Takeaways from the Eagles' padded practices

Takeaways from the Eagles' padded practices


Takeaways from the Eagles' padded practices


Let me give you the short version—and man, are these practices short in duration! You’d almost think the coaches are limiting practice time as if to limit injuries… what a novel idea!

What you’re looking for at this stage is real-time conditioning and simulated game-pressure techniques…

Fourth-round rookie cornerback Zech McPhearson has been constantly around the ball so far and is the EYE nominee for TC MVP.  He’s been making the most of a golden opportunity.   He had a pair of early pass breakups against QBs Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens in 11-on-11 drills. He was really impressive on the breakup against Mullens as he physically dominated fellow rookie Jhamon Ausbon on a corner route. The offense wanted a pass interference call, but the sideline judge was right there and didn’t throw any laundry. Following practice, McPhearson said if there is no flag, there’s no problem.

Second-year wideout Quez Watkins has returned with a bang.  He seems to get open with regularity, especially across the middle of the field. He had a nice gainer on a slant route, as Flacco threw a dart to him across the middle.  In 1-on-1 work, Watkins made a nice move on an out route to break free from cornerback Craig James. Watkins catches the ball cleanly on almost every rep.

Pads didn’t make a difference in the battle for the left tackle job on Tuesday. Once again, Jordan Mailata looked excellent, while Andre Dillard struggled in the team and 1-on-1 drills. Mailata received the first-team reps on Tuesday and held DEs Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat in check.

Dillard struggled against Sweat in second-team drills. He also lost to hybrid defensive lineman Milton Williams in a 1-on-1 rep. Dillard’s strengths are his footwork and athleticism, but neither helped him. The added physicality of pads didn’t make him better. In fact, Dillard went to the ground a few times. Towards the end of practice, Dillard had his hand checked by a trainer as Casey Tucker took second-team offensive line reps.

To this point, TE Zach Ertz has outplayed tag-team partner Dallas Goedert in the passing game, and it seems like angry Ertz is a very good Ertz in training camp. Ertz had a rough year last season, and while most would assume he’d be lost in the shuffle with Hurts at QB and Goedert likely to get a promotion, the three-time Pro Bowl playmaker is making the most of his reps.

No one’s stock has been boosted more than second-year running back Jason Huntley. It seems like at least once every practice Huntley is breaking away for a big gain on the ground. That’s all well and good for a speedster without pads, but in padded practices, Huntley made his most impressive runs of camp thus far. On one, Huntley took a handoff against the second-team defense, made a quick cut outside and then accelerated upfield untouched for a 60-yard touchdown.

Backup TE hopeful Tyree Jackson caught a handful of passes in team drills. He took contact well as Mullens and Flacco targeted him across the middle of the field. While he didn’t pick up a lot of yardage after the catch, Jackson caught the ball cleanly and was consistently open after running quality routes.

WR Travis Fulgham had a nice contact day, especially in 1-on-1 coverage drills. First, Fulgham beat CB Darius Slay on a “go” route deep down the field. On the next rep, Fulgham forced a holding penalty on Slay on an out route. Fulgham also made a nice over-the-middle catch off a Hurts pass in 11-on-11 period.

DT Raequan Williams is competing for a deep-depth line spot and he stood out on Tuesday. Williams batted two of Flacco’s passes at the line during 11-on-11 work. Williams and T.Y. McGill have been regular batted pass producers in camp.

RB Kenny Gainwell is starting to build some momentum, especially as a receiver out of the backfield. During 11-on-11 drills, Gainwell caught a pass in the flat, made a defender miss with a juke move and then turned upfield for a 15-20-yard gain.

CB Michael Jacquet had an impressive breakup on a comeback route by WR John Hightower in 1-on-1 drills.

QB Jalen Hurts’ best throws of the day were made with wide-open receivers. First, he hit slot receiver Greg Ward for a 20-yard gain across the middle with a great ball that hit the WR in stride. Then, he made a downfield throw to Ertz for another big gain on the sideline. Wide-open passes can sometimes be difficult with pressure in the pocket, which Hurts felt regularly, so we should praise those kinds of plays.

RB Miles Sanders had a brutal drop in 11-on-11 two-minute period. Hurts was a bit late with the ball, but Sanders let the ball hit his numbers and bounce off his chest.

The SAM linebacker role is likely to be a hybrid pass-rusher spot for the Eagles. Genard Avery made a nice push toward Mullens on a rush and forced a sack-fumble on the play. Mullens has struggled with snaps and sack-fumbles over the past two practices.

Undrafted G Kayode Awosika got the better of DE Brandon Graham on a 1-on-1 pass rush rep. The veteran made him battle again on the next rep, which was more even than a clear win for either side. Graham, especially when it comes to interior rush 1-on-1, is a dominant force in drills. Awosika is a dark horse for the ninth or 10th job on the offensive line.


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