1. The Eagles were in pads for the first time this camp, in fact it was the first time they could officially hit someone since the end of last season. There wasn’t “live” tackling, but there were contact during “thud” periods. Linebacker Alex Singleton provided the first “pop” when he shot into the backfield and knocked running back Josh Adams to the ground. Josh was again on the receiving end when safety Andrew Sendejo nonchalantly pummeled him to the turf. Singleton, who previously played in the CFL, brought some edge. He had another collision with running back Boston Scott and dropped him again with a blow just milliseconds after he caught a short pass. It was kind of cheap, and coach Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could be seen admonishing the linebacker. I wonder if they secretly, especially Schwartz, liked his aggressiveness. Scott later walked inside with a trainer, but he returned and said he was fine after practice.
2. Sidney Jones was Camper of the Day, in my eyes. His coverage on Alshon Jeffery and other receivers was tight, he had a highlight-reel interception and he did all this in pads with contact. Jones is slight and there are still questions about his ability to fend off larger wideouts – and stay healthy -- but he kept Jeffery in check. Jeffery needed to make a couple of ridiculous short catches because Jones gave up very little space. The second grab came on third down and was short of the marker. Quarterback Carson Wentz later tried to hit DeSean Jackson on a crosser, but Jones ran with the receiver and the pass was thrown slightly behind incomplete. Receiver Mack Hollins got behind Jones on a deep route, and backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw to him on the run as he moved right, but the ball floated. Jones caught up, turned back and tipped the ball to himself as he fell backward. He bobbled it for a moment but held on. Jones played exclusively on the outside. I think that’s where he should stay.
3. There was one other audible hit that rose above the thumping bass of practice music. Running back Miles Sanders took a handoff from Wentz and immediately got chopped down by defensive end Vinny Curry. “I didn’t see him,” Sanders said after practice. Curry gleefully danced as his defensive teammates whooped it up. Sanders later approached him. “I said, ‘What’s up, bro?’ What was that?” Sanders said, laughing. “He said, ‘I actually thought you were Jordan Howard.’” Nevertheless, it could be labeled as Sanders’ Welcome-to-the-NFL moment. He didn’t take another repetition, but he said only because the team was still easing him back in following his spring hamstring strain. I’m still anxious to see more of Sanders. He once dropped a short pass from Wentz and grabbed his helmet in frustration.
4. Wentz has had better practices. It didn’t get off to a good start when he stared down Jeffery on a seam route and was intercepted by linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill during 7-on-7 drills. Grugier-Hill ran it back and started to stiff arm Wentz before he realized the error of trying to knock the franchise quarterback on his rear. Wentz missed several makeable throws, notably two deep passes to Jackson and receiver Nelson Agholor after they broke free on deep go routes. The arc of his long throws seemed too flat. Wentz, to his credit, gathered his starting receivers after practice and worked on their timing. He did have some nice passes, the best probably a 25-yardish BB to tight end Dallas Goedert.
5. The Goedert completion was a good example of how the Eagles can exploit defenses that stay in base vs. “12” personnel (two tight ends). On the play, tight end Zach Ertz split wide to the right with Jeffery inside in the slot. The defense didn’t alter its coverage as Jones stayed outside over Ertz and linebacker Zach Brown lined up opposite Jeffery, indicating zone coverage. Goedert, meanwhile, ran an intermediate sideline route from an in-line, three-point stance, that found a hole in the zone. Goedert has a chance to be special. He earlier showed his receiving skills with a one-handed grab, and more than held his own during one-on-one blocking drills.
6. Josh Sweat caught my eye in the spring with his performance and effort, and that hasn’t changed thus far this camp. He’s been mostly matched up against rookie left tackle Andre Dillard and he’s won more than his share. On successive plays during one set, Sweat overpowered the Eagles’ top pick and used his hands to get around. Dillard, who is clearly in the early-learning phase of his career, bounced back a series later. I can’t wait to see when those two are matched in one-on-ones. Dillard and second team right tackle Jordan Mailata have been getting the occasional first team rep when Jason Peters and Lane Johnson have been given breaks.
7. While it was disappointing not to see Sanders in one-on-one blocking drills – his ability to develop in that discipline will go a long way in deciding how much he plays on third downs – there were some interesting takeaways from the period. Howard was down then up. He lunged and linebacker L.J. Fort scooted by him during his first attempt, but he rebounded on his next chance and handled linebacker Nate Gerry. Goedert was a stud vs. Sendejo. Adams did virtually little to impede linebacker T.J. Edwards. Running back Wendell Smallwood did a nice job vs. Singleton. Grugier-Hill simply overpowered running back Donnell Pumphrey.
8. Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc was absent for the second straight day. He was later seen in a boot using a roll-a-bout to get around. The Eagles declined to update his injury, but it isn’t considered serious, a source said. Safety Blake Countess watched practice, as did cornerback Jalen Mills (foot). Running back Corey Clement (knee) fielded punts and did individual work. He said he should be cleared to participate in team drills sometime next week.
9. And a few leftovers … Quarterback Clayton Thorson is still experiencing rookie growing pains. I’ve yet to see him complete a pass over ten yards during team drills this camp. … Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan was credited with a sack. … NBA all-star and Philly-Villanova product Kyle Lowry was a guest of the Eagles. He spoke with Wentz after practice. ... The Eagles have off Sunday but return for four straights days of practice Monday.