Eagles Training Camp Notebook: As the hitting begins, Wentz catches fire


A slightly delayed Eagles practice saw the team compete on Saturday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex. This would be the first time that the team have practiced with live-hitting during camp, meaning the intensity and physicality both soared. Here’s everything you need to know from this afternoon’s intense practice.



There were two players who missed todays action- QB Nick Foles, and CB Randall Goforth.

The absence of Foles meant there was plenty of work for Carson Wentz…something which as we later learned would turn out to be a great thing indeed. However for Foles, things are starting to become a little worrying. After missing a lot of time during the spring, missing out on yet more reps with elbow soreness isn’t going to do the veteran many favors.



The pads are on…so expect a few bumps along the way:
This was the first session in which the Eagles players were allowed to actively hit. With the pads on, there were bound to be a few bumps and bruises…and bumps and bruises there were.

The most worrying was Alshon Jeffery, who went down with an apparent shoulder injury. Although he later said that his shoulder is fine and worked his way back into action, there was a brief period of concern. For Johnson, he was back into action later that afternoon. As far we’re aware, there were no serious injuries, just bumps and strains. We should expect this during live-hitting periods, but so far, so good..(as long as we didn’t jinx it), so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.



Wentz catches fire:
To put it simply, the Eagles quarterback excelled today. Glowing reports all round say a lot, but hearing an impressive string of completions only built up as the day went on left fans with hearts in their eyes ahead of tomorrow’s open practice.

Completing every pass possible, Wentz found his groove today, just in time for the Eagles military appreciation day tomorrow. The chemistry between Wentz and his wideouts is ever-impressive…and it’s only going to get better from here on out.



JP is the real MVP:
If there’s one man who just deserves a round of applause, it’s Jason Peters. The veteran offensive lineman and legendary Eagle has always been known for his leadership qualities, but today they stood out bolder than ever.

After Barnett lined up against Peters recently, it’s amazing to see the left tackle trying to mold the Eagles 1st round pick. Barnett was trying to work on his spin move against Peters with little success, so to see the duo working together after practice is just amazing to see and speaks volumes about the culture Pederson has instilled. Peters also helped LSU product Dillon Gordon out during the practice itself, giving us yet even more reasons to love him.



Eagles are preparing Fletcher Cox for double teams:
This is an interesting note. After his groundbreaking extension last year, O-Lines began to account for Fletcher Cox, and rightly so. Offensive coordinators began to scheme double teams to keep the man-dog at bay and it’s something that ultimately hurt his production. Well, now the Eagles are taking every measure to ensure he’s prepared for it moving forward.

While this may not have been the direct intention of the double team, it’s worth noting that it’s something extremely valuable to Cox and the depth of the Eagles O-Line.



Wideouts continue to find consistency:
Whether it’s Alshon and Torrey making highlight plays, or the likes of Jordan Matthews making a statement, or Marcus Johnson turning heads, the Eagles wideout corps has been on a mission this offseason. That trend continued today throughout the depth chart, with the starters setting the tone.

It’s encouraging to see Wentz finally being able to rely on his wideouts. Zach Ertz also had a strong afternoon, but seeing a variety of names pop up making big plays means that there will be no shortage of weapons come the start of the season, and no shortage of reliable ones at that.



Running back battle is underway:
I wrote an article a few days ago stating how Corey Clement could be a huge wildcard to dethrone Wendell Smallwood due to the Eagles wanting some downhill depth behind Blount. Well, the Wisconsin product continues to turn heads as he forces his way through the defensive line.



Marcus Johnson is becoming a name you can’t miss:
From the moment OTA’s started, one wide receiver who has continuously shined is Marcus Johnson. The former Texas Longhorn is drawing praise at every turn…and with the pads finally on, his reputation is only growing.

If Johnson can sustain this level of production throughout camp, then it’s safe to say that he could well be a threat to the WR depth and become a favorite to make the final 53. There’s still a lot of uncertainty over how the depth will shake out at wide receiver…but Johnson’s name should certainly be in the mix.



Robinson rebounds:
It’s been a wobbly start to camp for starting corner Patrick Robinson. A few burns here and there from guys lower on the depth chart haven’t exactly painted him in a great light…however he seemed to find his swagger during today’s action.

The cornerback battle is easily one of the most intriguing on the roster, but it’s one that goes well beyond the depth. The starters are fighting just as hard to cement their own position on the roster, so every day is crucial for the likes of Robinson. It’s great to see that physicality he once flashed in the nickel in 2015 is shining back through after a wobbly year with the Colts.


All about special teams:
Jim Schwartz alluded to the fact that special teams are going to play a big role when making up the remaining linebacker depth later this offseason…and rightly so. The Eagles have had one of the most successful ST units in the league for a number of years now and that doesn’t happen by chance. With that in mind, the one position that did lack any kind of ST production last year was WR. Well, if offseason hero Greg Ward has anything to say about it, that could soon change…

With an underdog at both linebacker and wide receiver shining during special teams drills, one has to wonder how pivotal this will be when those all important roster decisions are being made by the coaching staff later next month. Either way, it’s certainly encouraging to see the hustle on special teams from two guys who have done nothing but flash during their time in Philly.


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports