1. For the first week or so of camp, only a select few have seen the Eagles practice. But Sunday’s open workout at Lincoln Financial Field afforded 40,000-something fans their first opportunity to see the 2019 team – and rooking running back Miles Sanders -- up close. I mention Sanders specifically because he could be the breakout star of this squad. With each practice it has become abundantly clear that he has all the tools to be a featured back in the NFL. Every time he touches the ball you can see the difference between the other running backs and Sanders. He’s faster, more explosive and, aside from Josh Adams, bigger.
He still has a lot to learn. And the Eagles won’t put too much on his plate early on. But I wouldn’t hold him back for too long. Running backs can have an immediate impact in their first years. Sanders had several highlights Sunday. He had a freaky jump cut to his right on a red zone run that resulted in a “touchdown.” He “scored” again on an outside zone run. With two linemen pulling in front, Sanders patiently waited for a hole to develop and then he accelerated through. It was a beautiful thing to watch. Later, he zig-zagged up the middle and hit the burner at the second level. My favorite moment came when the stayed in to block. He picked up the blitzing linebacker and drove him into the turf as quarterback Carson Wentz hit tight end Zach Ertz. Sanders and Wentz did fumble an exchange, and ball security will be something to monitor for the rookie. But with a good line and a good quarterback, Sanders has the potential to put up good numbers this season.
2. The Eagles are done with live drills, so contact was limited to “thud” during team periods. A day after linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill injured his knee (a grade 3 MCL sprain), there were a couple more injuries. Defensive end Joe Ostman had to be carted off the field with an apparent serious leg injury. And wide receiver Shelton Gibson left after he made a pretty good catch on a slant. With Grugier-Hill out for “multiple weeks,” per the team, the Eagles will need another linebacker to step up. Zach Brown took Grugier-Hill’s repetitions with the first team alongside Nate Gerry. A.J. Fort and Alex Singleton were the second team linebackers. Getting Nigel Bradham (foot) back from injury will make the unit look better, obviously, but Grugier-Hill will be hard to replace. He was having a good camp and he knows the defense.
3. Jim Schwartz wasn’t giving much away when he was asked before practice about the cornerback competition. But, as he said, we’re still early in the game. In fact, the Eagles have yet to play one. But with Jalen Mills (foot) not any closer to a return, and Ronald Darby (knee) still limited, it’s looking more like Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox with be the top three corners when the season opens. The only question, really, is who plays in the slot? Jones and Maddox have taken turns inside, but the former could be pulling away on the outside. He had another strong practice. During one set, Jones broke up passes to Ertz and tight end Dallas Goedert. I didn’t see him give much else up. Douglas is strictly an outside guy and he’s played well. But he was up and down Sunday. Douglas was on receiver Alshon Jeffery’s back when he dropped a pass inside the 5-yard line. But he got beat by Ertz on a Wentz dart to the pylon for a “touchdown” and by Jeffery on an out-and-in route in the end zone.
» READ MORE: Jim Schwartz not worried about injuries so far
4. Wentz looked very good, especially as the practice progressed. If he’s had an issue this camp, it’s been his touch on passes he’s had to loft downfield. He threw too far off a releasing Goedert and essentially repeated the mistake when Ertz got behind a defender down the sideline. But Wentz was otherwise sharp. He tossed a BB to Ertz over the middle that the tight end somehow bobbled (but caught). He dropped a beauty to receiver Nelson Agholor on a corner fade into the end zone that was reeled in (although it appeared as if both feet weren’t inbounds). He once had a pass tipped back at him by defensive tackle Malik Jackson. Wentz caught it and ran, although no defender could hit him. The completion that got the most applause occurred about halfway through practice. Wentz rolled right as he avoided a rusher. Before he cocked to throw, he pointed at receiver DeSean Jackson, who was deep and surrounded by defenders. Wentz took a little off his throw and Jackson came back for the jump ball reception. It was about a 50-yard grab. Jackson then ran to the end of the field and threw the ball into the stands.
5. Nate Sudfeld continued to impress. I want to see more, obviously, especially in live situations. But the Eagles could do worse at backup quarterback. He made the right read and found an all-alone Wendell Smallwood in the flat. He showed patience waiting for Gibson on a 12-yard slant. He eluded the rush and stepped up and hit Goedert. He later went back to the streaking tight end, but Goedert somehow couldn’t pull in what looked like a decent throw. Sudfeld’s best pass was a dime to receiver DeAndre Thompkins on a 25-yard out. A close second was a bull’s eye into the end zone to sideline-breaking receiver Greg Ward.
6. The third-unit offense didn’t get much action, nor did it provide much, which, I guess, means the third unit defense is doing pretty well. But running back Boston Scott once broke off a long rush. Quarterback Cody Kessler had a few completions, but he also had a few bad misses. He threw too high of wide-open tight end Josh Perkins and threw too short of running back Donnel Pumphrey underneath.
7. One on ones between the linemen were relatively uneventful. Tackle Lane Johnson and defensive end Brandon Graham faced off and while the former seemed to score a win, he hurt his hand. Johnson would finish practice, however. Guard Isaac Seumalo made easy work of Jackson. Tackle Andre Dillard was back to his old smooth self vs. defensive end Vinny Curry. He had trouble against Graham’s bull rushes a day prior but moving side to side hasn’t been much of an issue. Tackle Ryan Bates of Penn State has quietly had a nice camp. I don’t know about his long-term prospects, but he doesn’t look lost like so many rookies. He did a nice job anchoring vs. a Josh Sweat power move.