1. Team drills were split on two fields. I followed the action between the Eagles offense and the Ravens defense for several reasons: No. 1, it may be the only opportunity to see Carson Wentz against another team this preseason. No. 2, the first-team units are each team’s respective strength. And No. 3, they faced off on the field easiest for viewing.
The players wore pads, but there wasn’t live tackling -- only “thud” periods – so it was difficult to assess run plays. The quarterbacks, per usual, were off-limits, so that must be factored in, as well. My objective conclusion of the Eagles’ starting offense vs. the Ravens’ is that it was a draw. The Eagles’ offensive line opened some rather large lanes on the ground early, but it didn’t have as much success as practice wore on.
Wentz was decent through the air. He hit on some intermediate routes, and one long one, but he could have had a bigger day if he was more accurate on deeper tosses. Baltimore’s secondary deserves credit, of course, for keeping the quarterback and his receivers in check. Jimmy Smith and Marlon Humphrey are solid, physical cornerbacks, and Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson, who were acquired in the offseason, give the Ravens one of the best free safeties in the former and a strong complement in the box with the latter.
2. To the action: In a bit of a surprise, Corey Clement took the first few handoffs. The third-year running back has been incrementally returning from a knee injury, but this was the most prominent he’s been in practice. Clement ran into a wall on his first try, but he scooted through a hole off the right and into the secondary, where he bounced into Thomas.
Jordan Howard took the next carry and galloped through a gaping hole on the left cleared by tackle Jason Peters and guard Isaac Seumalo. Wentz dumped to receiver Alshon Jeffery on a short slant to end that series.
3. On the first play of the next team period, Wentz found Jeffery over the middle off play action. Clement picked up bulk yards running behind right tackle Jordan Mailata, who’s been filling in for the injured Lane Johnson (knee). A play later, linebacker Pernell McPhee got into the backfield and tagged Clement for a loss. Wentz then connected with receiver Nelson Agholor for a 15-yard completion after DeSean Jackson cleared space by taking two defensive backs deep on a post.
A series later, Wentz’s hard count got the Ravens to jump offside. A misdirection screen was designed to go to Jeffery, but Baltimore didn’t bite, and Wentz buried the ball. After Clement was stopped on a rush, Wentz threw to Jackson over the middle on a deep dig, but he didn’t see Kenny Young underneath and the ball went through the linebacker’s hands incomplete. A short pass was then set up to receiver Greg Ward in the slot, but cornerback Cyrus Jones rushed off the edge and batted the ball to the turf.
4. McPhee started off the next team period with a sack after he got around Peters. Wentz dumped short to Jackson for a few yards. He then uncorked a 45-50-yard pass to Jeffery, who got past Thomas. Agholor thought he was grabbed when Wentz tried for him a late release on the next play. But the two hooked up on a wheel route out of the slot. Wentz aired another out to Jackson, but Humphrey ran with the receiver step for step and the ball sailed long. After a couple of short runs, Wentz went back to Jackson, but his throw was a touch high. and before the receiver could pull it in corner Bennett Jackson knocked the ball out. After the set, Wentz walked all the way over to DeSean Jackson and they spoke for a bit.
They connected later in the red zone on a comeback route. Wentz had to wait for Jackson to turn, but he got away with it because he had extra grease on his throw. Running back Miles Sanders darted outside behind pulling center Jason Kelce for a nice gain. Wentz heaved another deep ball, and this one had a nice arc for Jeffery to run under, but he was a step short of reaching it. Corner Brandon Carr may have gotten away with a grab. The quarterback bounced back with a bullet to receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on a comeback route vs. Smith. Wentz hit Mack Hollins for a touchdown after the receiver got inside Carr. But he ended his day with a throwaway after the Ravens doubled Jackson in the end zone.
5. Josh McCown took the first series of reps with the second-unit offense, but Cody Kessler was out of concussion protocol and split time -- as did rookie Clayton Thorson -- with the new Eagles quarterback. McCown handed off on his first six snaps. Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood, and Boston Scott had varying degrees of success. Adams appeared to have the most production. Pumphrey couldn’t handle a blitz on McCown’s first drop and Jones recorded a sack.
The Eagles were called for holding on successive run plays. Kessler hit Richard Rodgers on a short cross. The tight end looked awkward turning upfield and fell to the ground in obvious pain and visible frustration. As he was carted off, Rodgers dropped his head in his hands and then draped a towel over his end. Not good signs. Kessler stared down Hollins on his next pass and a lineman tipped the ball incomplete.
McCown checked down to Adams for his first successful throw but was sacked on the next play when linebacker Aaron Adeoye rushed inside tackle Matt Pryor. McCown dropped a low snap, scooped it up, and heaved one toward receiver Carlton Agudosi, but the pass was short and Agudosi turned into a defender to break it up. Pryor was penalized for a false start. McCown hit Hollins on a slant and dumped to tight end Josh Perkins underneath. Kessler had trouble vs. the blitz on successive plays and was swallowed up in the pocket on the latter.
6. Thorson got a little late work with the second unit -- the Eagles used only two -- and the rookie continued to show improvement. He was tagged down on his first drop when linebacker Tim Williams skirted around new tackle Brett Toth. “Sack!” Williams yelled, stating the obvious. Thorson got hot in the red zone. He floated one to Arcega-Whiteside on a corner route and hit receiver Marken Michel on an out route for back-to-back touchdown passes.
7. My only look at the Eagles defense came in one-on-one drills. Derek Barnett excelled during his reps. He undressed Ravens offensive lineman R.J. Prince with a filthy inside spin move. Kelce anchored well vs. all 336 pounds of a Brandon Williams bull rush. Seumalo was strong against a Chris Wormley swim move. Andre Dillard took his reps at right tackle for a change. Why, when the rookie’s been working exclusively at left tackle? My guess is that the Eagles are safe-proofing in case Johnson isn’t ready by the opener. If Halapoulivaati Vaitai has to play right guard in place of Brandon Brooks (Achilles), the Eagles may trust Dillard more than Mailata. Of course, Big V could move to right tackle, but that would leave a hole at right guard.
Dillard got beat by linebacker Matthew Judon later, but it could have been because of dehydration. He needed trainer assistance and didn’t participate in team drills. Defensive ends Vinny Curry and Shareef Miller had a couple of rushes where they were blocked to the ground. Can’t sack quarterbacks on your knees, boys. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson ripped by Prince.