Eagles training camp observations: Hurts keeps hitting Brown originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles had their final practice on Wednesday before the preseason opener on Friday.
Starters will play one or two series, head coach Nick Sirianni said. So perhaps that’s why the Eagles were not in full pads for their hour-long “green” practice this morning.
Day 10 of practice was moved up an hour to beat the heat and it wasn’t nearly as hot as it was on Tuesday.
To the observations:
1. As always, housekeeping:
• Jason Kelce had elbow surgery on Tuesday, but the team expects him to be back for Week 1, a league source told NBC Sports Philadelphia. Head coach Nick Sirianni on Wednesday wouldn’t give a timeline for Kelce’s return but did point out Kelce’s consecutive starts streak is at 122 games and if it’s close, hinted that No. 62 will play. In Kelce’s absence, rookie Cam Jurgens will get all the first-team reps at center.
• Jordan Mailata (concussion) and Andre Dillard (concussion) were listed as limited participants but were practicing in team drills. It looks like there’s a good chance one or both will be ready for the game on Friday.
• The new addition to the injury report was safety Anthony Harris, who was held out after having a tooth extracted. In his place, the Eagles rotated at the safety spot next to Marcus Epps. K’Von Wallace, Andre Chachere and Reed Blankenship all got reps.
• Here’s the full list of Eagles who did not practice: Grant Calcaterra (hamstring), Le’Raven Clark (hamstring), Kenneth Gainwell (hip), Harris (tooth), John Hightower (groin), Kelce (elbow), Jimmy Moreland (ankle), Boston Scott (concussion), DeVonta Smith (groin), Jaquiski Tartt (personal reasons), Kary Vincent (groin), Greg Ward (toe), Keric Wheatfall (hamstring).
1a. The Eagles are planning to play Jalen Hurts and the starters a little bit on Friday. The good news is that it looks like Mailata and/or Dillard will be back in time. If not, that would mean playing Kayode Awosika on Hurts’ blindside. Even without Kelce, the Eagles’ line will still be pretty good. Landon Dickerson wasn’t taking team reps on Wednesday, which meant Sua Opeta was in at left guard. But he’s a solid backup. The Eagles can feel relatively safe putting Hurts out there.
2. The highlight of this short practice on Wednesday was a deep ball from Hurts to (who else) A.J. Brown deep down the right sideline in 7-on-7s for a touchdown in the end zone. This was an impressive back-shoulder completion over James Bradberry in coverage.
On Tuesday, Brown talked about his “late hands” and how he works on not tipping to the DB that the ball is in the air. Even though this was a back-shoulder throw, it was clear Bradberry didn’t know it was in the air.
“I keep my arms swinging,” Brown said. “He doesn’t know where the’s ball’s at but I do. I just try to stay calm, relax and at the last minute I throw my hands up and make a catch.”
During training camp, Brown has been targeted way more than any other receiver. Even before Smith was out with a groin injury, Brown was getting way more targets. That’s been a clear theme.
A fun battle during this camp has been Brown vs. Darius Slay. They each made plays in this practice. Early in practice, Slay was able to jump a pass and get a PBU. A little later in the hour, Brown came back strong to a pass and beat Slay to the spot.
3. Hurts had one of his better days of the summer. He hit some deep balls and worked it around to a few different receivers.
4. Tight end Noah Togiai had an impressive one-handed diving catch on a pass from Gardner Minshew during team drills. Togiai has had a few good practices in a row now.
5. Jalen Reagor is having a decent training camp. He’s primarily been working with the second team but gets first-team reps from time to time because of the absence of Smith. In the first period of practice, Reagor made a nice grab on an out route after gaining a step on Slay. Reagor had to extend to get both hands on the ball and brought it in.
6. Zach Pascal doesn’t look like a guy who threw up 50 times and lost 16 pounds because of food poisoning just a couple weeks ago. Pascal looks strong and made a couple impressive high-point catches at the goal line during this session. He caught one from Hurts in 7-on-7s with Marcus Epps in coverage and he caught another one over Mac McCain III while working with the second team.
Pascal has 15 career touchdown catches and might be able to help the Eagles in the red zone.
7. Before practice, when asked about Minshew’s summer, Sirianni pointed out that Minshew has been victimized by a few interceptions that haven’t been entirely his fault. Happened again on Wednesday. This time, Minshew’s pass popped off receiver Lance Lenoir and into the hands of linebacker Christian Ellis. The pass was a touch behind Lenoir but it’s one he needs to bring in.
To Minshew’s credit, he did have one of his best passes of training camp. With big Marvin Wilson in his face, Mishew delivered a strike down the middle of the field to streaking tight end Jack Stoll.
Another note on Minshew: Third-stringer Reid Sinnett took another series of second-team reps from him. That also happened on Sunday night at the Linc.
8. All 5-foot-8, 173 pounds of Britain Covey was sent flying through the air after a big shoulder from cornerback Zech McPhearson. Give Covey credit, though, he held on to the catch, popped up and then came back to catch the ball on the very next play.
9. We saw one pony package play in this practice. Hurts was in shotgun flanked by Miles Sanders and Jason Huntley. This play ended up being a tackle for loss, but the idea is there.
Reminder: Gainwell is still on the shelf with a hip injury. We haven’t seen many two-back formations from the Eagles but it could become a weapon for them, especially given the receiving ability with their backs.
10. A few other defensive notes from Wednesday:
• Haason Reddick had what probably should’ve been considered a sack in the first 11-on-11 drill. The play wasn’t whistled dead but he was there.
• Tarron Jackson had a sack coming off the right end a little later. Jackson has been flashing a bit.
• McPhearson had a great play, sticking with Lenoir on a crosser and diving across his body to breakup the pass with his left hand.
• Josh Sweat blew up that play in the pony set for a TFL.
• Sweat and Brandon Graham were called for defensive offsides penalties on Wednesday. On the second one, I heard a kid behind me scream, “Got eeem!” after the O-line drew the penalty. Yes, they did.
Stupid Observation of the Day: I guess I’ve gotten so used to Mailata over the last few years that I sometimes forget how big he is. That is until he was standing next to Jordan Davis after practice on Wednesday. Everyone has marveled at Davis’s size all summer and then there’s Mailata, noticeably bigger.
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