The Eagles held their fourth practice of training camp Monday.
1. On Saturday, Carson Wentz’s timing with DeSean Jackson was off. He missed makeable throws to other receivers down the field. No biggie. But Wentz, as he’s now done after each practice, spent extra time with Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. The additional work appeared to pay off Monday. Wentz and Jackson hooked up several times, and most impressively on back-to-back throws during team drills. The first completion occurred when Jackson ran about a 20-yard out vs. a deep zone. Wentz read the defense correctly and lofted a strike to his receiver. They followed that up with about a 40-yard touchdown. Jackson got well behind cornerback Avonte Maddox and Wentz tossed it up. Jackson had to wait a moment for the ball, but he was so wide open that it didn’t matter. I should note that a blind-side rusher appeared to ease up as Wentz uncorked his throw.
Jackson, earlier, caught a short screen and jetted upfield, although the defensive kid gloves were on. Wentz would later connect with the speedy receiver on a sideline route. Jackson appeared to get both feet inbounds. Wentz, after practice, said he has spent a decent amount of time with Jackson away from the field working on their chemistry, whether it be just talking about the offense and how each other sees the field or watching film together. Communication is an important component of building trust.
2. Miles Sanders has been relatively quiet since the start of camp, partly because the Eagles have given him a light workload as he returns from a hamstring strain. But he had some productive touches Monday. He’s explosive through the hole and he runs close to the ground. He can move laterally, with just a little hop, and maintain his speed as he did on one carry. And he’s not afraid to lower his shoulder at the end of a run. Cornerback Josh Hawkins didn’t seem to appreciate the contact on one rush. A series later, after backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld dumped to Sanders, Hawkins came flying in. But Sanders again lowered his shoulder, stood his ground and held onto the ball as Hawkins tried to strip him.
» EARLY BIRDS: Could Miles Sanders usurp Jordan Howard?
3. Speaking of rookies, tackle Andre Dilliard stood out during one-on-one drills. Matched up against defensive end Vinny Curry, he showed all the physical traits the Eagles have been promoting since he was drafted – quick feet, strong hands and balance. Curry was stoned on both rushes vs. Dillard, who has been playing exclusively at left tackle. He’s had his share of losses against defensive end Josh Sweat in teams drills, which shouldn’t cause much concern, but it’s a reminder that he’s far from a finished product.
» READ MORE: The Eagles’ plans for Andre Dillard
4. Speaking of far from a finished product – notice the theme? – Jordan Mailata appeared to have a rough day. It almost looks comical watching defensive end Joe Ostman rush against Mailata. There’s about a 100-pound difference between the two. But Ostman has given the right tackle some problems. He beat Mailata inside on a draw play, for example, and met running back Josh Adams in the backfield for a would-be tackle for loss. During one on ones, Mailata got caught flat-footed by defensive end Daeshon Hall. Second-year guard Matt Pryor was another standout during rush drills, but we’ve seen that before.
5. I’ve tried to take it slow with rookie quarterback Clayton Thorson, but I’m starting to wonder if he has the arm strength to play at this level. He rolled out to his right on one team drill, had all sorts of time to cock and throw the ball deep to a wide-open Braxton Miller, but his pass fluttered in the air like one of Wentz’s hunting targets. Miller had no shot and safety Godwin Igwebuike nearly recovered to make the interception. There was hardly any wind today, but just to make sure, I grabbed some grass, tossed it in the air – caddie style – and it landed at my feet. Sure, it was just one throw, but he has consistently been inconsistent on intermediate-to-deep throws since the spring. He did have a nice toss on a 15-yard comeback route just inside the numbers.
6. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan has been taking advantage of his time with the first team with Fletcher Cox (foot) still being held out of team drills. I don’t mean to suggest that he will supplant the all pro, or even the newly-acquired Malik Jackson, but Jernigan could turn into the Eagles’ comeback player. He made it clear in the spring that he viewed the signing of Jackson as a challenge. Good for him. He recorded a would-be tackle for loss when he sliced inside and cut down running back Jordan Howard.
7. Mack Hollins was back on the shelf Monday. He came out in pads and participated in warm-ups but was suddenly absent from individual drills. The receiver later returned to watch the end of practice, but he could be out for several more days. Doug Pederson would only say that his injury was unrelated to the groin injury he suffered last season and that it was “lower body.” Hollins said it was of the soft-tissue nature but didn’t give more detail. Linebacker Paul Worrilow, who is coming back from a torn ACL, watched practice with an unspecified injury. Safety Blake Countess returned. Of the existing injured players, safety Rodney McLeod appeared to be the only one to make any progress in terms of his participation. He took a few repetitions during 7-on-7 drills.
» READ MORE: Mack Hollins says new injury isn’t serious
8. New Eagles cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who was signed after Cre’Von LeBlanc went down with a foot sprain, partook in his first practice and played in the slot. Some other highlights: A practice after Sidney Jones shined, Rasul Douglas took his turn in the spotlight. The cornerback made an impressive one-handed interception when Wentz threw to receiver Alshon Jeffery deep during three on threes. Howard was open after releasing out of the backfield, but Wentz threw wide of the running back. Defensive tackle Haasan Ridgeway was credited with sacking Sudfeld. Wentz strung together back-to-back man-defense-beating passes to tight end Zach Ertz (vs. safety Malcolm Jenkins) and receiver Nelson Agholor (vs. Jones). Running back Boston Scott ran over safety Trae Elston, but he probably would have been flagged for lowering his helmet. Howard couldn’t catch a dump by Wentz that was a touch short. Tight end Josh Perkins dropped multiple passes today. Receiver Shelton Gibson couldn’t hang onto a gimme toss from Wentz.
9. And a few leftovers … Jake Elliott was 4 of 6 on field goal attempts. He was good from 33, 33, 43 and 48, but was wide right from 38 and hooked a 48-yard try. … Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie made his first appearance at camp.