What we learned from Eagles & Patriots joint practice

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 08: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass during Philadelphia Eagles training camp at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, August 8, 2021 in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles graciously hosted the New England Patriots in a joint practice today ahead of their preseason clash on Thursday. While the act itself was welcoming, the play on the field was anything but. Here is everything you need to know from today’s action.

Eagles injury update

Despite a physical day of practice, there were only a few minor knocks, with the biggest coming to CB1 Darius Slay. He walked off under his own power, but it’s safe to say that any time your top corner goes down after a hit, there’s bound to be some concern. The good news is that Slay appears to be fine and remained on the sideline for the remainder of practice.

Elsewhere, John Hightower seemed to get the memo that Quez Watkins was balling out and returned to practice, while veteran EDGE Ryan Kerrigan also made his return.

The cherry on the cake was seeing first-round pick DeVonta Smith returning to action after previously seeing his status drop to day-to-day following a minor injury. Smith wasn’t a full participant, but that didn’t stop him from getting the most out of the session.

Flacco builds momentum

As silly as it sounds, Joe Flacco finding a rhythm at this point in the offseason is a pretty big deal. It was only a couple of weeks ago that he almost seemed like an underdog to win the QB2 role behind Nick Mullens. After the latter struggled in preseason, linking up with a fellow Delaware alum on a touchdown was a great way to keep momentum rolling in his favor.

Eric Wilson makes his presence felt

It was a big day at the office for Eric Wilson, who signed with the team this past offseason. The former Viking picked off Cam Newton in the red zone made a couple of big plays throughout the day. Not that his starting status or coverage prowess were ever questioned, but it’s nice to see him stranding out as we approach the regular season after years of disappointment at the position,

Taunting pop

Good news! Marcus Epps continued his hot streak by breaking up a pass from Cam Newton. Bad news, by the sounds of it, that would probably cost the Eagles 15 yards.

Jalen Hurts steals the show

It was a big day for Eagles QB Jalen Hurts, which will come as a big boost after a tame preseason debut. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, in fact, it was probably the best case possible, but an aggressive day of deep bombs and touchdowns will go down nicely. He even caught the praise of Patriots beat writers!

Another strong day for Quez Watkins

Following on from his 79-yard touchdown on Thursday, Watkins manhandled corners in man-coverage. There will be a follow-up article on this later, as it’s genuinely really impressive to see after breaking down his rookie tape and how much he struggled against press. Watkins looks to be playing with an edge this year and it’s already paying dividends.

Eagles secondary struggles

On the other side of the field, however, things weren’t as pretty. The Eagles DB’s struggled mightily against the Pats receiving corps, something that we will be paying close attention to when they clash again on Thursday.

An old friend in Nelson Agholor decided to give his former a team a run for its money, with QB Mac Jones ripping up the second and third string DB’s (which should kinda be expected?).

It’s a refreshing test for the DB’s to face a very different group of wide receivers, but anyone not named Darius Slay is going to have to perform much better over the coming weeks, with the shell of the secondary undoubtedly in a position to take several shapes. The only player they’re committed too long-term is rookie Zech McPhearson, meaning it may well be a case of the best man winning both inside and out.

Sanders drops Continue

There’s been one concurrent problem for the Eagles this offseason and it’s a familiar one to many – drops. Unfortunately, the issue only seems to be playing one player. Miles Sanders led all NFL RB’s in drops last year and now finds himself struggling with the issue yet again, despite an offseason of work in that area.

The Eagles have added an array of running backs this offseason, with rookie Kenny Gainwell and veteran Kerryon Johnson both specializing in the pass. Maybe they’ll be able to negate the clear weakness that Sanders, at this time, appears unable to shake.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire