The boys are back in town: Ten takeaways from first day of Eagles OTA’s

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The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off the next phase of their offseason workout program today, with voluntary organized team activities gracing the NovaCare Complex. If you haven’t had a chance to check out our eight-part preview series, be sure to check it out here. But after day one, there was plenty of tidbits that warrant noting. So, here’s everything you need to know from day one.

 

An early front-runner in the battle for left guard:
Doug Pederson stated in his press conference earlier today that it would be Isaac Seumalo taking the starting reps at a starting LG role that’s up for grabs. The Eagles Head Coach gave the following reason as to why he trusted Seumalo with that responsibility:

Well, [he is] obviously a kid that we picked up last year in the draft. And then [G/T] Allen Barbre right now [is] still nursing a calf, lower body injury there. So, this gives him an opportunity to work in with that first group so we can get Allen … Listen, Allen is a guy that, as you guys know, [is] one of the those versatile offensive linemen that can play guard and tackle. When we get Allen back, too, we want to work him not only at guard, but also at tackle.

It was a decision that would serve him well, as the former Oregon product would go on to make some strong impressions at the position on day one.

Well, I guess that’s one way to word a dominant showing, right?

Some notable absentees:
There were some notable names not present during today’s VOLUNTARY workout. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones were no-shows, but interestingly..so was Fletcher Cox. Last year, Cox held out in order to earn a shattering new contract, but with no real Eagles related reason to miss these activities, it’s certainly concerning.

Pederson didn’t seem too happy with the franchise DT’s decision to miss the first week of action, but was also very calm when discussing it:

“Well, the reason is satisfactory. Again, it’s a voluntary program. I would love for everybody to be here. That’s just me, personally. I would love everybody to be here. I know it’s not always going to work out that way. But, you know, Fletcher’s one of the leaders on the football team. Guys like that, you do expect to be here. I get the rules. We abide by the rules. He’s one of the guys, too, that at the end of the day, I’m going to hang my hat on and go to war with.”

There was one name who slipped through the cracks however, one that wasn’t mentioned by Doug Pederson and who many assumed was present until drills started, defensive end, Marcus Smith. It’s not yet known why Smith was absent..but given how crucial this offseason is for him, it’s not a great look.

Dorial Green-Beckham’s bumpy return:
With an influx of new talent and a year where DGB simply needs to shine, it’s safe to say that OTA’s didn’t start as promisingly as he perhaps intended.

There’s admittedly a long way to go..but motivation isn’t a light switch..and the Eagles receiving corps has gone from 0-100 in terms of competition levels. There had been previous character concerns when it came to the former Titan, and under Mike Groh..there’s about to be a very severe wake-up call for the physical wideout.

Can Groh turn Agholor’s career around?
Conversely, Nelson Agholor is one man who has a relentless work ethic, but has just been haunted by too many demons and chained down throughout his career so far. Under Mike Groh however, Pederson believes Agholor could see new life:

“Listen, Nelson’s attitude has been great. He’s worked extremely hard this offseason. The addition of [wide receivers coach] Mike Groh has really sort of lit a fire with Nelson a little bit, and then the addition with [WRs] Alshon [Jeffery] and Torrey [Smith] and bringing these guys in. As I’ve said all along, competition, man, sharpens you. And that’s what I’ve seen from Nelson. He’s done a great job already this spring.”

With no pressure of having to live up to expectations or carry the unit as the team’s primary receiving target…it seems as though continuity and some fresh faces have helped cultivate Agholor’s form. It’s VERY early on in the proceedings…but the right impression has certainly been made.

Defensive line dominance:
To put it simply, the defensive line was reported to have completely destroyed the offensive front multiple times today.

Barnett seems to be making the most of his first organized team practice, while the rest of the unit simply seem to be fired up and constantly motivated. The impressive thing here is that this is still without Fletcher Cox. Training Camp is going to be a LOT of fun.

Pumph it up:
There were murmurs that Donnel Pumphrey would be working out of the slot for the Eagles at times, and those murmurs were solidified today.

The Birds’ appear more than comfortable utilizing the versatility of Donnel Pumphrey. A fumble on day one may not have gone down too well, but his involvement in the offense and overall efficiency away from the “rookie” mistake is impressive.

Starting cornerback tandem:
Pederson noted in his press conference that it would be Patrick Robinson and Jalen Mills starting with the one’s during the OTA period. Interestingly, Mills also lined up in the slot on several occasions, with the team experimenting having Rasul Douglas lining up outside.

With Mills and Robinson named as the starters, it will be interesting to see how Douglas performs and if he is able to unseat one or the other. The lengthy corner also had a strong start to OTA’s, which will only help his bid to earn that stripe.

Blount storms out of the gate..
Taking the majority of snaps with the starters today, was former Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount. The seven-year veteran who only signed with the Eagles last week, was present for OTA’s and made a good impression. From his size alone turning heads, to his attitude on the field..there has been nothing but glowing reports from those who attended the practice today.

…but what about Smallwood?
With Blount dominating the first team reps and the duo of Sproles and Pumphrey shining elsewhere, it’s left an uphill battle for Wendell Smallwood. The West Virginia product who rushed for 312 yards in his rookie season has even more pressure on his shoulders to impress if he is to make the final 53-man roster.

A long road has been made even longer now that he’s lining up behind Darren Sproles, a veteran who plans to retire at the end of the year. Competition is the name of the game..and it’s something Smallwood has to embrace if he is to retain his role on the Eagles Offense.

Wentz shrugs off the rust:
The future of the franchise returned to the NovaCare to build on his rookie season, and started off largely in the right direction. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks, Wentz completed 18/23 passes and recorded 1 interception, and it wasn’t just the completions that stood out.

Although there were some early “sails”, it appears as though Wentz has shaken off any existing rust early on and settled straight back in to the swing of things, ready to attack the remainder of OTA’s.

 

While we don’t have any of our writers stationed at the NovaCare Complex, we will be bringing you daily recaps just like this after each practice, as well as EXCLUSIVE player interviews throughout the offseason, so be sure to stay locked in.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

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