1. The Eagles are officially in the dog days portion of camp. They had a rest day Friday but were back in pads for a two-hour-plus workout. It was also the last practice with live tackling and things got a little testy late during O-line/D-line one-on-one drills. Rookie defensive end Shareef Miller had two straight rushes against undrafted rookie tackle Casey Tucker. On the second, Tucker kept blocking Miller into the ground long after a whistle would have blown. He was clearly brewing for a fight. Miller took a while to respond, but when he finally got up, he uncorked a left paw that knocked Tucker’s helmet off. A scrum with other linemen getting involved ensued, but the whole incident ended rather quickly. A brief note on Miller, the Eagles’ fourth-round pick: He looks to be the perfect rookie candidate to land on injured reserve with a – wink-wink, nod-nod – season-long injury. The Eagles have plenty of depth at end and Miller will likely need a year of strength training to develop an NFL body.
2. A lot of NFL teams don’t tackle to the ground for obvious reasons. Some coaches believe it’s a necessary part of camp, however, to get players on both sides of the ball ready for when the bullets start flying. But injuries are more likely to happen, and the Eagles suffered one when linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill went down with an apparent knee injury. He hurt himself tackling running back Jordan Howard and almost immediately clutched his left knee. Grugier-Hill was eventually carted to the medical tent. When he emerged, he limped into the locker room by himself. Doug Pederson didn’t have an update after practice. Grugier-Hill was having a good camp. He routinely made plays on a daily basis. Earlier, before the injury, quarterback Carson Wentz dropped to throw a slant to receiver Alshon Jeffery inside the 5-yard line, but Grugier-Hill rushed off the edge and batted the ball down. The Eagles provided an injury report before practice. Tight end Richard Rodgers (foot), a new addition, and receiver Mack Hollins (hip) were day to day. Linebacker Paul Worrilow (knee) was week to week. Cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot sprain) was “multiple weeks.” And cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) was still on PUP.
3. It’s difficult to simulate game conditions in run drills without tackling. The Eagles offense, overall, struggled on the ground during the first live practice day, but it bounced back. Josh Adams had the best practice of the running backs, in my opinion. He was hard to bring down. On his first live carry, he slipped out of two lower-body tackle attempts – by safety Tre Sullivan and linebacker Nate Gerry – and picked up about 10 yards. He scored a touchdown from about a yard out running behind tackle Lane Johnson. And he gained another 10 yards or so after shedding Sullivan again. Adams was earlier met in the backfield by defensive end Josh Sweat, but it was only a “thud” period, so who knows, maybe he could have broken another tackle. Running the ball isn’t the problem for Adams. He still struggles with blocking, as he showed again Saturday, and is just a passable receiver. Miles Sanders practiced two days after he injured his foot. While he didn’t partake in team drills – likely as a precaution – he did do some other drills. Sanders fared well in pass protection. He shielded off linebacker Alex Singelton and hung with linebacker T.J. Edwards. During one-on-one receiving drills, he cruised by Grugier-Hill and caught a 25-yard-or-so pass – albeit with a slight bobble.
4. Andre Dillard has been earning raves during his first camp, but reality – if reality’s name were Brandon Graham -- smacked him in the face Saturday. Dillard has mostly had to contend with Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat at left tackle. But Graham and Curry switched sides and Dillard had trouble with the former’s bull rush, especially during one-on-ones. Graham’s low center of gravity and the tremendous power he generates from his legs makes him a tough assignment for any tackle. But he easily drove Dillard back on his first rush and tipped the rookie to one side on the next. Dillard has looked as smooth as silk vs. inside-outside moves, but it’s clear he still needs to gain NFL strength. One other note on pass-rush drills: Joe Ostman hasn’t looked as good when matched up against tackles not named Jordan Mailata.
5. Before practice I noted to another reporter that it appeared as if Sidney Jones was now entrenched on the outside and Avonte Maddox in the slot. But they again swapped positions. On one of the first team drills, Jones blitzed from the slot, but Wentz lofted a dime to receiver DeSean Jackson down the sideline after he had gotten by Maddox. Rasul Douglas has consistently been on the other side. He’s had a solid camp and was able to display one of the traits that adds value to his game: tackling. Donnel Pumphrey avoided Grugier Hill near the line on one rush, but Douglas followed up and popped the running back.
6. In the Andy Reid era and in Pederson’s first three seasons, the Eagles, when they’ve had tackling, have typically pitted the first units vs. the second. But Pederson made a change this year and has had one vs. one and two vs. two. “The ones -- they really know how to practice against each other,” Pederson said. “They can still go hard and get good work in. We can still tackle to the ground.”
Here’s a running diary of the first team during live tackling drills: Howard was cut down at the line by Curry and safety Andrew Sendejo. Wentz hit Zach Ertz on a quick out after the tight end beat Sendejo. Wentz hit receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside over the middle with a nice toss. On goal line drills, Howard waltzed into the end zone after tackle Jason Peters cleared out the left. Wentz hit Ertz in the back right of the end zone after looking off his first two reads on the left, but a rusher eased up, allowing him plenty of time. Curry knifed into the backfield and “sacked” Wentz.
7. Second team: Running back Wendell Smallwood took a flip from quarterback Nate Sudfeld and zoomed past Edwards and had a head-on collision with Jeremiah McKinnon. The cornerback took the brunt and left. McKinnon eventually returned. Ostman tackled Adams in the backfield, but an awkward handoff probably killed the play. Miller led the way in a goal-line stop of running back Boston Scott and appeared to get credit for a “sack” on the next play. Center Stefen Wisniewski rolled another snap. Sudfeld strung together several throws on his last drive. He hit receiver Braxton Miller on a comeback route. He darted a play-action pass to tight end Josh Perkins over the middle. And he connected with tight end Dallas Goedert in the back corner for a touchdown.
8. Third team: Scott dropped linebacker Zach Brown’s jock near the line and shrugged off cornerback Jay Liggins on a long run. A quick note on Brown: He’s been consistently behind Grugier-Hill and Gerry at linebacker and hasn’t impressed at all. A veteran, Brown may be the type whoe doesn’t show up until the games. He may not have that kind of grace period, but Grugier-Hill’s injury could bring urgency. Defensive tackle Kevin Wilkins dropped Pumphrey for a loss. Safety Deiondre’ Hall diagnosed a screen to Pumphrey and skirted around center Nate Herbig. Rookie quarterback Clayton Thorson didn’t take a single rep during live drills. Weird.