Eagles Training Camp Notebook: Defense sets the tone as new-look Secondary shines



The Eagles and Dolphins enjoyed a slightly less physical day of joint practice today down at the NovaCare Complex, with the two teams preparing for Thursday night’s preseason clash. There was still plenty to watch however, with both first team units meeting in 11-on-11 drills  to spark some added excitement. Here are the main takeaways from today’s action.


Most notably, both Jordan Hicks and Brandon Graham remain out with injuries they picked up yesterday. Both are listed as day-to-day. Bryce Treggs returned to practice, but interestingly Nick Foles was out once again. This does cause some slight concern considering he’s only just returned from elbow soreness. Doug Pederson insisted it was nothing more than rest for the six year-veteran, although he now seems doubtful to see any preseason action against the Phins.

The Eagles also suffered two more potential injuries, with Destiny Vaeao and Vinny Curry both exiting practice early. Again, both players should be fine, but it’s worth keeping an eye on nonetheless.


Pump up the Jam:
For Donnel Pumphrey, preseason has been a mixed bag of results. From one big head-turning play, to many that have been thwarted and swarmed, it hasn’t gone as explosively as many predicted for one of the most prolific dual threat backs in this year’s draft class. Today saw the SDSU standout pick up a heavy workload…something which may carry over into Thursday night as Turron Davenport noted.

Pumphrey has been exciting during OTA’s and Training Camp but could this finally be the week in which he flashes his potential in a live-game scenario?


Defense dominates the day:
As the two first-team units clashed, it was the Eagles Defense who put on a clinic. Jay Cutler and his strong arm still impressed along with his quick bonds with the likes of Jarvis Landry, but it was the Eagles stout Defense and surprisingly strong secondary that ensured momentum stayed on their side.

From a Terrence Brooks pass break-up to a Jaylen Watkins interception and some eye-catching coverage from Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, the Eagles secondary stepped up the pressure today, allowing the rest of the Defense to do what they do best…eat. Preseason has been a grand stage for the Eagles pass rush so far and this Thursday evening promises to be just the same.



‘Small World”s Big Ceiling:
Since Wendell Smallwood returned to practice, it’s safe to say he’s been making an impact. So much so that Dolphins Beat-Writer Omar Kelly even picked up on just how explosive he’s been.

Smallwood is slated to see a lot of action on Thursday Night and with recurring big plays behind him, it’s easy to see why.


Responding to the pressure:
There has been a lot of outside pressure on the newest running back to the nest lately, with his spot on the roster appearing to be a little less secure than originally expected. It seems as if the former Patriots RB has taken the words of warning and upped his game today.

Of course this could all be coincidental, however it’s safe to say Blount is going to have to show the Eagles more than he has been either way.



Next man up:
With Matt Tobin traded just one day ago, the Eagles are relatively light on tackle depth. It does mean however that former LSU TE Dillon Gordon is now second on the depth chart behind Jason Peters. Gordon’s development has been an area of appraisal and focus and today his strengths were showed again.

Jason Peters missed last week’s preseason game against the Bills and if the same happens again, it will be worth keeping an eye on whether or not the team move Lane Johnson to LT or simply elevate Dillon Gardon.


Marcus Johnson shines again:
One of the biggest winners of camp so far has undoubtedly been former Texas Longhorn, Marcus Johnson. After a big game against the Bills, Johnson turned heads once again today.

Currently listed as the backup to Alshon Jeffery, Johnson’s path to making the final 53 has become increasingly clear. A depth role on the roster seems all but certain for Johnson at this stage, especially if he shines in the upcoming game against Miami.



A Goode start:
With Jordan Hicks absent, it’s worth noting that it was Najee Goode and not Joe Walker who saw first teamp reps today.

Whether or not the special teams ace is ahead of Walker in the race for the depth spots or not remains to be seen, but it was an intriguing decision given how reliable Walker has been so far.


The GOAT mentors the future:
We’re now used to seeing Eagles legend Brian Dawkins work with the Eagles cornerbacks after practice, but seeing him work with the team’s newest and most talented corner will simply never get old…especially when it’s 30 minutes after practice. The grind never stops.


Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports