Eagles Training Camp Practice Notes: Defense wins the day as offense struggles
Today marked the sixth Philadelphia Eagles training camp practice ahead of the 2022 NFL season. Here’s what I observed at the NovaCare Complex. NOTE: Stay tuned for today’s BGN Radio practice recap podcast that’ll be posted here once the episode goes live.
• Man, it was a hot one out there today with temps approaching 100 degrees. Or at least it felt that way.
• This much is clear: no one can reasonably make the case that today was a stock up performance for Hurts. The offense did not play well.
Hurts isn’t to blame for the struggles. In fairness to him, he was down his top two left tackle options and he was missing one of his best wide receivers.
But quarterbacks aren’t always going to surrounded with the perfect situation. Sometimes it’s up to them to do more with less and overcome such adversity. Hurts did not rise to the occasion on Thursday morning.
Let’s recap his practice based on the different periods he was involved in.
1-on-1: Hurts lofted a ball to Quez Watkins on a slot fade but it was underthrown and nearly picked off by Avonte Maddox until Watkins played defense to break it out. Hurts threw a fade pass in the back left corner of the end zone that didn’t let Watkins have a chance to catch it in-bounds. Hurts came back and corrected his error with a fade pass to the back right corner of the end zone to find John Hightower.
11-on-11: Hurts held on to the ball for a long time on his first two reps. He probably would’ve been sacked on one of those, if not both. And he didn’t even manage to complete a pass despite getting the benefit of extra time to throw. Hurts’ third down throw was a four-yard completion to Dallas Goedert. Three-and-out.
7-on-7: Hurts had a good ball over the middle (!) to a sliding AJ Brown in a tight window. The pass was thrown a little behind but that might have been intended to give Brown a chance at making a play while keeping the ball away from the defense. Hurts found Brown again in the middle of the field but this time in the back of the end zone for a score. Those were the good plays that stood out. The bad plays include two reps where Hurts didn’t see anything he liked and took off running. Not good when a QB has to resort to his legs in a 7-on-7 drill. Hurts was also nearly picked up by a diving TJ Edwards but the refs at practice ruled it incomplete. Close one.
11-on-11: Hurts had good zip on a quick pass to Goedert over the middle.
11-on-11 red zone: Hurts got the ball out quick to Brown on a slant to beat Darius Slay for a score.
11-on-11 crunch time: Hurts connected with Brown on an out route to allow the receiver to get out of bounds for a 5-yard gain with 1:11 left on the clock. On second down, Kenneth Gainwell dropped a short pass over the middle with defenders nearby. On third down, Javon Hargrave might’ve had a sack on Hurts in a real game but the quarterback took off running to the sideline for a short gain. On fourth down, Hurts held on to the ball for a long time to the point where Josh Sweat stopped rushing him and just stood watching while the quarterback threw high/off target towards the left sideline. Hurts had another pass over the middle knocked down by Edwards.
After practice, I asked multiple media members if they though Hurts was stock up, stock even, or stock down. Everyone agreed stock up wasn’t an option. Some were between even and down … though even one of Hurts’ biggest proponents thought it was a clear down. After going through my notes, the bad outweighed the good. Too many times where he was holding on to the ball for forever. It’s kind of been feast or famine in that regard with the ball either coming out very fast or taking all day to be thrown.
• JALEN HURTS STOCK TRACKER OVERVIEW:
Day 1: Stock even
Day 2: Stock down
Day 3: Stock down
Day 4: Stock even
Day 5: Stock up
Day 6: Stock down
• EAGLES INJURY REPORT: The Eagles added some notable names to their injury report.
DID NOT PRACTICE: DeVonta Smith (groin), Jordan Mailata (concussion), Andre Dillard (concussion), Greg Ward (toe), Grant Calcaterra (hamstring), Mac McCain (knee).
Smith returned to Tuesday’s practice after getting banged up but he was out today. The Eagles are describing Smith as “day-to-day.”
Mailata and Dillard are out until they can pass mandatory through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Their absences left Le’Raven Clark as the Eagles’ first team left tackle.
Ward, Calcaterra, and McCain are all bubble players who need to get healthy soon in order to properly battle for roster spots.
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: Zach Pascal (illness).
Pascal practiced for the first time since camp opened. He wasn’t involved in team drills but he did participate in 1-on-1s. Ramping up.
Quez Watkins was full go today after leaving Tuesday’s practice early due to illness.
Boston Scott was on the ground for a bit after taking a big pop from Marcus Epps but was able to walk off on his own power.
Richard Rodgers was activated from the active/PUP list on Wednesday evening. More tight end depth for practice, at the very least.
Tarron Jackson seemed to get poked in the eye during one rep. We’ll see if he misses any time.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Deon Cain both got hurt in practice and didn’t return.
• While Hurts often held on to the ball for too long (there’s extensive evidence of him doing as much with the longest average time to throw over the past two seasons), let’s give the defense some credit as well. The coverage didn’t make life super easy on him. And neither did the pass rush, which didn’t struggle to make his life difficult. The Eagles’ pass rush was too ineffective last year; It’s nice to see improvement this summer.
• TJ Edwards is having a strong summer. One of his two pass breakups was very nearly an interception. Edwards also did a good job of diagnosing a short throw to Goedert to stop the offense for a 2-yard gain during a goal-to-go series. Some thought Edwards might be headed to the bench with the Eagles signing Kyzir White and drafting Nakobe Dean. That’s not happening. Edwards is the team’s best linebacker.
• Speaking of Dean, still waiting for a flash through six practices.
• Gainwell’s drop towards the end of practice was bad. But he did have a nice over-the-shoulder catch in 1-on-1. He also broke off a good run up the middle for about 10 yards. And he was trusted with a goal line carry up the gut with the first team offense that went for a touchdown.
• AJ Brown has been feasting on Darius Slay this summer. Brown faked a route to the outside with his release during a 1-on-1 rep before quickly cutting inside and scoring a touchdown on a slant. Brown has been a slant machine.
• Kary Vincent Jr. got flagged for defensive pass interference on Devon Allen in 1-on-1. KVJ also got beat by Covey on an angle route for a touchdown from Reid Sinnett during red zone drills.
• Not a bad day for Covey. In addition to the aforementioned touchdown, he had another score after running an out route to get open against Josiah Scott in red zone 11-on-11.
• Today was probably Gardner Minshew’s best practice of camp. He was more solid than sensational. Minshew was the thrower for Covey’s 1-on-1 touchdown; he zipped the ball right by Scott. Minshew connected with Noah Togiai on a fade route with Jaquiski Tartt trailing. Minshew did badly overthrow Zach Pascal on a 1-on-1 rep.
• Been a pretty quiet camp for veteran safeties Tartt and Anthony Harris.
• Brandon Graham continues to look good. He prevented Minshew from getting a pass off by getting to the quarterback.
• Haason Reddick was in position to make a tackle on Miles Sanders for a loss or no gain during a play where Hurts option pitched to his running back. The same could be said for an option pitch on the opposite side of the field (left) with Davion Taylor ready to wrap up Boston Scott.
• There was a day earlier at camp where Quez Watkins was carving up Avonte Maddox in 1-on-1. Today it was Maddox who got the best of that battle with a near pick and a breakup. Real sticky coverage from the Eagles’ slot corner.
• Devon Allen dropped a pass in 1-on-1. His hands have been an issue this summer.
• Jalen Regor beat James Bradberry for a score in 1-on-1. Later in practice, he got yelled at by Nick Sirianni during a rep where they was a coverage “sack.”
• Reid Sinnett made a good throw to Jaedan Graham in the middle of the end zone. Will be interested to see what Sinnett can do in the preseason since he’ll get a lot of snaps there. He’ll have a chance to make the case for the Eagles keeping three quarterbacks.
• Carson Strong isn’t seriously pushing for a roster spot at the moment. He threw a duck into double coverage and was lucky it wasn’t picked off.
• Reed Blankenship continues to stand out among the third stringers. Doing good things in coverage and run support. He’ll at least be on the practice squad.
• Scenes from camp: ball security drill.
• Today in Jimmy Kempski’s daily training camp interview series for BGN Radio: Fran Duffy.
• It was an honor to meet the one and only Hoagie Dom at today’s practice. If you haven’t already devoured one of his creations, you’re really missing out. Elite.
UP NEXT: No practice on Friday due to an off day for the players. The Eagles will return to action on Saturday starting at 10:00 AM. The team is hosting their first and only practice open to the public at Lincoln Financial Field starting at 7:00 PM on Sunday evening. [Click here for ticket information.]