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Eagles Training Camp Report: Defense Bounces Back

Defense Bounces

Photo Credit by John McMullen/JAKIB Sports

PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles’ offense came back down to earth Thursday morning, following its sharpest session of the summer with one of its shakiest in what was oppressive heat at the NovaCare Complex.

With temperatures expected to soar close to 100 degrees and well past that for the “real feel,” practice was moved up an hour to try to somewhat beat the hottest part of that day. Philadelphia didn’t scale back, however, and scheduled the longest practice session so far for Philadelphia, set to go 110 minutes and clocking in officially at 106.

Two players were seen coming off the field to the trainer’s tent during practice – tight end J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and wide receiver Deon Cain. JAKIB Sports spotted JJAW after practice and he was limping a bit while Cain’s status is unknown.

The bigger injuries happened on Tuesday when Nick Sirianni’s offense was soaring. Both starting left tackle Jordan Mailata and his backup, Andre Dillard, suffered head injuries and were placed into the concussion protocol.

In their absences, veteran Le’Raven Clark took the first-team LT reps, and second-year player Kayode Awosika handled Dillard’s typical workload.

The Eagles’ pass rush had a field day from that side for most of the practice in team drills, making it difficult for the offense to work but the session was also sloppy in other areas with a number of dropped passes and a fumble by Jason Huntley which closed the practice out.

Most of the good moments for the offense came in individual or 7-on-7 work with one notable highlight coming when Jalen Reagor beat James Bradberry, who has been spectacular in camp, in red-zone individuals.

The offensive play of the day was a perfect Gardner Minshew shovel pass to Noah Togiai at the goal line for a TD.

The defense, meanwhile, continues to marry an excellent push up front with top-tier coverage on the back end, particularly by starting CBs Bradberry, Darius Slay, and Avonte Maddox.

Late in the session, second-year SAM LB Patrick Johnson blew by Clark for a “sack” of Jalen Hurts and stifled the hurry-up offense.

After practice Sirianni noted that ebbs and flows are natural in training camp and that’s what you want as a coach.

“I think when you’re in training camp, there are going to be ebbs and flows on both sides of the ball,” said Sirianni. “In fact, that’s what you want … You don’t want one side to dominate the other side.

…There’s no doubt we have good balance on both sides of the football. The defense is presenting challenges, both with the looks and the players that we have on that side of the ball.”

PRACTICE NOTEBOOK:

– Sirianni showed up for his post-practice press conference with his three children. When asked to compare his kids to players on the team the coach went with Miles Sanders and T.J. Edwards for his sons and Darius Slay for his daughter because she has a big personality.

So if you’re wondering don’t worry about the status of Sanders, Edwards, and Slay.

– Though DeVonta Smith (groin) did not practice, he was on the field watching, an indication that the injury isn’t terribly serious. CB Mac McCain (knee), TE Grant Calcaterra (hamstring), and WR Greg Ward (toe) remained on the sidelines as well.

– WR Zach Pascal (illness) was back working in individual work while TE Richard Rodgers did the same after being activated off the PUP list. Neither worked in team drills, though. Quez Watkins was also back after missing part of Tuesday’s practice with an illness.

– Undrafted rookie WR Britain Covey had a nice day working from the slot, especially in individual and 7-on-7 work. Covey was also the first-team punt returner with Jalen Reagor elevated to first-team reps at WR and Ward out.

– Interesting personnel tweak has been Josiah Scott getting reps at safety on the second-team opposite K’Von Wallace. That’s an indication that the Eagles like both Scott and Kary Vincent in the slot and may be trying to find a way to keep both. It’s also a sign that the slow start for veteran Jaquiski Tartt continues.

– T.J. Edwards is the so-called green dot LB when on the field. When he’s not it defaults to Kyzir White and from there rookie Nakobe Dean. Dean, by the way, got Huntley’s fumble to end the practice. Edwards continued his excellent camp with a nice PBU on Watkins.

– It wasn’t the best day for Kenny Gainwell, who is the Eagles RB1 (sorry Miles) in some high-leverage situations, namely third downs, hurry-up, and goal-line work. Gainwell got stoned on a red-zone run and later had a bad drop in a hurry-up session.

– Got a chance to see some one-on-one pass-rushing drills with the main event being Brandon Graham torturing Jack Driscoll. Graham looks as explosive as ever at 34 and coming off an Achilles’ tear.

Rookie center Cam Jurgens also continues to impress with his anchoring skills, a bit of a surprise because that was supposed to be a weakness. The Nebraska product held up against Marlon Tuipulotu very well.

First-round pick Jordan Davis went to a standstill with backup interior option Jack Anderson, who is starting to show some signs.

– Undrafted rookie safety Reid Blankenship had the first “whoo” hit of the summer from fan reaction.