Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Training Camp Notebook: A new underdog emerges

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We’re finally here. After a gruelling offseason filled with twists and turns, Training Camp is upon us. The NovaCare Complex opened its doors to the Philadelphia Eagles today for their first practice of the Summer and while we couldn’t be there, we’ve spent the morning sifting through as much information as possible to condense it down into one handy guide. We’ll be doing this after each practice, so make sure to check back regularly!

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Elephant in the room

There was a huge surprise surrounding Zach Ertz today and it has nothing to do with his appearance…at training camp. His physical appearance is what drew everyone’s attention today, with the former first-round pick sporting a brand new haircut.

Whether he’s channeling his inner Machine Gun Kelly or maybe even David Beckham, it’s nice to see Ertz back at camp and actually practicing. It’s quite normal to see players at the center of trade talks end up sitting out practices to ensure they stay healthy.

Not only is Ertz practicing, but he’s also acting as an early mentor to rookie WR DeVonta Smith. We can file this under ‘things we love to see’.

Injury updates

Jalen Reagor was seen taking part in individual drills but was absent in 11-on-11 situations. It’s also worth noting that Seumalo is absent. This opens a nice opportunity for Nate Herbig to see some playing time with the first-team, something that would’ve been otherwise stripped from him thanks to the return of Brandon Brooks.

That brings me to my next point. The Eagles placed 3 players on the COVID/reserve list today – Alex Singleton, Matt Leo, and Anthony Harris. This isn’t an indicator that they have the virus, and Howie Roseman later clarified that 90% of the players have started the vaccination process. However, they may be away from camp for a few days at a minimum.

Rodney McLeod, Landon Dickerson, and Le’Raven Clark will start the Summer on the PUP list. Brandon Brooks will not, which is absolutely incredible. The man is coming back from a second Achilles and already back working with the team. Heroic.

QB rust

There was predictably some early rust from the quarterbacks today. Joe Flacco was almost picked off by T.J Edwards, while Jalen Hurts was punished by new CB Josiah Scott. K’Von Wallace, who is starting in place of McLeod, almost got his paws on the pigskin as well.

There should’t be anything to be concerned about here. It’s the opening day of practice and there’s bound to be a sense of settling in and building up those bonds with your new teammates.

Early LT picture

It’s very early days, but it looked as though Andre Dillard was the first team LT in today’s install. Jordan Mailata was at practice and I’m sure there are going to be plenty of rotations throughout the Summer. Predictably though, the Eagles are affording the early advantage to the man they drafted in the first-round three years ago.

Style of coaching

All eyes were on Nick Sirianni and the Eagles coaches today and understandably so. How would his coaching style differ from Doug Pederson? Would we see a more hands-on approach? What about new drills?

There was a scenario where Sirianni pulled DeVonta Smith to the side after a rep to go over what he wanted to see from the receiver, backing up the hands-on notion that has been built up this offseason.

Outside of that, there appears to be a focus on ball security (as shown in the clip above). This is really good to see given that Miles Sanders led the position in drops last year and Jalen Hurts led the NFL in fumbles. Seeing an early emphasis on protecting the rock can only be seen as a positive.

It also looked to pay early dividends…

Scheme looks

I was intrigued to see how the Eagles would line up defensively. Would they run 4-3 front or mix things up. If we took Minnesota’s defense as a base, then it would be fair to expect some curveballs, and it didn’t take long for one to be thrown.

This definitely lends itself to players like Milton Williams, and Genard Avery, who can fill multiple roles on the defense. Fletcher Cox told reporters that Milton is playing the ‘Brandon Graham’ role in camp, while we’ve seen a healthy dose of Davion Taylor today as well.

The Eagles have a strong secondary and some versatile pieces up front who could start at the line and drop back into coverage. Keep an eye out for that this Summer.

A new underdog?

Every year we see a new Eagles underdog steal our hearts. From Paul Turner and Raheem Mostert, to Alex Singleton and Greg Ward, Training Camp opens up the doors for an overlooked player to turn heads. Early signs are pointing towards former Bills QB Tyree Jackson walking down that path.

Now competing at tight end, Jackson is working behind a very light depth chart that could get even lighter if Ertz is moved. Jackson has burst out of the gate with a vengeance. Let’s see if he can keep the momentum rolling.

Punt returns

The Eagles have lacked any real stability at PR/KR positions for a while now. At least to begin with, it looks like Boston Scott is taking the Lion’s share of reps here, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. Although, it was natural to wonder if DeVonta Smith would see some action…which he did. Whether or not the team would want him out on punt returns as well might take a while to decipher, but it’s nice to see the intent.

WR1

It wouldn’t be a notebook without talking a closer look at DeVonta Smith, and he made sure to make the most of his first camp practice as a Philadelphia Eagle.

It’s encouraging to see the post-practice work between Hurts and Smith, and the fact that the Eagles quarterback continued to target his former Alabama teammate. The chemistry between the two has obviously flared up nice and early!

Maker sure to check back later on for some more Training Camp content, as well as a YouTube video going over the first day’s action!

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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Liam is a 25-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.

You can contact him here: Phillysportsnetwork@gmail.com

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