Eagles training camp observations: Eagles bring the juice, tempers flare vs. Browns originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Eagles lacked juice on Monday when they took the field for what ended up being a lackluster performance on Day 1 against the Brown.
Not the case in Day 2.
In a practice that got moved up from 5 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. because of expected storms in the area, the Eagles were fired up for the second of two joint practices against the Browns and they dominated on both sides of the football. The Eagles seemed a bit humbled by their performance on Monday.
Did they bring more juice today?
“What did you see?” Avonte Maddox responded. “I definitely feel like we picked it up today.”
They absolutely did and they dominated. Don’t expect to see starters play on Thursday night in the preseason game against the Browns. The real game happened on Tuesday afternoon.
Let’s get to the observations:
1. As always, we start with some housekeeping items:
• The Eagles added Haason Reddick to their injury report with a thumb injury. It sounds like he’s going to miss some significant time the rest of this summer and the Eagles aren’t going to rush him back. But the team also doesn’t expect him to miss any regular season action.
• Did not practice: Reddick (thumb), Landon Dickerson (foot), Quez Watkins (hamstring), Britain Covey (hamstring), Patrick Johnson (ankle)
• Dickerson was a spectator after injuring his foot on Monday. Jason Kelce, who got up slowly after the final rep of Day 1, was a full participant on Tuesday.
2. A few depth chart notes:
• Sydney Brown got more first-team snaps at safety but the Eagles rotated quite a bit next to Reed Blankenship. We saw Brown, Terrell Edmunds, K’Von Wallace and Justin Evans get some work with the ones.
• Nakobe Dean and Nicholas Morrow began as the first-team linebackers but then Christian Elliss and Zach Cunningham rotated in.
• Without Reddick, Brandon Graham filled it at the left edge spot but there was a healthy rotation along the line. Nolan Smith and Jalen Carter rotated in with the first-team too.
• Over the last two days, we’ve seen James Bradberry get some work as a slot corner and Zech McPhearson playing outside. Those won’t be permanent position switches but it’s worth noting.
• Olamide Zaccheaus continues to fill in for Watkins at slot receiver.
• Sua Opeta and then Josh Sills filled in for Dickerson at left guard.
3. The Eagles brought the juice and that led to a couple of scuffles on Tuesday. I got lucky watching the Eagles’ defense against the Browns’ offense because that’s where the first fights of the summer happened.
The first one came after Cunningham deflected a Deshaun Watson pass that was picked off by Blankenship. As Blankenship began to return the INT, rookie safety Sydney Brown leveled Browns RB/WR Demetric Felton Jr. with a block and the Browns took exception. (Brown was getting a little feisty in a special teams drill on Monday, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him involved in this scuffle.)
Dawand Jones found Brown and gave him a good shove, which led to a pretty big scuffle that went on for a while before players were separated. At least players were separated before things got out of control. It wasn’t a fight with dangerous haymakers, just a lot of shoving and repositioning, which is good news. You don’t want to see someone stupidly punch a helmet.
Then a few moments later, presumably perturbed that he wasn’t involved in the first fight of training camp, Derek Barnett got in on the action. The Eagles’ veteran yellow flag magnet got into a shoving match with tight end Thomas Greaney after Barnett matched up with him in coverage. This one was stopped much quicker and there was a bunch of laundry on the field.
4. Let’s talk a bit about Blankenship because he had two more interceptions on Tuesday after having one on Monday. So he picked off Watson three times in these joint practices. The second-year safety won a roster spot last year as an undrafted rookie and he’s having an even better summer this year.
One of his interceptions came when the fields were split and the other came in the most competitive period of practice late in the day.
His first came off a tipped ball from Cunningham, a repeat of Blankenship’s interception from Day 1. Blankenship’s second interception came late in practice on a pass targeted for Jordan Akins. Credit Barnett with a nifty spin move to force the early thrown and then Blankenship made Watson pay, rising up to snag the ball in the end zone. He then celebrated with a little basketball move, passing the ball through his legs a few times like a crossover before hitting the finger roll.
Blankenship should celebrate. He should be confident. He’s having a tremendous training camp.
5. Tyrie Cleveland did it again. The Eagles’ receiver had a great catch over Lorenzo Burns in the end zone on a perfect fade thrown by Marcus Mariota. Second day in a row with a spectacular catch for Cleveland, who is making a strong roster push. After this catch, Cleveland hurled the ball in the air and let out a primal slew of unprintable words as his teammates rushed to celebrate with him.
6. Josh Jobe had a big interception working against receiver Cedric Tillman in the end zone of the final competitive period. It was the exclamation point on a big win for the Eagles in this practice.
7. Carter keeps flashing special traits. In this practice, he ended up rushing All-Pro guard Joel Bitonio and putting Bitonio on the seat of his pants. He pancaked the guy who is used to doing the pancaking. Carter needs to stack days and show consistency but these flashes are just a hint of what might be to come in his career.
8. No Reddick, no problem. The Eagles’ pass rush was able to get home plenty on Tuesday and Josh Sweat got Watson at least a couple times working against left tackle Jedrick Wills Jr., who is no slouch. Sweat has been steadily in the backfield all training camp.
9. I watched the Eagles’ offensive line vs. the Browns’ defensive line in 1-on-1 drills. The Eagles’ OL had a much, much better showing today. Some notes:
• Lane Johnson handled Za’Darius Smith with ease. For what it’s worth, Johnson looked just as solid on Day 1 as the rest of the O-line struggled.
• Another rough rep for Cam Jurgens against Dalvin Tomlinson, who did damage to him on Monday too. Tomlinson (6-3, 325) is the type of player who might give Jurgens some trouble this year so it was good for him to get this work.
• Myles Garrett didn’t do team drills or 1-on-1s so Jordan Mailata went against Ogbo Okoronkwo and was able to take him well wide of the QB.
10. The Eagles had a very good practice and then absolutely dominated the final and most competitive period of practice, when the entire team gathers around to watch. No one was watching closer than DeVonta Smith, who was right on top of the action on the sideline after his reps were finished.
Here’s what happened in order:
• Eagles’ first-team offense vs. Browns’ first-team defense: This drive started with a DPI on Martin Emerson Jr. on A.J. Brown. And it ended with Brown catching a fade over Emerson Jr. in the end zone for a touchdown. It might have been a slight push-off from Brown but he is so subtle with that push-off and it wasn’t called. The Eagles went for 2 after the touchdown and Kenny Gainwell ran it in for the score.
• Browns’ first-team offense vs. Eagles’ first-team defense: This period started with a Sweat sack and then Sweat “tackling” Watson on a scramble. There was an overthrow to Amari Cooper, then a short completion to Donovan Peoples-Jones against Bradberry. And then the Blankenship INT in the end zone to finish the drive.
• Eagles’ second-team offense vs. Browns’ second-team defense: This drive started with a few shaky-looking incompletions from Mariota, including one where he tried to make a weird arm-angle throw on the run like Patrick Mahomes and it just didn’t work. But Mariota made up for it with that beautiful fade to Cleveland in the back left corner of the end zone. Cleveland leaped over the DB to make the contested catch. And on the 2-point conversion, Mariota went back to Cleveland in the front right of the end zone.
• Browns’ second-team offense vs. Eagles’ second-team defense: After a few short passes were completed, Josh Dobbs tried to get the ball to Tillman on a fade and Jobe just went up and got it.
This was a dominant stretch for the Eagles.
Stupid Observation of the Day: During early warmups, I watched Browns rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson throwing a rugby ball. Apparently, some quarterbacks do this for the same reason baseball players take swings with a donut. It makes the regular size football feel smaller and lighter.
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