Good morning, Eagles fans. It’s an especially good morning, too, considering the Eagles are back on the field for their third day of true, padded training-camp practices. The first two days of camp have been the closest this offseason has gotten to normal since the onset of the pandemic.
The practices have been competitive, and the intensity should only ratchet up more as the season opener nears without any preseason games to get guys ready. Partly thanks to the mild weather and to the length of practice, the sessions haven’t exactly been arduous for the players.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he’d hold two live-contact practices over the next few weeks, but it’s unclear when they’ll happen. Those practices will likely be the most important days for players battling for roster spots, although there’s a fine balance between making sure the starting units are ready and evaluating the 53rd guy on the roster.
— EJ Smith (email@example.com)
Jim Schwartz is on the market for a second outside cornerback to start opposite Darius Slay.
During the previous phase of training camp last month, the Eagles defensive coordinator said there’d be an open competition for the spot vacated by Jalen Mills’ move to safety. The Eagles have a handful of players in the running, although Avonte Maddox has taken the majority of the snaps with the first team.
The 5-foot-9 corner was the front-runner heading into camp, and it’s starting to look like the competition will be his to lose, just don’t tell him that.
“Every day we’re out there competing,” Maddox said. “We have a great group. It’s just there, and we go out there and compete. We always work to help each other and get better. Right now, it’s not about whose position it is [to lose], it’s just about going out and getting better each and every day and working as one unit. Everyone’s going to play, you’ve seen that in the past few seasons.”
Maddox has played slot cornerback, safety, and outside corner for the Eagles. The team reworked the secondary this offseason with players able to operate out of different positions to allow Slay to follow the opposing team’s best receiver.
Maddox fits that bill, Schwartz said.
“We like the flexibility of guys that can go inside and outside,” Schwartz said. “[Maddox] has got some of that background that helps him play all of those different spots. [LeBlanc] has sort of been an inside player for the most part for us, but he’s played outside.”
The third-year defensive back played 400 snaps as a slot cornerback and logged 136 out wide last season, according to Pro Football Focus. During his rookie year, he even played safety for a handful of games.
While the transition on the outside may appear daunting, especially for a 5-foot-9, 184-pound corner, Maddox said his college experience covering outside has made the switch more comfortable.
“I’ve been playing corner in college for four years straight,” Maddox said. “It’s not really new, I’m just getting back to the feel of it moving back from the inside and in the back at safety, but I’m very used to it, once I get the feel back.”
How is Davion Taylor looking in camp? Hearing a lot about Sean Bradley and crickets with Taylor. — from 10 Second Spin (@BullyPullpit) on Twitter.
Good question, 10. The short answer is Taylor hasn’t popped much, if at all, so far. The reason you’re hearing about Bradley more is because he’s not only been ahead of Taylor on the depth chart in these early days, but also because he’s made a few plays in the last two practices. Bradley is a year older and has an extra season of college experience over Taylor, and that’s not accounting for the disparity in high school experience, with Taylor playing just one varsity game.
Here’s what Jim Schwartz said when my fine colleague Paul Domowitch asked if the defensive coordinator expects Taylor to progress quickly enough to play more than just special teams this season.
“That’s yet to be seen, but I will say this: Linebacker and safety are two of the most difficult positions for guys to get up to speed with, that’s including having a full offseason program for rookies, OTAs, minicamps, a full preseason schedule and preseason games. So their learning has to be accelerated. [Taylor, Bradley, and safety K’Von Wallace] are really smart guys and have adapted well, now it’s just as a matter of accumulating as many reps as we can get, and when we do have those heavy contact practices, those are going to be really important in our evaluations.”