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.