1. The Eagles added a number of players to their injury list Saturday (more on that later), but there was good news on the injury front. Derek Barnett took another step back toward a full return following torn rotator cuff surgery. The third-year defensive end participated in team drills for the first time this year. Barnett logged repetitions at right defensive end vs. left tackles Jason Peters and Andre Dillard. The Eagles were in pads for “thud” periods. It was difficult to assess Barnett’s play during team drills — most of practice was held on the worst field for viewing line play — but he had a couple of one-on-one rushes in clear view. Both were against right tackle Jordan Mailata, who was able to steer Barnett outside the pocket on the first rep. But on the second, the end with the great bend turned the corner on the massive offensive lineman.
Mailata took all the first team snaps with Lane Johnson (knee) sidelined (more on that later). He got toasted by another inside spin rush during one on ones. With Joe Ostman injured, it was Brandon Graham’s turn to get Mailata with a move he can’t seem to stop. Dillard had trouble with Graham’s bull rush several practices ago, but he got the best of the end on an outside speed rush Saturday.
2. The Eagles updated their injury list. The most notable names were Johnson and tight end Dallas Goedert (calf). The timetable for their return was listed as “week to week,” but their injuries aren’t considered serious enough to derail them from being ready by the season opener on Sept. 8. The Eagles are being cautious more than anything. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who broke his left wrist Thursday night, was at practice in an arm sling. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot) wasn’t at practice, but he hadn’t suffered a setback, per a team spokesman. Safety Blake Countess (hamstring) was listed as being out for multiple weeks. Wide receiver Shelton Gibson (ankle) is still week to week. Defensive end Daeshon Hall (shoulder), defensive tackle Hassan Ridegway (concussion), and receiver DeAndre Thompkins (shoulder) were new additions and listed as day to day. Running back Boston Scott wasn’t included in the team report, but he didn’t practice again.
3. Quarterback Carson Wentz and most of the first team offense didn’t play in the preseason opener, but they got a lot of action Saturday. Wentz wasn’t sharp during his first set of team drills. He hasn’t practiced since Tuesday, so there might have been rust. He had a pass easily broken up by safety Malcolm Jenkins and threw a would-be pick six when linebacker Nate Gerry read a bubble screen and intercepted the pass. Wentz was also errant on throws to tight end Zach Ertz and receiver Alshon Jeffery. But he rebounded and finished strong. He stroked one that receiver Nelson Agholor plucked out of the air. He connected with Ertz in hurry up. He hit receiver DeSean Jackson with a low-and-away toss toward the sideline that cornerback Sidney Jones had no chance to break up. He completed 9 of his last 10 pass attempts according to my notes. Doug Pederson gave no indication if he planned on keeping Wentz out of the entire preseason, but if he does, practices like this one and the upcoming scrimmages against the Ravens will have to suffice.
4. Cody Kessler’s life changed in the instant Sudfeld went down. The Eagles appear to be committed to him as Sudfeld’s replacement — at least for a week. Kessler received a large share of repetitions, as well. He was, uh, OK. Miscommunication appeared to be an issue on several incomplete throws. Kessler has worked with various receivers, but there could be an adjustment period as he jumps up to the second unit. He had a pass batted to the turf by defensive end Shareef Miller during goal line. He had a couple of solid intermediate completions, though, to receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on out and corner routes. But he woefully overthrew an open Braxton Miller on a sideline route. Clayton Thorson, after his forgetful preseason debut, was essentially given the day off. When he took team reps, he mostly handed the ball off. He did throw the ball once and hooked up with Miller on a quick out. So Thorson had a perfect practice!
5. Kessler wasn’t helped any by center Stefen Wisniewski’s snaps. It’s been a camp-long problem for the veteran, although I don’t think he had any loose moments against the Titans. But I counted three bad shotgun snaps Saturday. It’s been written here before, but if Wiz has lost his backup center spot to Isaac Seumalo, he could find himself on the outside looking in when Brandon Brooks returns from injury.
6. DeSean Jackson’s deep receiving skills rightfully get the most attention, but he isn’t a one-trick pony. The Eagles will have him run more than two routes and they’ll find ways to utilize his speed and get the ball in his hands. Jackson caught a fair number of designed short passes Saturday. There was a bubble screen and a flip from Wentz on a quasi-jet sweep. Jackson even caught a shortie on goal line and stretched his hand out over the plane for a touchdown. He got open on a deep cross late in practice, but Wentz was long with his throw.
7. Ertz had one of his better practices of the summer. There’s been a lot of ink spilt over Goedert’s development, and rightfully so, but Ertz is a pretty good tight end, too. I don’t think there’s any tight end in the NFL as quick off the line. If you didn’t know what position he played, you might think he was a receiver. Ertz has improved as a blocker, but he still has his struggles. I liked how he bottled up safety Rodney McLeod on one Jordan Howard carry and drove him back off the line. Ertz jogged into the medical tent briefly but returned to practice and looked fine.