The Eagles held their tenth practice of training camp on Thursday. Here's what I saw:
-- While I try my best to accurately report what happened at practice, and will often confirm what I thought I might have seen on the field – re: Marcus Smith is still struggling or Dillon Gordon has some ability -- my observations and analysis only offer part of the story. That is why I often have to include qualifiers in my accounts. There is often a story behind the story, or an explanation, as to why X player beat Y player or why Z player threw an interception. For instance, there were a couple of encounters between Beau Allen and Jason Kelce on Wednesday (that didn't get into my post) that appeared to signify one thing, but upon further reporting, were something slightly different. Kelce got the better of Allen during a goal line drill in which the center sidestepped the penetrating defensive tackle and tossed him to the ground. To most it would have appeared that Kelce owned Allen. But when I spoke to Allen later, he explained that Kelce's technique was gimmicky and that he could only pull it off because he knew Allen's objective. Under different circumstances, Kelce's move could have gotten his running back mauled. Flashing forward to one-on-ones, Allen steamrolled Kelce during their matchup. It was no contest. To the naked eye, it looked like Allen owned Kelce. But as Allen later explained it, he only had that much success because he lined up right over the ball – as payback – and unfairly took advantage of Kelce not being able to set. It was all done in gamesmanship, of course. Allen and Kelce are not only teammates, but close friends. Now onto Thursday's speculative observations (that's a joke) …
-- Depth chart notes: Defensive tackle Mike Martin and defensive end Brandon Graham, for the second day in a row, spent most of practice with the first team defense in place of Bennie Logan and Vinny Curry, respectively. Again, the switch doesn't mean much in the long run because there will be a rotation. Martin continued to impress. His get off is his best attribute. He stormed past Stefen Wisniewski on one team drill and all the guard could do to stop him was grab his jersey. Martin also did well during one on ones.
-- Injuries shook up the depth chart some. Safety Malcolm Jenkins left practice early with a hamstring injury. I'm fairly certain that he didn't miss a single practice all of last season. With Jenkins out, Ed Reynolds got some first team repetitions alongside Rodney McLeod. I wouldn't read too much into that. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz made it clear after practice that the third safety spot is wide open, and that he wasn't necessarily happy with how the contenders – Jaylen Watkins, Blake Countess, and Chris Maragos are the others – have fared. Schwartz unloaded on Watkins when he missed an assignment during run drills. Jason Peters went down (again), but this time the tackle left practice with a quadriceps injury. Soft tissue injuries are commonplace during training camp, but Peters' health has to be closely monitored. The Eagles have been giving the 34-year-old spells during practice. With Peters out, Matt Tobin took first team reps at left tackle. Running backs Ryan Mathews (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (quad) didn't practice again, and neither did guard Brandon Brooks (hamstring).
-- I haven't written much about Fletcher Cox this camp, but he looked especially motivated on Thursday. During run drills, he must have pushed guard Allen Barbre back about four yards during one play. He followed that up a few plays later by bum rushing Kelce and blowing up a rush in the backfield. Cox destroyed offensive lineman Barrett Jones during one-on-ones. It wasn't even fair. Late in practice, Cox jumped into the fray during a brief line skirmish and tossed a lineman (I couldn't catch who it was) to the ground. Cox, paid this offseason and made for Schwartz's scheme, should have another monster season.
-- Curry had the highlight rush during one on ones. He gave tackle Dennis Kelly a little shake that tipped him off balance and then went in for the kill with a bull rush that knocked – Timbbbbeeeeerrrr! – Kelly on his rear. Kelly, to his credit, bounced back on Curry's next rush and ran him outside. But that earlier moment won't show up well on film. I'll have more on Curry in my newspaper column. Rookie guard Isaac Seumalo had some strong moments. He has solid technique. He tied Logan up with his hands on one rush, and was able to hop-hop-hop and keep defensive tackle Taylor Hart in front. I'd imagine former Eagles offensive line coach Howard Mudd would have loved to work with Seumalo. Smith fared better against Gordon than he did on Wednesday. He looked motivated.
-- Sam Bradford was on point during red zone drills. He was 6 of 9 during his set – with three "touchdowns" – and could have had two more scores had tight ends Trey Burton and Brent Celek held onto balls that weren't perfect but hit them in the hands. Bradford hit receiver Jordan Matthews streaking down the sideline for the first score, he connected with receiver Chris Givens on virtually the same route, and he floated a fade to Burton in the corner of the end zone.
-- Chase Daniel had one of his worst days since becoming an Eagle. He was clearly frustrated. It happens. He overthrew an open Zach Ertz early, was intercepted by Watkins during 7 on 7s, and was picked off by cornerback Jalen Mills. His teammates didn't help him either. The line struggled and gave up sacks to Curry and linebacker Najee Goode on one set. Receiver David Walton dropped a ball that Daniel placed in his bucket. Mills has had his rookie moments – receiver Rueben Randle got him in the back of the end zone on a slant – but he showed his ball skills by wrestling the interception from Randle, who may have given less than 100 percent. Carson Wentz had a solid day -- particularly in the red zone and with corner fade throws. He hooked up with Burton and Randle on the route. He also hit running back Byron Marshall on a wheel route.
-- And a few notes … Receiver Josh Huff ran several jet sweeps. Defensive end Steven Means did a fine job of snuffing one out at the line. … Marshall displayed a knack for blocking during one-on-one drills. He wasn't asked to block much at Oregon, but it's a requirement in this offense. Running back Cedric O'Neal was another story. … Undrafted rookie receiver Paul Turner keeps popping up on offense. He's gotten some first team slot reps. He isn't big (5-10, 193), but he's caught almost everything thrown his way.