Eagles training camp 2022 observations, Day 2: Defense wins

·7 min read

Eagles training camp observations: Defense wins Day 2 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles were back on the practice field on Friday morning for their second practice of training camp.

It was an overcast day and it felt nice and cool in the shade. No doubt that when the pads go on next week, it’ll be 100 degrees.

After the first practice of training camp lasted just 58 minutes, this one was slightly longer. The full practice was 1:15 but the last 5 minutes were for a developmental period of younger players fighting to stick in the NFL.

To the observations:

1. As always, we’ll start with a few housekeeping items. Three players remain on PUP: Tyree Jackson, Brett Toth and Richard Rodgers. So they’re not practicing.

The only other two players who weren’t practicing on Friday were receivers Zach Pascal (illness) and Keric Wheatfall (COVID progression). Pascal tweeted on Thursday about food poisoning, which can take a lot out of anyone. The good news is that Pascal was at least able to be on the field as a spectator on Friday:

Jason Kelce (COVID progression) and Fletcher Cox (COVID progression) were limited participants in practice and did not participate in team drills. After Wednesday’s practice, Cox said he was feeling better. After Friday’s practice, Kelce said the same.

2. The offense looked very crisp on Day 1 of training camp and got the better of the defense. Roles were reversed on Friday.

Jalen Hurts didn’t have a good day. He wasn’t alone. The entire offense, aside from a few bright moments, wasn’t great.

“It didn’t look good,” said Kelce, who was a spectator as he gets back from COVID. “I’d have to go back and look at it more on tape. I think that the defense probably feels that we got the better of them the first day. I think they came out here with a lot of energy and effort today. And that’s what you want to see. You want to see sides of the ball competing against each other.”

This happens. Nothing to get overly concerned about. Now, if the offense looks bad for a week straight, then it’s a problem. But there are going to be some ups and downs throughout camp.

As much as you can say the Eagles’ offense struggled on Friday — and it did — also give credit to Jonathan Gannon’s defense. They made plays.

3. One of the biggest bright spots on the day for the offense was when Hurts rolled right and hit A.J. Brown on a beautifully placed ball about 25 yards downfield during an 11-on-11 period. Looks like those two best friends are getting on the same page early.

4. The best defensive play of the day came during 11-on-11s, when Avonte Maddox made a leaping interception on a underthrown pass from Hurts attempted for Dallas Goedert. The throw wasn’t great but don’t take anything away from the play on defense.

“I know he’s only 5-9 but he jumped like he was 6-5,” Goedert said of his good friend Maddox. “He got up there. It was a great play by him. He kind of baited the quarterback, took a couple steps up. I think he was guessing that I was going to be running a corner and he just made a good play on the ball.”

Another nice play from a DB came from James Bradberry, who broke up a pass intended for Jalen Reagor.

5. A few offensive depth chart notes:

Isaac Seumalo is clearly the Eagles’ right guard. The first two days, he has been taking the first reps at right guard and then Sua Opeta rotates in. If this was a competition, I’d imagine we’d see Jack Driscoll get those chances. Driscoll is working as the second team right tackle.

Miles Sanders worked exclusively with the second team on Friday, while Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell split reps with the starters. Don’t make too much of this just yet, but it’s something to monitor.

6. Defensive depth chart notes:

• The Eagles are still mixing and matching odd and even fronts. Without Cox, the Eagles 3-4 look had second-year DT Marlon Tuipulotu at nose, surrounded by Milton Williams and Javon Hargrave as the ends, while Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat were the top outside backers. Both of them have also been featured as standup rushers in a 4-3 alignment.

• The top two linebackers on Friday were T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White. White made his first big play of training camp when he exploded into the backfield to pick up a “sack” against Hurts. Davion Taylor has been mixing in with the first team, while Nakobe Dean has been working with the second team.

Anthony Harris returned to team drills on Friday and was the starting safety next to Marcus Epps. Harris didn’t take all the first-team reps, though, and was rotating with K’Von Wallace. Jaquiski Tartt and Andre Chachere were the second-team safeties. Chachere jumped a Gardner Minshew pass attempted for Noah Togiai for his first pick of the summer.

7. Keep an eye on cornerback Mac McCain III. The Eagles know their top cornerbacks are Darius Slay, Bradberry and Avonte Maddox but they have nine young corners fighting for just a few spots. Zech McPhearson is the next guy and he has been working with the second team. But I was a little surprised to see McCain join him as the other second-team outside cornerback. (Josiah Scott is the second-team nickel).

McCain has made some plays early in this camp. McCain had one PBU on Friday that resulted in an interception from Davion Taylor and he had another tough one against Quez Watkins later in the practice. McCain has a chance to win a job.

8. Speaking of Taylor, he’s off to a solid start. Taylor had three notable plays on Friday. One was the INT off Minshew following the McCain deflection. He had another play where he hit Boston Scott at the perfect time to pop the ball free for a PBU. And an understated one came when he chased down Hurts on a perfect angle after the quarterback broke free from the pocket. Taylor has been a forgotten guy in this defense, but he could earn a role and some playing time.

9. Reid Sinnett and Carson Strong are splitting the third-team reps at QB, which has been frustrating for me because I want to watch Strong. Finally got a chance to see him air out a pass during the developmental 7-on-7 period after the main practice was over. He didn’t hit Britain Covey down the left sideline but it was a bomb. No questioning his arm strength.

10. A few special guests were at training camp on Friday. Several coaches from the University of Maryland staff were on hand. That included Gunter Brewer, who served as the Eagles’ receivers coach for the 2018 season. He was between Mike Groh and Carson Walch.

Another guest on hand was longtime NFL defensive coach and former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Fangio, 63, had been the Broncos head coach from 2019-21 and doesn’t have a job right now. The Dunmore, Pennsylvania, native has been a DC for the Panthers, Colts, Texans, 49ers and Bears.

Stupid Observation of the Day: If you’ve seen those goofy looking contraptions on helmets during training camp, they’re called Guardian Caps. The NFL has made them mandatory for all linemen, linebackers and tight ends during training camp.

Kelce had some fun with it on Friday, wearing bubble wrap over his Guardian Cap for the entire 1:15 practice. He joked that maybe it would give him another 2 or 3% protection.

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