Doug Pederson dialed it back on a hot and steamy day. The Eagles coach said that he had planned for the players to practice in full pads, but that he had had been pleased with the effort of his team and didn't see the need to push them with the heat index rising over 100 degrees. The players wore shorts and shells and the workout ended 30 minutes early. The first unit worked sparingly during team drills. The bulk of playing time in Thursday's preseason opener against the Steelers will go to the second and third units.
Nick Foles is unlikely to suit up and start. He missed a third straight practice with soreness in his neck area. He was joined on the sidelines by wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Mike Wallace, running back Matt Jones, linebacker Asantay Brown and center Ian Park. Agholor was absent for the first time this camp. He said afterward that he was fine. Zach Ertz returned after sitting out three days. He was limited, however, and is unlikely to go on Thursday. Tight end Richard Rodgers, receiver Markus Wheaton and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata were back in action. Running back Donnel Pumphrey left practice early, but he said he would be ready for the Steelers.
Carson Wentz didn't participate in team drills for an eighth straight practice, but the quarterback was sharp during 7-on-7 drills. He only took six snaps, but here's the rundown: Wentz hit Kamar Aiken on a short slant. The pass was thrown a smidge behind his receiver. It would be his worst pass. Wentz hooked up with receiver Mack Hollins on a 10-yard out with cornerback Ronald Darby in man coverage. He roped a dart to receiver Greg Ward on a seam route. In the red zone, Wentz tossed a back-shoulder pass to tight end Dallas Goedert in the corner of the end zone. There was little Jalen Mills could do in coverage. Wentz threw high and essentially away from Ward with safety Malcolm Jenkins glued to the receiver. And finally, he strung a low missile to tight end Joshua Perkins on a short dig. The pass was where only Perkins could get it. Wentz was working with mostly backups against the first unit defense. His knee hasn't been cleared for contact, but his arm sure looks ready to go.
Cornerback Sidney Jones was back in the slot with the first unit. He's likely to play both inside and out on Thursday. Nate Gerry remains the top weak-side linebacker. The Eagles seem to want him to win the job. He's making a strong case, although Kamu Grugier-Hill is knocking on the door. The Eagles rotate a lot at the offensive skill positions, but rookie running back Josh Adams took his first reps with the second unit (unless I missed something). Adams has a shot to claim the fourth tailback spot. Matt Jones has hardly practiced. Pumphrey has shown improvement, but he hasn't exactly dazzled. And Wendell Smallwood hasn't stood out. It's early, and the games will be the greatest evaluator. Adams had trouble getting upfield on Tuesday, partly because of the blocking. Goedert whiffed on one run and padded his chest as if to say, "My fault." Quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw to Adams once in the flat, but he dropped the ball with cornerback Rasul Douglas bearing down.
Sudfeld has gotten a lot of work over the last several days. He'll be the starting quarterback on Thursday. He strung a seam pass to receiver Shelton Gibson. Douglas broke up a pass to receiver Bryce Treggs. Receiver Tim Wilson hung onto a Sudfeld flick with his fingertips. Running back Corey Clement dropped an outlet pass. Receiver DeAndre Carter caught a corner fade for a touchdown.
Fourth-string quarterback Joe Callahan, splitting team reps with Sudfeld, threw behind Perkins and was nearly picked off by Jones. The ball sailed through the corner's outstretched hands. Callahan had his struggles. He went to double-covered Treggs and was incomplete. He threw wide of Carter. He fared better later in practice, hitting Gibson on another seam route and finding Carter open over the middle.
Cameron Johnston got off to a shaky start with his first punt. Told to boot away, the ball went off the side of his foot and dribble short of returner Darren Sproles. He was much better on No. 2. Johnston was steady, if unspectacular, with his pooch kicks inside the 20. But he looked his best all camp during "backed up" punts. The first two were boomers, and while the second was relatively short, he had good hang time.