Eagles defense runs rampant in second joint practice with Browns: Notes & observations

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NFL: DEC 13 Saints at Eagles
PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 13: New Orleans Saints Quarterback Taysom Hill (7) scrambles from Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Josh Sweat (94) in the second half during the game between the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles on December 13, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles completed their second and final joint practice with the Cleveland Browns on Friday afternoon at the Browns’ training facilities in Berea, OH. After DeVonta Smith and Jalen Hurts shined brightly on Thursday, the pass rush turned some heads against Kevin Stefanski’s squad on day two.

Sack Whichever Quarterback

Eagles pass rushers weren’t focused on the intense conversations off the field about Deshaun Watson. They swarmed him and his backup Jacoby Brissett, who took a large share of the reps with Cleveland’s first-team offense on Friday.

Although quarterbacks in the red jerseys don’t technically go to the ground in these practices, reporters on the scene credited Eagles defenders with a flurry of (practice) sacks.

Josh Sweat continued a strong summer with a pair of sacks on Watson. Lane Johnson even compared Sweat to the fearsome Cleveland defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. If you think that sounds ridiculous, you might be surprised to know that over the past three seasons Sweat has more sacks than the former first-overall pick and the only Pro Bowl appearance between the two.

Reserve defensive end Tarron Jackson stood out with a few impact plays during the preseason opener against the New York Jets, and he continued his momentum with two more (practice) sacks on Friday. The former sixth-round pick could become a contributing depth piece in his second season behind Sweat, Brandon Graham, and Derek Barnett for a team that has dealt with a rash of injuries in the trenches in recent seasons.

Haason Reddick also joined the party, (practice) sacking Brissett twice.

For the Browns, Myles Garrett returned after missing the first joint practice with Philadelphia because of concern for a sick family member. He finished third in the league with 16.5 sacks in 2021.

Injury Report

The most consequential updates from NFL training camps and preseason games are about injuries.

Miles Sanders remained on the sidelines with a hamstring injury on Friday. Nick Sirianni could not commit to a timeline for a return, but he insisted the decision to hold his projected starting running back out is precautionary.

Grant Calcaterra returned to practice after missing nearly three weeks with his own hamstring injury. The Eagles look thin behind Dallas Goedert at tight end, and Calcaterra is one player who could benefit from extensive preseason reps. The rookie has one less player to challenge him after the Eagles dealt J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday.

Javon Hargrave and James Bradberry also missed practice on Friday, but neither veteran is considered in question for the season opener against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 11. 

Eagles- Browns Preseason Matchup

The Eagles will hold a walkthrough on Saturday and prepare to face the Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland at 1 p.m. (Eastern) on Sunday afternoon. 

Zac Jackson of The Athletic wrote about the possibility of the respective franchises as “long-standing preseason partners” beyond 2022. Stefanski’s roots in the Philadelphia area run deep. The St. Joseph’s Prep graduate and former Penn Quakers defensive back values “comfort level and relationships,” so don’t be surprised if the Browns visit the Nova Care Complex next summer.

Sirianni spent his college career at Mount Union, which is a little more than an hour away from Cleveland. Frequent references to his alma mater during media availability indicate a strong sense of pride in his connection to the area. His preexisting relationship with Brissett from their time together with the Indianapolis Colts certainly doesn’t hurt the chances of future interaction with the Browns either.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

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