Eagles Training Camp Recap: 5 Takeaways from Wednesday’s Practice

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 27: Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett (96) looks on during the game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Philadelphia Eagles on September 27, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles are in the middle of their first “game week” of the summer as they prepare to face the Ravens in the preseason opener on the road in Baltimore on August 12. The game will be a breath of fresh air for some players who are sick and tired of seeing the same matchups every day.

The starters likely won’t see more than a series or two in Baltimore, and some may not even take the field at all. It all depends on Nick Sirianni’s gut feeling. However, the Eagles are looking forward to their upcoming joint practices with the Cleveland Browns at the NovaCare Complex next week.

Eagles Left tackle Jordan Mailata wasn’t ready to admit he was overly excited to welcome Myles Garrett to town, but the opportunity to match wits against a team wearing a different colored jersey is certainly intriguing.

“It’s going to be good just to see where we’re at as an offense because our defense, not really growing pains but they’re trying to figure out their DNA and it’s keeping us sharp because every day it’s a new look,” Mailata told reporters on August 9. “And they do a great job of keeping us honest so it’s going to be great to go out there and go up against somebody who doesn’t know our cadence. That’s nice.”

Eagles Training Camp: Day 9 Practice Observations

It’s Always Him: Derek Barnett Starts First Fight

Derek Barnett looked explosive coming off the edge with the first-team defense in relief of Josh Sweat. He got into the backfield and chased Jalen Hurts into a rushed throw and incompletion. That was the good.

Later in practice, during a drill where the offense was backed up to the 1-yard line, Barnett took offense to a crack block thrown at him by Landon Dickerson. The play was a legal one, although it rubbed the defense the wrong way, and Barnett decided to vent his frustration by shoving Dickerson in the back after a screen pass to A.J. Brown. Tempers flared as teammates held Barnett back before things escalated.

Nick Sirianni’s viral “it’s always him” comment started trending on Twitter, but several defensive players thought Barnett had a right to be mad. Fletcher Cox shouted: “That’s bullshit, Landy!” Barnett was immediately subbed out.

Offensive Play: Situational Football on Display

The Eagles used Wednesday’s practice to focus on situational football, including a lot of down and distance stuff. Red-zone work was one area of emphasis and Jalen Hurts took off for a big gainer on the first snap of the first series during 11-on-11 drills. D’Andre Swift fooled the defense on a misdirection play, then Hurts tossed it to Kenny Gainwell for a short again up the gut. The team seemed intent on showcasing Gainwell all day as he took the bulk of the first-team reps at running back. Hurts capped that drive with a rushing score on an outside sweep.

Prior to that, Eagles DE Brandon Graham got in the backfield and caused Hurts to overthrow Dallas Goedert on a big defensive play. Fletcher Cox came off the field early — not due to injury, don’t worry — but to allow Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter to build chemistry by taking the first-team reps at defensive tackle. Davis was chided later in practice by defensive line coach Tracy Rocker for missing an assignment. He walked off the field and chatted with Cox for a long time. It appeared as if they were discussing how to guess the cadence.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 01: Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Brandon Graham (55) celebrates a turnover in the first half during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles on November 01, 2020 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Haason Reddick was once again a blur off the edge and registered one sack (by my count) on Hurts on the next series to force a punt. Nolan Smith had a memorable rep where he pushed Jack Driscoll into Marcus Mariota. (Also, kudos to Mariota who was excellent overall. He was in control of the offense all day, vividly displayed on a nice completion to Britain Covey.)

Josh Sweat was also wreaking havoc all morning at Eagles practice. He rotated a lot with Derek Barnett. The defense is still learning Sean Desai’s system but the new defensive coordinator is sharp as a whip. Desai’s confidence in commanding the sideline is noticeable as he sometimes ventures onto the field to call out formations and yell for substitutions.

Scary Play of the Day: Jalen Hurts vs. Tarron Jackson

The scariest moment of the day happened when Jalen Hurts collided with Tarron Jackson. The dual-threat quarterback was forced to scramble after the pocket collapsed, then decided to take an inside angle to the end zone but Jackson cut him off at the pass. There was contact: a real shoulder pad-to-shoulder pad collision. Neither player was hurt and Jackson was quick to hug Hurts and apologize for the unintentional hit.

Hurts, who wasn’t as on fire as he’s been in previous practices, got the last laugh on the final drive of the morning. Hurts had to rip it fast because Reed Blankenship was coming hard on a safety blitz. He did. Hurts hit Brown down the left sideline for a 50-yard gain with rookie cornerback Kelee Ringo in tight coverage. Practice over.

New Pecking Order: Depth Chart Updates

The Eagles recently signed linebackers Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham to add depth to the room. The team has wasted no time in throwing them into the fire either. Jack received first-team reps next to Nicholas Morrow in the base defense with Nakobe Dean limited. Cunningham ran with the twos as he gets up to speed. Something to monitor.

Reed Blankenship has one of the safety spots locked up. Done deal. Terrell Edmunds and K’Von Wallace continue to battle for the other one, with Sydney Brown moving up the depth chart there. Don’t be shocked if the Eagles make a move. For now, Wallace appears to be the front-runner and he stayed long after practice ended to work on the Jugs Machine. He’s committed and hungry.

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)

Right guard? The job belongs to Cam Jurgens just in case that wasn’t clear enough. He has been the starter all summer. Rookie Tyler Steen has been seeing more and more snaps at left tackle with the second team as the potential primary backup to Jordan Mailata. He also took reps at right guard, with Jurgens at center, as Jason Kelce got a breather. Josh Sills is being cross-trained at guard and tackle. He committed a false start penalty that got him an earful on Wednesday.

Injury Report: Nakobe Dean Returns

Linebacker Nakobe Dean returned to practice in a limited capacity as he recovers from an ankle injury. Ditto for receiver Devon Allen (calf) who made a highlight-reel catch on a perfect spiral from Marcus Mariota in individual drills.

Receiver Deon Cain (ankle) and outside linebacker Patrick Johnson (ankle) did not participate in practice. One more note: the Eagles conducted practice at Lincoln Financial Field. There was a nice crowd on hand, including a contingent from MLK Cougars Football.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire