EYE am starting to believe the Eagles and the NFL just might pull off the salvation of the 2020 season. It won’t be anything like you or EYE anticipated before the pandemic, but it can at least be something with continuity. There may be hiccups here and there, but if all players and staff restrict their personal lives to prescribed guidelines, the MLB model seems to indicate you don’t need a universal bubble to make the thing work.
Ironically the closest thing to a protective bubble will be when the Eagles are on the road, basically only leaving the confines of their hotel to travel to the host stadium. The greater test of beating the pandemic will come during home game weeks, when guys have a lot more opportunity to explore the outside world.
Don’t expect a finished product in the Eagles’ opener against Washington on September 13, however. Both teams will be a bit raggedy and rusty in most phases of the sport. Personnel decisions will have been made with little bits of analytics to go on. Then there are the nagging injury and semi-injury setbacks which due to the late start of physical camp have not had sufficient time to marinate.
The Eagles, for instance, were already in a “take it easy” session on just Day 3 of practice. Part of the reason for that is additional healing time needed for these brand new ailments:
- Dallas Goedert (upper body), day to day.
- Sidney Jones (lower body), day to day.
- Boston Scott (lower body), day to day.
- Miles Sanders (lower body), week to week
You hate to admit it, but the Eagles have a history of bad luck on those “week to week” injuries. Take Carson Wentz’ broken back not that long ago, for example. That’s why it may be difficult to assume Miles Sanders will be fully ready to go on September 13. And that changes the whole picture of how the Eagles offense prepares for that opener.
So the Eagles took it easy at practice to absorb the shock however minor of having key players in physically painful situations. They’ve already lost key defensive players Derek Barnett and Javon Hargrave for at least a few more weeks.
Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.com filed this report from the “easy day” of practice:
“• J.J. Arcega-Whiteside returned today, as did Jason Peters, though as noted already, it was only a walkthrough. Still, when Arcega-Whiteside and DeSean Jackson were on the field with Jalen Reagor, Reagor was lined up in the slot, with Arcega-Whiteside and Jackson on the outside. So I guess in addition to learning the Z and X spots, Reagor is also learning the slot position.
“• Punting was the focal point of practice today, with Cameron Johnston conducting two long punting sessions. During the first session, Johnston was just letting it rip, while in the second session, it looked like he was working on putting different kinds of spins on the ball. I timed the hang time for each of his first punts during the “let it rip” session:
- Missed the time on the first punt, oops.
- 4.07 (Nate Gerry, seemingly the emergency long snapper, was long snapping on this one, and he dribbled the snap back to Johnston)
- 4.60 (Gerry again)
- 4.10 (Gerry again)
- 5.18 (Back to Rick Lovato)
“So what does all that mean? Well, Donnie J’owns used to tell me that anything over 5 seconds of hang time was pretty good.”
During the first punting session, Jalen Reagor get almost every rep. By the final punting session, it was old DeSean Jackson getting tuned up for punt return duty. Something tells me in this age of uncertainty you will be seeing the initial responsibilities of ball handling and decision making on punts being put on veteran shoulders.