Eagles training camp: 5 important takeaways from Friday’s practice

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 02: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Nakobe Dean (17) enters the field during training camp on August 2, 2022 at the Novacare Complex in Philadelphia, PA (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles have never really valued the linebacker position, but the team may have to put an unexpected emphasis following a rough few days at training camp. Patrick Johnson was carted off the field at Friday’s practice with an apparent knee injury. The outside linebacker was set to undergo further testing (via The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane) and it wasn’t considered serious at first glance.

Johnson is more of an edge rusher as a quarterback-sacking outside linebacker, but depth at the position has been a concern all summer. Starting middle linebacker Nakobe Dean suffered an ankle injury at Thursday’s practice and missed Friday’s session. A team spokesperson told multiple reporters that Dean was “fine” although the second-year player was officially listed day to day. The situation bears monitoring in the coming days, especially with Christian Elliss and Nolan Smith taking the Eagles’ first-team reps there.

That’s right: Nicholas Morrow wasn’t running with the starters as he continues to battle Elliss for the off-the-ball linebacker job. Here is the full injury report from Friday’s practice:

Jalen Hurts Throws First Interception at Eagles Training Camp

Jalen Hurts has been on automatic pilot since the team reported to the NovaCareComplex on July 26. The dual-threat quarterback had unofficially gone 56-of-72 for four touchdowns with no interceptions through five practices. That all came to a crashing halt on Friday. Hurts chucked his first pick of camp on a bad throw that smacked Darius Slay right in the hands. After the play, the third-year starter predictably got down on the ground and did push-ups.

“I don’t think there’s been any difference in how I’ve been this whole time, my whole career, in terms of my goals and my approach,” Hurts told reporters on August 3. “My intent toward practice and how it’s been so I’ve just always strived to be the best I can be and continue to learn, and continue to be a positive influence and affect the people around me.”

Haason Reddick Getting Reps, Josh Sweat Thriving

Pro Bowler Haason Reddick took first-team reps in 11-on-11 drills for the first time this summer on Friday. According to The Inquirer’s Josh Tolentino, Reddick lined up on the opposite side of Eagles teammate Josh Sweat, with Derek Barnett rotating in at both defensive end and linebacker. Sweat has been wowing early at camp and continued his impressive play on a rep where he “ripped through” Landon Dickerson to record a sack.

Meanwhile, Kelee Ringo gave up a touchdown to Olamide Zaccheaus who beat the rookie cornerback on a nasty route (via Brandon Lee Gowton) in 1-on-1 drills. Quez Watkins followed it up with back-to-back winning reps, including a leaping contested catch over Avonte Maddox. Starting cornerback James Bradberry sat out Friday’s practice with a groin injury.

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick reacts following an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 38-7. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Tyler Steen Getting Reps at Two Positions

Eagles Rookie Tyler Steen was spotted getting reps at left tackle — on the second team, behind Jordan Mailata — at Thursday’s practice and his education continued on Friday when the former Alabama standout finally got some burn at right guard. The Eagles readjusted the offensive line in order to rest starters Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, throwing Steen in at right guard (via EJ Smith) and sliding Cam Jurgens over to center, and inserting Jack Driscoll at right tackle. Jurgens has been the starting right guard throughout training camp, although Steen was supposed to be in the mix for the job.

Eagles Running back update

D’Andre Swift has generated the most buzz of any of the running backs so far. His ability to work the formation and split out wide as a receiver makes him the favorite to be the Week 1 starter. However, look for the Eagles to get all their rushers involved in the offense. Kenny Gainwell was the featured back during the team’s two-minute drill on Friday. Head coach Nick Sirianni has stayed true to his promise of rotating the reps between everyone, including Swift and Gainwell along with Boston Scott, Rashaad Penny, and Trey Sermon. Penny, a stud return man in college at San Diego State, has been seeing action on kickoff returns. 

“It’s goofy. Everything is funny. I’m just enjoying every bit of it,” Gainwell said of being in the running backs room. “I’m just going to soak in every opportunity I get.”

Eagles fans should watch out for the Marcus Mariota to Greg Ward connection

As much talent as Tanner McKee has displayed, the backup quarterback job belongs to Marcus Mariota who inked a one-year, $5 million contract in the offseason. He has talked about being a sounding board for Jalen Hurts and his steady leadership of the second-team offense has shown up at practice. Mariota hit veteran receiver Greg Ward Jr. down the right sideline for a big gainer on Friday, then fired a tight completion to Kenny Gainwell on the next play.

“Marcus has been great to be around,” Eagles offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said of Mariota. “I think he has a very unique experience in this league, as well, and anytime that — you spend so much time in the building with these guys and they spend so much time together in the quarterback meetings, I think just being able to share that information, share knowledge is really important to the development of the position.”

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire