from defensive backs coach Cory Undlin for jumping the route. - FD
10. During individual drills, players worked on fielding kickoffs out of the JUGS machine. It was quite a sight seeing the 6-4, 322-pound tackle Dillon Gordon joining the group and catching the ball with ease. Of course, Gordon was a tight end at LSU, although he was primarily used as a blocker. He had seven catches in college. Gordon has been used as a fullback by the Eagles in the spring. - CM
11. The Voice of the Eagles Merrill Reese was in attendance and is already warming up the pipes for the 2017 season which will be his 41st in the booth. During the group install, Reese was practicing his "Wentz under center" and "Sproles in the backfield." - CM
12. A little fun for the final minicamp practice or a preview of something watch during the season? During the group install, which worked on red zone offense, Sproles took a pitch from Wentz and threw to tight end Trey Burton in the back right corner of the end zone. The pass, unfortunately, led Burton out of the end zone and was incomplete. - CM
13. A sign that Fran Duffy grew up in the Andy Reid era is how excited he got when he saw the current Eagles team practice the shovel pass during the group install. - CM