1. The Eagles held their longest-scheduled practice of camp. For two hours and 40 minutes, they toiled in pads and intense heat. There weren’t live tackling sessions, but we should see some full-contact drills on Saturday after Friday’s off day. We’re a week in and the defense has performed better, in my opinion, than the offense. That is often the case because there are often more moving parts on offense, but with all the talent the Eagles have on that side of the ball, I’d thought they’d have more success early, especially against a defensive unit that has been without five or six starters. Four of five primary defensive backs on the first team made multiple impressive plays Thursday. Cornerback Sidney Jones notched an early red zone interception when Carson Wentz and tight end Richard Rodgers had a mix-up. Jones’s best moment might have come later in the red zone when Wentz, on his third read, threw to Nelson Agholor, who had broken off his route. Jones was on the receiver, who worked back toward Wentz, like glue, and he broke up the pass. A similar scenario occurred a little later. No one was open, so Wentz dumped to tight end Zach Ertz, but safety Malcolm Jenkins was there and batted the ball away. Earlier, Maddox had excellent coverage on Agholor on a deep route. Wentz, after he was forced to his right, threw at his receiver hoping he’d turn back on his shoulder. But Maddox played his man and Agholor was nowhere near the ball when it finally arrived.
2. Rasul Douglas made several plays, but my favorite came vs. Agholor on a deep post. Wentz moved to his right on a designed roll out. I’m not sure how the play got the centerfield safety to vacate the middle, but it was Agholor vs. Douglas and the receiver had some space. The ball might have been slightly underthrown, but Agholor got his hands on it. He probably should have caught it. In fact, Agholor told me to write it and gave me the headline: “Nelson isn’t going to get a $100 million contract if he can’t catch jump balls.” But Douglas deserved some credit. He was right there, and when the corner fell on his back, Agholor kiddingly punched him a few times. I should note that the receiver was unstoppable during red zone 3-on-3 drills. He connected with Wentz on nearly every throw that came his way, including a back-of-the-end-zone snag that was nifty.
3. The Eagles have been relatively healthy at camp, which I noted sometime late during the workout, which, of course, meant that someone would get hurt. In this case, it was Miles Sanders, although it didn’t appear serious. The rookie running back spun away from safety Andrew Sendejo at the line and got hit awkwardly by the next defender (I couldn’t tell who) before falling to the grass. He stayed down as trainers ran out and looked at his left foot. He eventually made his way to the medical tent without assistance but returned to watch the rest of practice. Coach Doug Pederson confirmed that it was a foot injury, but that there would be further testing. Sanders caught passes from the JUGs machine after practice and told reporters that he was good. Running back Corey Clement (knee) participated in 7-on-7 drills for the first time this camp. Team drills shouldn’t be that far away. The Eagles had no other new additions to their injury list. Cornerback Jalen Mills (foot), cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot), receiver Mack Hollins (lower body soft tissue) and linebacker Paul Worrilow (injury unknown, probably knee) didn’t practice. Receiver DeSean Jackson was given an over-30 day off from team drills.
4. The Wentz-Ertz connection was alive and well today. They’ve had their share of completions in camp thus far, but I’ve probably taken it for granted. Ertz’s best catch didn’t count. A pass from about the 10-yard line was tipped by a linebacker (my apologies, again, for not catching that speeding car), but Ertz maintained his concentration and pulled it in with one hand. He got only one foot in, though, in the back of the end zone. That didn’t stop center Jason Kelce from celebrating. A series later, Ertz did score a touchdown when he found a hole in zone coverage.
5. Joe Ostman came back down to earth Thursday. Jim Schwartz had him as a “Joker” again during first team drills, but Kelce denied him entry into the backfield. The defensive end dropped tackle Jordan Mailata’s pants with another inside spin move during one-on-ones, But Mailata rebounded on their next turn. Ostman couldn’t get around undrafted rookie tackle Casey Tucker with two outside speed rushes. Some other highlights from one-on-ones: Andre Dillard was Mr. Clean vs. Vinny Curry. Guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai corralled defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, but had trouble fending off Josh Sweat from the tackle spot. Defensive tackle Malik Jackson beat guard Isaac Seumalo with a little swim move. And defensive end Daeshon Hall got Dillard off his heels with his hands. Dillard, it should be noted, returned the favor and stoned Hall on the next rush.
6. Greg Ward deserves some mention. The receiver has caught nearly everything thrown his way and Eagles coaches are paying notice. He’s been the second slot receiver behind Agholor. He probably had the catch of the day when he reeled in a back-shoulder pass from quarterback Nate Sudfeld. Ward stands only 5-foot-11, but he has a pretty good vertical and had to rise for that ball. Receiver Carlton Agudosi has raised some eyebrows, and not just because of his 6-foot-6 frame. I missed most of 7-on-7 drills, but he apparently made some nice snags in the end zone. He didn’t perform as well in team drills. He failed to pull in a jump ball, although credit should also be given to cornerback Josh Hawkins. He had a wobbly Clayton Thorson fade clang off his hands, and he dropped a short toss from Sudfeld.
7. I did catch the end of red zone 7 on 7s, and there were some noteworthy moments. Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill read Wentz’s eyes and plucked a pass with some extra mustard out of the air for an interception. Douglas broke up a corner fade to receiver Alshon Jeffery, but Wentz recovered and hit receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on a skinny post route into the end zone. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Wentz’s earlier touchdown pass to Darren Sproles. The veteran running back caught the short toss just over the goal line and dipped his body before Sendejo rifled through. Sproles bounced up and emphatically spiked the ball.
8. You want some third team offense highlights, right? Well, there weren’t many. The best moment may have been hearing Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell over the loudspeakers during one red zone set. It was appropriately the hit, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” I initially took it as a song of hope for Thorson, as in no mountain or valley could keep him from becoming an NFL quarterback, but the more often he held the ball or threw errantly to receivers, the more the song seemed to be mocking his inability to complete even the simplest of passes. I still can’t figure out what he was doing on one throw. He rolled right and had two receivers in routes. They were covered, but rather than stretch the play out – he was under zero pressure – he threw the ball away (maybe?) into the end zone. Thorson did end practice with a 20-yard lace to receiver Marken Michel.