Good morning, Eagles fans! It is a good day, because the Eagles just surpassed the one-week mark of training camp and we’re quickly approaching the team’s preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 12. Which rookies should you be most excited to see based on the first week of training camp?
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It’s very early yet, but we’re starting to get a sense of which Eagles rookies could see the field this year and which ones might need more seasoning. Below, we’ll quickly hit on each member of the 2021 draft class.
DeVonta Smith: The former Alabama star had a handful of bright moments, including a deep touchdown catch during seven-on-sevens, but suffered a sprained MCL last weekend. Whether he plays in the final preseason game or not remains to be seen.
Landon Dickerson: The interior lineman started the year on the non-football-injury list and hasn’t practiced. The lone note I can give you is that he’s massive, not quite Jordan Mailata-sized but close.
Milton Williams: He’s had a few encouraging reps during one-on-ones and has played all over the defensive line so far. He beat Andre Dillard during pass-rushing drills Tuesday, taking advantage of Dillard‘s oversetting with a quick inside move.
Zech McPhearson: It’s safe to say McPhearson has been the most promising rookie outside of Smith during camp. He’s gotten his hands on most passes thrown his way, to the point that he’s more upset that he’s not getting pick-sixes than he is about anything else.
Kenny Gainwell: The gadget back hasn’t exactly popped during camp, but he’s had a few nice moments. Still, he’s getting plenty of first-team reps and will likely get every opportunity to shine during the preseason.
Marlon Tuipulotu: He’s had a couple of solid one-on-one reps, but outside of that has been relatively quiet during team drills.
Tarron Jackson: The former Coastal Carolina standout has been another bright spot. He had a really competitive rush against Mailata during one-on-ones. I gave the win to Mailata, but it was close.
Jacoby Stevens: It’s been pretty quiet for Stevens. Nothing he’s done during team periods has made my notebook.
Patrick Johnson: Same goes for Johnson. Haven’t noticed anything either way.
What you need to know about the Eagles
If you’re looking for updates on more than just the rookies, be sure to check out Jeff McLane’s daily practice observations. As McLane notes, Nick Sirianni got noticeably frustrated with his receivers Tuesday.
Speaking of those receivers, Jalen Reagor said Sirianni held him accountable for failing a conditioning test last week. As yours truly reports, the 22-year-old was grateful for his coach’s response.
We’re getting our first looks at what Sirianni’s offense will look like. As McLane details, the foundational concepts don’t exactly play to Jalen Hurts’ strengths.
Mailata and Dillard are in the midst of a battle for the starting left-tackle job. Josh Tolentino takes stock of where they stand, and breaks down why Mailata has the upper hand so far.
Remember 2016, when Carson Wentz, Ben Simmons and Mickey Moniak were all high draft picks with endless potential? Mike Sielski explains how the trio has defined an “era of missed opportunity.”
From the mailbag
“I’d like to know what’s different about Jonathan Gannon’s defense than last year’s defense coached by Jim Schwartz?” — from SResnick (@SResnick9) on Twitter
Thanks for the question. The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far is the defensive front. Schwartz’s scheme was pretty straightforward: Line up a 4-3 front and allow your defensive linemen to do whatever it takes to get into the backfield and be disruptive.
Gannon has employed a significant number of 3-4 looks or 4-3 under fronts, with four down linemen and a strong-side linebacker on the line of scrimmage on the outside shoulder of the tight end. From the sounds of it, the Eagles will use both odd- and even-man fronts under Gannon, but any use of a 3-4 front will be a departure from Schwartz’s scheme.