Eagles Training Camp Notes: ‘It’s Fun to Hit People’ at First Padded Practice

Note: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links, Schneps Media may earn a commission.
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 12: Philadelphia Eagles safety Reed Blankenship (46) warms up during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Ball security issues forced Nick Sirianni to drop some expletives early at Philadelphia Eagles training camp. He rained fire on his players and reminded them to be “perfect” on every rep. Well, the head coach drilled the point home further to start the team’s fourth practice on August 1.

Skill players, including Jalen Hurts, were poked and prodded with plastic poles that resembled broomsticks as they grinded for yards. Further proof that fumbling will not be tolerated. Sirianni has been quick to rip into guys this summer, perhaps a bit extra animated as the Eagles look to climb back up the mountaintop in 2023 and dig their flag into it as world champions. No mistakes. No excuses.

“You know, I’m not doing anything I don’t normally do. Sometimes a correction is made with a smack on the butt, and sometimes a correction is made with getting after them,” Sirianni told reporters on July 30. “The art of coaching is figuring out when to do one and when to do the other one. So, I don’t believe I’m any more animated than I normally am. You would have to ask the guys that.”

Eagles Training Camp: Day 4, Press Conference Takeaways

The Eagles strapped the pads on for the first padded practice of training camp on Tuesday. Receiver Deon Cain was missing in action due to an ankle injury while Derek Barnett (knee), Avonte Maddox (toe), and Haason Reddick (groin) remained limited participants. Yes, the Eagles are healthier than ever thanks to an outstanding program from their training staff. Rashaad Penny shouted out Ted Rath (vice-president of player performance) for keeping him in tip-top shape the other day.

“I think I could play 20 more years here just because of how good they take care of you,” Eagles RB Rashaad Penny said. “And just what they do on the off-days and how they structure their days just to get ready to prepare for the next day. I think every day since camp started I’ve been fresh every day. I really give credit to these guys. They’re really an A+ organization in the way they take care of their guys.”

Eagles CB Avonte Maddox looking to rebound in 2023

Maddox, who missed eight games in 2022, had surgery after the Super Bowl to repair a toe on his left foot. The injury has made him a limited participant early at camp, but the starting nickel cornerback is feeling good and his recovery is coming along nicely.

“I’m getting there. It’s an everyday process, just working on it little by little,” Maddox told reporters. “But I definitely feel better each and every day I come out here and you have those days where you’re stiff a little bit, but just keep working through it. I had a great offseason with the training staff. They took very good care of me, and I’m starting to feel better.”

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 21: Philadelphia Eagles free safety Avonte Maddox (29) during the Philadelphia Eagles OTA on May 21, 2019 at the Novacare Training Complex in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Avonte Maddox on Zech McPhearson Playing the Slot: He’s learning a lot. I mean every day he got questions and I got answers. Zech is doing pretty good in the slot and I feel like he was able to play the slot when he was back in college. I’m excited to see what he can do. He keeps growing. He’s definitely improving.”
*McPhearson has been taking the first-team reps at practice as Maddox recovers.

Avonte Maddox on Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai: “Defense is defense. We’re feeling it out still. He’s new here and we’re new to him. The biggest thing is just the different terminology for the most part, other than that, every defense is almost played the same coverage-wise … so just gotta learn the new terminology which we’re doing every single day that we come out here. We’re working together. We’re making sure we listen the same, hear it the same, so that when we’re out here we can limit the mental mistakes.”
*Desai is installing a new scheme that has been described as more violent and aggressive.

Avonte Maddox on New Eagles Nickel DB Coach Ronell Williams: “It’s pretty cool. I get a lot more 1-on-1 time. Before it was you fit in where you fit in. You don’t have to sit there and wait … it gets you to work on your technique a little more.”
*Williams was a defensive quality control coach under Sean Desai in Chicago; this is his first year in Philly.

Cam Jurgens Winning the Right Guard Competition

Cam Jurgens has been getting all the first-team reps at right guard despite talk of competition for the spot between him and Tyler Steen. On Tuesday, the second-year player addressed the media to talk about his transition from center to guard. Jurgens let it slip that he has put on some extra weight, too, although he wouldn’t say how many pounds: “I’m over 300 [pounds]. I eat what tastes good. I had two ribeye steaks for dinner last night.”

Cam Jurgens on Differences Between Guard and Center: “When I’m the center I’m always on the ball. I don’t have to be anywhere, be at a certain spot or position, so now there’s a little bit of spacing differences. We do a lot of stuff where the guards go out and pull, and I can get out there in open space, at the second and third levels, and I think that’s a good advantage of being a little wider and a little bit more agile.”

Cam Jurgens on Playing with Jason Kelce: “It’s fun getting out there and seeing his insight on the field. And learning and playing with him. And seeing how he fits blocks, especially with Lane [Johnson] as well. It’s awesome playing between them two.”

Kenny Gainwell: Whatever Role They Need

When the Eagles let Miles Sanders walk in free agency, some thought Kenny Gainwell might have a shot at being the starting running back in 2023. That talk lasted for only a few weeks after the Eagles signed Rashaad Penny and traded for D’Andre Swift. Now Gainwell has shifted his focus to accepting whatever role they ask him to do.

“Whatever my role going to be this year, just make sure that we just come together and continue to do what we do,” Gainwell said. “Trying to get back to what we tasted last year, and just continuing to make each other better.”

Kenny Gainwell on His Goals: “I had a couple of goals but I’m going to keep those in-house. Other than that, man, I just wanted to come in and make sure the team got back to what we had to do last year.”

Kenny Gainwell on What He’s Working to Improve: “My blocking aspect. You want to be more firm, you want to be more smooth, knowing the points from Kelce … knowing everything you need to do from Lane [Johnson] to Jordan [Mailata], just want to be more smooth on pass protection.”

Kenny Gainwell on New Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson: “Amazing. Haven’t missed a step at all. He stepped in and been doing a great job.”

The Safety Dance: Communication is Key in Eagles secondary

Reed Blankenship has stood out during the first few practices and looks to be locked in as one of the starting safeties. The other spot belongs to Terrell Edmunds, although the Eagles have been rotating guys in there including K’Von Wallace and Justin Evans. Whatever happens, Blankenship is making the most of every rep.

“I just want to be a better player and a better communicator,” Blankenship said. “I want to anticipate a lot more formations, route schemes, and stuff like that, just so I can be on top of making plays. I want to steal plays here and there, and hopefully make a bigger play down the road.”

Reed Blankenship on Putting the Pads On: “It feels like football again. That’s what football is, it’s a violent sport. Once you put the pads on it really shows who you are as a person and as a football player, too.”

Reed Blankenship on Playing Alongside Terrell Edmunds: “I can ask Terrell anything I want and he’ll answer it, and that’s how it was with [Marcus] Epps and CJ [Gardner-Johnson]. It doesn’t matter if you’re a rookie or if you’ve been in the league forever, if you have a question about something they’re not going to be scared to answer it.”

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire