The Eagles held their second practice of training camp on Tuesday. The first three days of practice will consist of just quarterbacks, rookies and selected veterans – about half of the 90-man roster. Here's what I saw:
-- Jim Schwartz is a must-follow at practice. He walks with a cocky arrogance, but if I'm the head coach I want my defensive coordinator to bring that kind of attitude to the more emotional side of the ball. Schwartz isn't shy about letting the players know exactly how he feels about their performance. "You gonna cover anyone today?" he barked at what seemed like the entire unit during an early drill. "Get your heads out your [posteriors]," he yelled a little later. Rookie linebacker Joe Walker responded to the rhetoric and had tight coverage on a pass thrown underneath. "Now that's more like it," Schwartz said. During 7 on 7s, Schwartz likes to position himself where the defensive line would typically be. He'll look at his call sheet, turn and give the play to the middle linebacker (MIKE) and duck once the ball is snapped. Asked after practice to summarize his defensive philosophy, Schwartz said, "In a nutshell, we want to allow less points than our offense scores. Ranking, stats, the only thing that matters in this league is wins and losses. I'll take a 42-41 game. I might not sleep well afterwards, but I'll take it."
-- The three rookie running backs that are here for the early portion of camp – Wendell Smallwood, Byron Marshall and Cedric O'Neal -- have been getting a ton of repetitions. The Eagles are only working on passing plays at this point, so it would be premature to make any definitive evaluations. But Smallwood has looked capable as a receiver out of the backfield. He's certainly been more reliable than Marshall, who had another drop on Tuesday. ("Catch the ball. Catch the ball," Doug Pederson repeated after Marshall couldn't hang onto a Carson Wentz dump down.) Smallwood runs on the balls of his feet and seems to float as he moves. It'll be interesting to see how his running style translates once the Eagles start hitting. Smallwood didn't play in a college conference (Big 12) known for defense.
-- Receiver drops are going happen during practice. And they're going to happen with rookies, many of who aren't likely going to make the roster. But there have already been a plethora of drops through two days. Xavier Rush had at least two passes he couldn't hang onto. The same applied to Hunter Sharp. The often-reliable Cayleb Jones couldn't hang onto one throw. If this trend continues once Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and the other veterans show then it might warrant more attention – especially after last season when drops plagued the Eagles.
-- Jalen Mills had another strong practice. The rookie corner continues to impress, at least as far as his coverage skills go. Tackling may be another story – he struggled as a tackler at LSU – but the Eagles would likely be willing to overlook what he may lack in that department if he can cover as well as he has in shells and shorts. On Tuesday, Mills broke up a deep sideline pass from Chase Daniel to Sharp. He is smack in the center of any conversation about the corner spot opposite likely starter Leodis McKelvin. Nolan Carroll will get his opportunities, as well. He's still being eased back after his broken ankle and actually played a little safety on Tuesday. The position switch probably had more to do with the lack of numbers than anything.
-- Your Daily Wentz Update: For the first time since he joined the team – or at least during the open-to-the-media practices – Wentz took fewer snaps than Sam Bradford and Daniel. They each had the same number of reps (8) during 7 on 7s, but Wentz had only two plays to Bradford's and Daniel's four during team drills. No biggie, but rep distribution will be one of the more important storylines to watch as camp progresses. As for Wentz's performance, he was a little inconsistent, although the drops didn't help. (Wentz made sure to pat Sharpe on the helmet as he ran back to the huddle after one of his miscues.) He tried to hit Paul Turner with a back shoulder pass, but the receiver looked back too late. Jaylen Watkins broke up a Wentz pass on a short slant and later on a similar throw. On his last pass during red zone drills, Wentz lofted a jump ball that Jones got his hands on but couldn't pull in.
-- Bradford had probably the best pass of the day when he connected with Turner about 35 yards downfield on a "go" route. Cornerback JaCorey Shepherd was covering. Bradford did a good job of finding Marcus Johnson against a zero blitz. He threw high to quarterback-fill-in-tight end McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The ball glanced off Bethel-Thompson's hands to defensive back Aaron Grymes.