The Eagles held their fourth practice of Phase 3 of spring workouts – otherwise known as organized team activities (OTAs). Tuesday's session was open to the media. Here are some observations and notes:
1. I wasn't expecting more from Carson Wentz after his surprising involvement in last Tuesday's practice, but there he was doing an extensive amount of on-field work at the start of the second week. The quarterback once again participated in every individual drill, but he also partook in 2-on-2 passing drills. I used this line last week, but it applies again: If it weren't for the brace Wentz was wearing, it would be difficult to discern that he was five months removed from reconstructive knee surgery. He ran through the same motions as his counterparts. He jogged without a hitch. He had velocity on his throws, and dare I say, the balls appeared to be moving at a faster pace than last year. And he was accurate, even when throwing against defenders. After the first set of individual drills, Wentz worked alone on a side field under the eyes of a trainer or two. He ran 20-yard sprints while pulling a weight that was leashed to his waist. When the first set of team drills ended, he rejoined the quarterbacks for more throwing drills. It was then back to another empty field for a series of solo sprints. And when Wentz finished those, he watched the rest of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills from behind the offense.
2. During 2-on-2 drills – a quarterback with two receivers vs. two defenders – Wentz and Nick Foles worked on one half of a field while quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan worked at the other. Foles was first at his end. Cornerback Chandon Sullivan came up lame after a Foles pass to receiver Greg Ward, but he returned a few plays later to break up a pass to receiver Shelton Gibson. Wentz fired a BB to tight end Richard Rodgers and afterward they shared a quick low "five." Rodgers has looked solid so far. Wentz cocked his arm to toss a swing pass to running back Donnel Pumphrey, but the ball slipped out. The quarterback came back and hit rookie tight end Dallas Goedert on a comeback route. A Wentz pass sailed off Rodgers' hand. Safety Stephen Roberts had tight coverage and Rodgers swore after the ball hit the grass. "I'm physical, too," Roberts yelled back.
3. A quick disclaimer about OTAs: There isn't supposed to be any contact, but many players cross that line. It can affect how they perform. There aren't many veterans willing to risk injury by pushing that envelope. But rookies or players on the roster bubble are typically the ones who move at a faster pace or get grabby in the spring. Jalen Mills was one of the established exceptions. The cornerback rode Ward hard on a hitch route and turned back to break a Foles pass up during 2 on 2s. During a later team red zone drill, rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox popped Ward at the goal line. Callahan's pass was complete and a "touchdown." To add insult, a coach admonished Maddox: "Hey, we don't have pads on!" Safety Tre Sullivan collided into Pumphrey late in practice – he appeared to initiate the contact — and had to come off for a breather.
4. Defensive end Michael Bennett and running back Darren Sproles were still absent from the voluntary workouts. Doug Pederson said last week that he wasn't concerned about either veteran missing time. The injury list was essentially the same as it was last week: defensive end Brandon Graham (ankle) and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (back) weren't at practice. Neither was defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (injury unknown), who watched last Tuesday's session. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), safety Chris Maragos (knee), linebacker Joe Walker (unknown), running back Josh Adams (foot), linebacker LaRoy Reynolds (unknown), and safety Ryan Neal (unknown) were present, but didn't practice. Tackle Jason Peters (knee) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (Achilles) were limited.
5. As Chip Kelly once liked to say, the depth chart is more of a seating chart. While that isn't entirely true – about 90 percent of the current first teamers will likely be the starters when the season opens – there will be some of shuffling in the spring that won't amount to much when it counts. That isn't to say that De'Vante Bausby doesn't have a shot at being the Eagles' starting slot cornerback, but just because he was with the first team on Tuesday doesn't mean that he has supplanted Sidney Jones, who was there a week ago. Bausby has clearly raised some eyebrows. He stood out last week and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had some nice things to say about the third-year corner before practice. Bausby has some length – he's listed at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds – and gets his hands on a lot of passes. One other depth chart note: Nate Gerry got his share of first team repetitions at linebacker. Many have slotted Corey Nelson into Mychal Kendricks' weak-side spot, but that vacancy is probably one of the few open positions on the team.
6. Mike Groh met with the reporters for the first time since being promoted to offensive coordinator. The former receivers coach came off as more mild-mannered than predecessor Frank Reich on the podium, but he got fired up a few times during practice. Foles and the first team offense failed to execute a downfield pass off a fake reverse and Groh barked at the unit as they returned to the huddle. "F—– it up," he told them. Groh, as Reich did, called the plays in practice. The call sheet is set, so it's not as if he's making split decisions, but it's a good habit to have as Pederson spends more time overseeing workouts.
7. Here's a play-by-play (of sorts) from drills involving the first team units: The offense had trouble protecting Foles during a blitz period. He was "sacked" on back-to-back plays. During 7 on 7s, Foles hooked up with tight end Zach Ertz just inside the pylon. I wasn't sure if Ertz had scored, but when Wentz walked over to Wentz and Ertz and congratulated both, I assumed he had gotten in. Receiver Mack Hollins couldn't pull in a Foles pass over the middle in team drills. Cornerback Ronald Darby batted a throw intended for slanting receiver Mike Wallace to the ground. Foles heaved a toss to Nelson Agholor, but the ball was behind his receiver and Bausby knocked it away. It wasn't a good day for the first team offense, but on the positive side, it was for the defense.
>>READ MORE: Get ready to see more of Nate Sudfeld
8. The second team: Gibson pulled in a shoestring grab on a low Sudfeld toss. The quarterback rolled to his right and went to Gibson again, but Jones made the interception. Sudfeld chucked a deep pass to diminutive receiver Rashard Davis, but Roberts ran with him step for step and the ball sailed long. Sudfeld threaded a low and outside sideline pass to receiver Bryce Treggs, who made a nice grab. The quarterback tried again for Davis during 7 on 7s, but he didn't spot Roberts spying him underneath and his pass was nearly intercepted. Another Sudfeld-to-Davis bomb was errant. But Sudfeld bounced back with a 25-yard-or-so rope to Goedert. The rookie tight end has caught nearly every pass thrown in his direction. Sudfeld floated a "touchdown" pass over Gerry to Davis in the back of the end zone. Defensive tackle Aziz Shittu had his way with rookie guard Matt Pryor on several rushes. I will wait until the pads go on to assess line play, but Shittu could be in the running for the late defensive tackle spot. I can't imagine Destiny Vaeao is assured anything.
9. The third team: Tight end Billy Brown dropped a Callahan pass that was thrown slightly behind him during installs. Later, he had a pass just sail through his hands. The Eagles wouldn't have kept Brown around if he didn't have some talent, but it's easy to see why they signed Rodgers and drafted Goedert. Rookie tackle Jordan Mailata continued his schooling. He may look like a stud in the making on one down, and then the next look utterly lost. After one play, as he walked backed to the huddle, Peters intercepted him, grabbed his hands, and showed him how to use them.