DeVonta Smith steals the show in Eagles vs Browns joint practice: Observations & more

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 26: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates a first down during the game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles on December 26, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Training Camp may be over for the Philadelphia Eagles, but joint practices are only just beginning. The Eagles held joint practices with the Cleveland Browns and it was sophomore WR, DeVonta Smith who set the tone.

In the previous year, the Eagles had dominated both teams in this scenario (Jets, Patriots). While “winning” joint practices does not equal a strong regular season showing, it’s important to get as much momentum as possible for the start of the 2022-23 season.

There was plenty to note following this afternoon’s practice so let’s get to it.

Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith Dominate

A.J. Brown might be the #1 receiver going into the season but DeVonta Smith is on the precipice of becoming an absolute star. Cleveland’s pass defense was fifth in all of football last season against the pass, so this week was a strong determining factor in how good Jalen Hurts and the passing offense could be.

Spoiler alert: they had their best run at camp.

DeVonta Smith repeatedly won in 1v1 matchups and began to jaw with many corners after beating them. Smith was arguably the best player on the field and continues to show he is 100% back from his earlier groin injury.

As good as Smith was, Jalen Hurts was just as special. The third-year quarterback was in complete command of the offense and even pulled off the play of camp to A.J. Brown.

Trench Warfare

The Browns have a ton of talent on their roster. Whether it’s in their skill group, or in the trenches, the Browns have a ton of talent. That usually means joint practices could be an excellent barometer for how good the Eagles could be.

In total, it was as large a battle with both sides getting their licks in. Landon Dickerson pancaked a player so loud it had multiple reporters surprised, and Lane Johnson appeared to win against Jadaveon Clowney, but the Browns did get some wins in.

The Philly defensive line also got some good shots on the Brown’s quarterbacks today. Josh Sweat appeared to get a sack, and even the second groups were putting serious pressure on the pocket.

Who wins the day?

It’s obviously very difficult to be objective when judging who “won” joint practices. The Eagles and Browns both had key plays throughout the practice.

It’s been pretty consistently reported that the Eagles strongly won the 1v1 period, but more of the team drills left a much more even feel.

That is a good thing for the Eagles. Outside of Deshaun Watson being suspended, the Browns are expected to be a very tough team to beat this year. The Eagles splitting reps with a good football team is nothing to be ashamed of or concerned with.

The positives far outweigh any “even” practice designation. Jalen Hurts succeeded. DeVonta Smith was great, and the defense made a number of solid plays. That is all that needs to be done to be positive about the outlook of the team.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire