Carson Wentz, Mike Wallace work on chemistry; Rasul Douglas rebounds; Josh Adams leaves early | Eagles practice observations
Highlights from Day 14 of Eagles training camp.
The Eagles held their 14th practice of training camp Monday (click here for Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13). Here are my observations and notes:
Today's Carson Wentz update is that there is no update. He still hasn't participated in team drills since July 28, and he still looks as if he could if the Eagles gave him the green light. When Wentz cuts, rolls out, or dances through pocket drills, his movements are seemingly as they were pre-knee surgery. When he throws during 7-on-7 drills, or passing drills, the velocity and placement are there. The Eagles have been shorthanded at wide receiver for most of camp, but Wentz, assuming he's ready by the opener, will need increased time to work with his starting receivers. It took a while for the quarterback to develop chemistry with Alshon Jeffery last season, and that will likely be the case with Mike Wallace this season. Wentz threw to Wallace back to back during pass-against-air drills, and they didn't hook up on either. The first pass was behind the receiver, and the second appeared to jump on Wallace. The drill ended, but they kept talking as Wentz motioned with his hands. There's a lot that goes into the timing and rhythm of passing, and with the speed of the game at high octane, the details of route running need to be precise. Wentz tried for Wallace later during 7-on-7 red-zone drills, but the pass was dropped.
Nate Sudfeld had an up-and-down preseason opener last week, and I'd say it reflected how his camp has gone. He had some ill-advised moments during red zone. Linebacker Nate Gerry blitzed off the edge, and Sudfeld threw hot to the vacated area. But tight end Richard Rodgers was covered and safety Corey Graham stepped in front for an interception that would have been an easy six points. A few plays later, Sudfeld was flushed to his right. He had nothing, but threw into the end zone and could have been picked off by safety Tre Sullivan. "I told you don't run from me," defensive end Steven Means said to the quarterback. Sudfeld bounced back, though, and hit receiver Shelton Gibson on a fade over cornerback De'Vante Bausby. New quarterback Christian Hackenberg, signed Sunday, was in uniform, but he participated in only individual drills. He won't play in Thursday's second preseason game and will need time to learn the offense.
Avonte Maddox was the first-team slot cornerback for the second straight practice. Sidney Jones ran with the twos. Bausby did all his work on the outside. Maddox is clearly getting an opportunity here. He's earned it. He had tight coverage on an incomplete red-zone pass, and safeties Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins were first to congratulate him. Maddox had another effective delayed blitz from the slot. He seems to have more freedom to rush than the other two slot candidates. Jones hasn't been as dynamic as he was earlier in camp, but he's also coming off an ankle injury. He did a nice job of reading a stretch run and tagged running back Wendell Smallwood down in the backfield. Sudfeld found receiver DeAndre Carter ahead of Jones for a touchdown, but the cornerback rebounded later and jumped a route for an interception. Graham had a strong showing. Aside from the pick, he had a pass breakup when he reached around tight end Zach Ertz and swatted the ball away.
Dallas Goedert (elbow) returned to practice, but was limited. He said he should be available to play Thursday. Of the active players, receivers Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and Marcus Wheaton, running backs Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement and linebacker Asantay Brown were out. Coach Doug Pederson should have an update after Tuesday's practice. Running back Josh Adams left early. He pulled up lame after a catch and appeared to be favoring his left leg. He missed all spring with a foot injury and has been wearing a knee brace. Adams has seemingly moved into the No. 4 spot on the running-back depth chart. He was running with the first-unit kick and punt cover teams, a sign the Eagles are preparing him for that possibility in the regular season. He also had a strong block – one that got running backs coach Duce Staley hyped — on linebacker Nigel Bradham during blitz pickup. A significant injury would be a setback. Cornerback Chandon Sullivan left after he made a leaping interception into the end zone – the second of his picks of quarterback Joe Callahan.
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I thought that Rasul Douglas had a good day. He's had some struggles over the last week, but he always seems to bounce back – a good trait for an NFL cornerback. He stepped in front of a Sudfeld sideline pass to Gibson and smacked it to the ground. And he jumped a Bryce Treggs out route and recorded another pass break-up. That one drew hoots and hollers from his defensive teammates. Douglas appears to be best on plays in front. He sees the ball and either breaks on it or keeps a receiver in front. When he has an issue, it tends to be on throws downfield or when he must get vertical.
Jake Elliott finally missed a kick. Actually, he missed four – all of them from 48 yards. The Eagles practiced indoors because of the rain, so conditions weren't an issue. Elliott was 29 for 29 coming in, made his first two (38 and 43 yards) Monday and then sailed one wide right. He made the next 48-yarder, and then a 38-yarder, but was wide left, wide right and wide left on three straight 48-yard attempts. Doug Pederson had Elliott kick again, to end practice on a positive note, and he connected.
And some first-unit notes: In your weak-side linebacker update, Nate Gerry was still ahead of Kamu Grugier-Hill. Michael Bennett has increasingly worked inside on third downs. Foles hit Ertz downfield on a seam route. He checked to a run play with the Eagles in single high-man, but Jenkins slashed in and touched running back Jay Ajayi down. Cornerback Ron Darby stuck to receiver Kamar Aiken on a throwaway. Running back Darren Sproles caught a wheel route down to the 1-yard line in red zone. Jenkins had another run stop. Center Jason Kelce pulled on a sweep and took out corner Jalen Mills, who shrugged as if to say, "What can I do?"
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And a few leftovers: Jason Peters stayed after practice and ran sprints with some running backs. The 36-year-old left tackle couldn't keep pace, of course, but he wasn't that far behind, either. A freak of nature. … Wentz threw a beauty to receiver Rashard Davis over McLeod for a touchdown during passing drills. … The Eagles' final practice of training camp will be Tuesday and will be a light 10-10-10 session.