With the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens just nine days away, the Philadelphia Eagles suited up in full pads for the second straight session. From injuries to depth chart shuffling and quarterback developments, here’s what you need to know as it’s starting to feel a lot like football season.
The pre-practice injury report remained the same, with wide receiver Deon Cain out with an ankle injury and Derek Barnett (knee), Avonte Maddox (toe) and Haason Reddick (groin) all limited, though each ended up doing more Thursday than they have at any point during training camp thus far.
Two defensive starters went into the injury tent, though, with both then sitting out the rest of practice with what seemed to be minor injuries.
Nakobe Dean was sidelined before any team periods, which created an interesting trickle-down effect on the depth chart. Nicholas Morrow and Christian Elliss worked as the first-team linebackers, but several players rotated through with the second-team defense in part because Philadelphia only has six true off-ball linebackers on the roster. Safety Terrell Edmunds, rookie Sam linebacker Nolan Smith and second-year Sam linebacker Kyron Johnson each lined up as off-ball linebackers next to Shaun Bradley at different times. Good for the team to prepare for its backup plans with injuries such an inevitable part of the sport.
At cornerback, James Bradberry missed the tail end of practice with an unspecified knock of his own. Josh Jobe, not Greedy Williams, was the cornerback subsequently elevated to the first-team defense in his stead. — Bo Wulf
Depth chart movement
The most interesting depth chart development Thursday took place with the second-team offensive line. From left to right, it lined up with Tyler Steen, Dennis Kelly, Brett Toth, Sua Opeta and Jack Driscoll. Steen had previously only taken reps at right guard, while Kelly had split time between left and right tackle and Opeta had mainly lined up at left guard. Cross-training Steen so early is interesting and something of a departure for offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who has traditionally wanted young players to specialize in one position early in the summer. Given Cam Jurgens’ strong start to camp thus far, it’s hard not to read this as the beginning of the end of the right guard competition.
On defense, the shuffling at safety continued, with Reed Blankenship again spending all his time with the first-team defense while paired with a rotating group. Edmunds, K’Von Wallace and, for the first time this summer, Sydney Brown comprised the participants in that game of musical chairs. Brown working with the starters is a good sign for the possibility that he will be involved in the defense early on, though Wallace and Edmunds have had their moments too.
Meanwhile, another rookie in the secondary made an impression, as Kelee Ringo took his first reps with the second-team defense in what may have just been an injury trickle-down. But he made the best play of the day by a cornerback on a designated third-and-goal from the 10-yard line against the first-team offense. DeVonta Smith ran an out route to the front pylon, but Ringo broke quickly and got his hands on the ball first, nearly recording the first interception of Jalen Hurts thus far at camp. — Wulf
Jalen Hurts begins Year 4, but it won’t be documented on Netflix
Two sessions of big-boy one-on-ones
You know it’s a good day of practice when we get two sessions of one-on-ones. Some highlights:
• In my opinion, the most significant development of one-on-ones so far has been how impressive Jurgens has looked. On Thursday, he held up well against Fletcher Cox and later took a rep at center, handling Noah Elliss’ power push. It’s only been five practices, but Vince-Carter-its-over-dot-gif.
• Jalen Carter has sort of underwhelmed in one-on-ones relative to expectations. On Thursday, he did well to move Opeta deep into the pocket with a power rush but was then handled by Toth at center (after another low snap). In a rematch, Opeta got the better of Carter as the rookie slipped near the top of his rush. Then came the kind of flash we might have expected to see when Carter bowled through Trevor Reid.
• Jordan Davis only took one rep on Thursday, but it was a good one as he overwhelmed Toth up the middle.
• Nolan Smith has been the most fun rusher to watch thus far, as you might expect given his skill set and the lower-roster competition. His first rush was a successful speed move to the outside against Steen (at left tackle) before he busted out a nifty push-pull move against Reid for a “wow” rep. Reid did stone him on an earlier rep.
• Beyond his matchup with Nolan Smith, Steen had another pair of tough reps with some sloppy technique that allowed Tarron Jackson to get into his chest (at left tackle) before Marlon Tuipulotu then quickly swam past him at right guard. Steen did hold up well against an inside-rushing Barnett. After the second period of one-on-ones ended, Landon Dickerson spent some time talking through technique points with Steen.
• Tuipulotu also beat Kelly (lined up at left guard) and Toth. He looks like he has the inside track for the fifth defensive tackle job at the moment.
• Reddick took his first rep of camp and bent the edge around Driscoll (at right tackle) well enough that he was able to knock the ball loose from the stand-in quarterback.
Why Haason Reddick feels he’s one of NFL’s ‘most elite’ edge rushers
• Janarius Robinson has been an interesting watch thus far, with some splash plays and some periods of invisibility. In one-on-ones, he had perhaps the best rush of the day when his spin move caught Roderick Johnson (at right tackle) off guard for a would-be sack.
• Perhaps more demonstrative than Robinson’s best rep was Kyron Johnson knocking over Chim Okorafor with a bull rush through his chest. — Wulf
Consistency from Jalen Hurts
Hurts didn’t have as many standout plays as in previous sessions, but this was another good practice. It wasn’t outstanding, but in a previous summer, this might have been one of his best days. That’s a good sign — when the floor is so high that even a good day seems like the standard. And it’s in line with Nick Sirianni’s biggest takeaway from Hurts’ summer: Consistency.
“You’re going to make splash plays in camp, you’re going to make plays you want back in camp … but I just see his consistency over and over again,” Sirianni said. “He’s made some big-time plays you’ve seen, but it’s really been his consistency. I think he’s operating at a really high level within the offense, just understanding why we do things and how we do things. He’s really like a coach on the field.”
Eagles camp report: Jalen Hurts continues to excel, Kelly Green uniforms unveiled
The Hurts-Dallas Goedert connection was on display Thursday (more on that below). There was one pass on a nice play design to D’Andre Swift that Hurts underthrew and likely would have wanted back.
If Hurts is consistent, Marcus Mariota has been inconsistent. Some of that might be the byproduct of learning a new system, and some of it might be that he’s not as good of a passer as Hurts. Mariota had a pass in seven-on-seven Thursday that looked like it was intended for someone out of bounds rather than on the field. There were other reps when he did as needed. Bo actually remarked to me that he thought this was one of Mariota’s better days.
“There’s been good plays and there’s also been some bad ones, and that’s all right — I’m growing every single day,” Mariota said when asked about his first week. “I’m just kind of learning in this system and trying to be able to command and just own it at the line of scrimmage. And that’s what practice is for, to be able to make mistakes so when you get to the games you feel confident in what you’re doing.” — Zach Berman
Breakout season for Dallas Goedert?
Every day I watch Goedert and think, “He’s going to have a big season,” but maybe never more than Thursday. Goedert made a few catches that jumped out as seemingly easy completions, but he was making an aggressive play on the ball or running open in such a way that few tight ends can. One tight-window completion was made possible because Goedert extended in traffic to haul in the grab. I’m not sure how a player who’s considered one of the NFL’s top tight ends in the league can be underrated, although Goedert has never had a 1,000-yard season and never made a Pro Bowl. (I’d say Goedert and Josh Sweat are the two most underrated Eagles relative to their standing in the league. Sweat also had a good session on Thursday.)
If Goedert remains healthy this season, a Pro Bowl bid is likely and a 1,000-yard campaign is possible — although there are only so many targets to go around, so that might be a lofty benchmark. — Berman
A running back to watch
It’s worth mentioning Trey Sermon here. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias because I made a note to watch him, but he continues mixing in with the top unit and Sirianni boasts about him whenever he gets the chance. He looks the part (in practice at least) and was even split wide at one point on Thursday. A 2021 third-round pick who was a big-time college runner, Sermon is a player the Eagles clearly like considering they carried him on the roster all of last season. Maybe they showcase him this summer or maybe he jumps one of the more established running backs on the roster. Just remember his name, because he’s certainly in the mix in a crowded group that appears now to be a committee. (Newcomer Swift has received most of the attention in camp, and I still expect him to be the No. 1 back, but the Eagles are mixing different running backs in with the top unit.)
“We really liked Trey coming out of Ohio State,” Sirianni said. “We were really excited to get him when we got him last year. … We saw it every day in practice, the consistency, the athleticism, his quickness, his physicality. He’s a big, good-looking guy. And we really value that style of run he has. … He showed a lot to us last year.”
Also of note at running back: Rashaad Penny working with the kickoff returners. This does not mean he’ll be the kickoff returner — A.J. Brown was in the mix at practice and he assuredly will not return kicks — but I point out Penny because this is a role where he excelled at San Diego State. He had seven touchdowns and averaged more than 30 yards per return in college. He only had 11 kickoff returns in five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
“I’ve always had an interest in kickoff return,” Penny said. “I’m always back there catching them. It’s just whether they put me in or not. I always enjoyed it. I felt if I get lighter and get back to my college weight, I’ll feel comfortable being back out there.” — Berman
(Top photo of Trey Sermon: Matt Rourke / Associated Press)