Practice Notes Roundup – Sunday Edition

Posted: July 29th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles had their second day of hitting. Let’s find out what happened.

Today we’ll start with Jeff McLane.

 Brandon Brooks missed practice with an unspecified illness, which meant another offensive lineman got the opportunity to play right guard with the first team. Chance Warmack had the first crack during team drills, but on the first repetition he had a false start. Coach Doug Pederson promptly yanked him from the lineup and Matt Pryor was inserted. Pederson’s frustration with pre-snap penalties appears to be growing, but Warmack’s error allowed Pryor time with the starting o-line for the second straight day. The sixth-round rookie has flashed thus far. During Sunday’s one-on-one drills, for example, he contained defensive tackle Winston Craig on an inside rush and when he kicked out to tackle bottled up defensive end Joe Ostman. Pryor shined during combo blocking drills. He once bounced Michael Bennett, who was off balance, to the ground and pancaked defensive tackle Adam Reth to the turf. Brooks doesn’t have to worry about his job, but if I were Isaac Seumalo or Warmack, I’d be worried about my roster spot, and, at the least, whether I’ll be active on game days. Pryor offers versatility as a guard-tackle, something Warmack — who eventually returned to first team right guard Sunday — does not. Seumalo is working primarily as a center in camp, but he has experience as a guard and tackle. He hasn’t yet shown that he’s good at any one position.

I’m not about to declare Pryor the next John Hannah. He typically isn’t facing the Eagles’ top defensive linemen, and practice is a far cry from an actual game. But he clearly can compete at this level and has great size (6-foot-7, 332 pounds). He’s built similarly to fellow rookie Jordan Mailata (6-8, 346), and because they have numbers that look alike from a distance – 69 and 68 – it can sometimes be difficult to decipher who is who. But once you see them at work it’s easy to tell the difference. Mailata really struggled during joint drills. He started off fine vs. defensive end Josh Sweat, who tried to get by the tackle with an outside speed rush. But he toppled over when Ostman fooled him — Timber! — and was completely lost vs. two-man stunts. The Eagles must remain patient, and the same goes for the former rugby player. Mailata was visibly upset, once yanking his helmet off his head and punching it. Former Eagles tackle Tra Thomas was in attendance and tried to give Mailata some pointers.

Matt Pryor is a football player. Jordan Mailata is an athlete and a project. Pryor is way ahead at this point, as he should be. The Eagles expected that. They know that Mailata is a guy that will take time to develop, and even then it may not work.

They have to be pleased with Pryor’s play so far. The rookie has impressed everyone who attends practices with his size, strength and physicality. He isn’t anything special athletically. His challenge will be dealing with quick, athletic DTs. So far, he’s playing well and looks like an outstanding value pick. We used to joke that the Eagles should spend a late pick on someone from Cincinnati (Trent Cole, Brent Celek, Jason Kelce). Maybe now we’ll have to include the Eagles going after a TCU O-lineman late in the draft (Big V, Pryor).

Rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox stood out during 4-on-4 drills. Working from the slot, he broke up passes to receiver Kamar Aiken and Nelson Agholor and got over in time to “stop” tight end Joshua Perkins after dropping into a soft zone.

I think Maddox will be the Eagles long term answer in the slot. That could happen some time this season or in the future. Right now he’s not at the level of Sidney Jones or De’Vante Bausby. Maddox is a natural for the slot and with time he should become really good at playing on the inside.


Here’s Jimmy Bama’s two-cents.

The other really impressive moment from a young player today, for me, was during WR-CB 1-on-1’s, when Sidney Jones locked down Nelson Agholor. Jones didn’t give up an inch of separation on a comeback route from Agholor, despite Agholor running a quality route. Jones stepped in front of the pass for what was almost an interception, but Agholor was able to become a defender on the play and break it up.

Agholor is perhaps the jukiest player on the offense, and for Jones to stick with him the way that he did is a testament to his athleticism.

“He’s at a completely different spot than the rookies are right now,” said Jim Schwartz on Friday. “Sitting in every meeting, he made good use of that time. Just getting his body ready and training, knowing what he’s got to go through, it doesn’t seem like he’s a rookie player out there.”

Jones is a special talent. I can’t wait to see him in the preseason games. He is going to be a man on a mission after sitting out almost all of last year.

Tre Sullivan has had a solid camp so far. He picked off Wentz today on a deep ball in which he had man-to-man coverage on one of the young wide receivers (Greg Ward, I think?).

Sullivan landed on IR at the conclusion of training camp in 2017, and was waived with an injury settlement. The team later signed him back to the practice squad in November. You might look at that situation and think, “He couldn’t even stay on the practice squad all season. He has a long way to go before he makes the roster, right?”

Probably not. Sullivan broke his ankle at the end of camp last year. Obviously, with a broken ankle, he wasn’t going to (a) make the team, (b) the team wasn’t going to use one of their two “IR – designation to return” spots, and (c) he wasn’t going to be on the practice squad if he couldn’t practice.

As soon as Sullivan’s ankle was healed and he was ready to practice again, the team added him to the practice squad. In my opinion, that shows that the team liked what he showed during camp as well as the preseason games last year. Sullivan would be the team’s third safety if the season started today. I love his chances of making the team.

Good stuff. I had forgotten about Sullivan’s injury and how everything went down last year. The Eagles know he can be a punishing hitter. They want to know if he can cover. So far this spring and summer, Sullivan has shown good coverage potential. He needs to keep that up and the preseason games will be critical for him. The fact the team hasn’t gone after a veteran to backup Jenkins and McLeod shows some confidence in Sullivan.

Speaking of Sudfeld, I thought today was his best day of camp. He found Goedert down the middle of the field while on the move on a boot to his left, and he hit Richard Rodgers down the sideline for a long gain. Those were the two highlights from him, and I didn’t see much in the way of bad throws or decisions.

Rodgers has shown enough that I can’t imagine another tight end (after Zach Ertz and Goedert, obviously) beating him out for a roster spot. If a guy like Billy Brown or Joshua Perkins is going to make the team, they’re going to have to do so as a fourth tight end, or as a beneficiary of someone getting hurt.

We know Sudfeld will make the team, but it is still great to hear that he’s playing well. As for Rodgers, he hasn’t drawn rave reviews, but that wasn’t expected. It seems like he will be the #3 TE and not the primary backup so there is less pressure for him to play at a high level. Rodgers can be an effective role player. He’s just not someone you want as a key part of your offense. 


And now Brandon Lee Gowton.

De’Vante Bausby was back at first team nickel corner today. Through four days of camp, Sidney Jones and Bausby have each received two days as the starting slot guy. I don’t think either player has really created separation in that battle so far. With that said, I thought Bausby struggled a little in coverage at times today, especially in WR vs. DB. He got beat by Rashard Davis a couple times. Jones had a nice 1-on-1 rep where he broke up a short pass for Nelson Agholor but he also had one where he got flagged for defensive holding on Shelton Gibson.

The battle for the nickel spot rages on. It is important that Bausby avoid bad days. If things are close, Jones is getting the job. Bausby has to flat out win it. The Eagles spent a high pick on Jones so he will get the benefit of the doubt. The team likes Bausby, too, but Jones is more gifted. He’s only sitting if Bausby clearly outplays him.

Speaking of Gibby, I’ve buried the lede! The second-year wide receiver made the play of the day. During an 11-on-11 drill, Nick Foles rolled to his right a little and chucked a pass deep down field into double coverage. An underthrow caused a jump ball situation but Gibson managed to come down with it despite being tightly covered by Malcolm Jenkins and Ronald Darby. Legitimately made me say “Wow” out loud (WOL). Impressive play by the young man who couldn’t even catch a cold last year. Gibson had some more good reps in 1-on-1. He also made a nice diving adjustment on an underthrow by Nate Sudfeld. The 2017 fifth-round pick also drew praise from Doug Pederson after practice. I’d say Gibson is in good position to be the Eagles’ fifth receiver (or sixth at worst).

Gibson is better than last year, but it sure sounds like he’s still got plenty of work to do. Don’t look for a Nelson Agholor type of jump. Gibson has cut down on his drops, but they haven’t gone completely away. And he doesn’t always catch the ball smoothly. He is headed in the right direction and that’s a good thing.

Ronald Darby had suffocating coverage on Markus Wheaton during a 1-on-1 rep. He knocked the ball down at the catch point after the quarterback tried to fit it in. Strong day for Darby overall. It could’ve been even better if he didn’t drop a tipped Foles pass that came right to him. He was incredibly frustrated with himself after that one.

I wonder if Darby could be in for a breakout season. He’s healthy. He knows the scheme. He’s surrounded by talented players. He has good coaches and is part of a winning team. And he’s in a contract year. I’ve heard great things about him so far.

The Eagles would love Darby to have a great year. He would sign elsewhere in free agency (I doubt the Eagles could afford him) and could get a big deal. If so, the Eagles could get a nice comp pick in 2020.


Sheil and his intern Bo.

One-on-ones between offensive and defensive linemen. Maybe the most fun drill at training camp. Vaitai delivers a great rep, stoning Barnett, who tried a spin move. Undrafted free agent Bruce Hector flashes on a couple occasions. Sweat’s speed off the edge is evident. Elijah Qualls beats Warmack.

Then the Eagles practice some stunts and twists so it’s two-on-two. Bennett teaming up with Fletcher Cox, Barnett, Brandon Graham or Chris Long this season is going to be very tough for offenses to handle.

Another nice rep for Vaitai, who gets Barnett on the ground.

Pryor had a couple outstanding reps here. On one, Bennett was off-balance it looked like, and Pryor knocked him to the ground. Pryor later won his rep against Qualls. The Eagles look like they might really have something with the sixth-round pick out of TCU.

Great stuff there from Mr. K. Vaitai has played well this spring and summer. He might not be starting this year, but the young man has worked hard on his game to be ready if he is called upon. He’ll be a starter in this league soon enough. If everyone is healthy, Vaitai will be the Jumbo TE this season. His run blocking got much better last year so that could be a great role for him.

I think that is the first I’ve heard about Bruce Hector, the DT from USF. Hopefully he can continue to improve and flash in practice.

Wentz struggled a little bit during the 7-on-7 period that was concurrent with the OL/DL one-on-ones. First, he threw an intermediate pass that should have been intercepted by Nigel Bradham, who got both hands on it before dropping the ball. Bradham immediately threw his hands into his facemask in exasperation — even he can’t believe how many picks he’s dropped.

On the next pass, Wentz was intercepted deep in the secondary by Jenkins. Jenkins then ran the ball back towards the opposite end zone, even though the play was over, and tossed the ball to an excited young football player from the Oaklane Wildcats, a local pee wee football team that was a guest of Eagles community relations. The kid was was the envy of his teammates.

Not Wentz’s best day. You can’t be on the mend from a torn ACL and play lights out everyday. There are going to be some hiccups.


Finally, Fran Duffy and Chris McPherson.

  • My surprise player from this drill was rookie free agent cornerback Chandon Sullivan. First, he matched up against Agholor with Wentz at quarterback. Wentz tested Sullivan deep down the left side and the Georgia State product was stride for stride with Agholor, forcing the incompletion. “It’s fun. I get out here every day and it’s a competition. It’s not like college. Everyone out here is good,” said Sullivan, who also had a nice pass breakup in a 7-on-7 drill. “It keeps me on my toes, challenging the older guys, vets like Nelson. It gives me confidence to continue to keep pushing and continue to get better at what I do.” The 5-11, 195-pound Sullivan was a four-year starter at Georgia State where he was coached by Trent Miles, who is now the Eagles’ offensive quality control/running backs coach. He had 182 tackles and seven interceptions in his college career which finished with him being the first player in program history to be invited to the Senior Bowl. – Chris

Sullivan was a terrific cover corner in college and played well at the Senior Bowl. He could be a candidate for the practice squad this year if he plays well (and doesn’t get claimed). Good to hear him making some plays.

Sudfeld came in and on his first play he handed the ball off to Matt Jones on an inside run, but my eyes were on Goedert. The rookie tight end, not known for his abilities at the point of attack, latched onto Grugier-Hill and sealed him off from the action, creating a lane for Jones to pick up a handful of yards. That was a really good sign for the rookie second-round pick. – Fran

Goedert has to show that he can be a functional blocker. This is very encouraging. Obviously one play doesn’t mean anything, but it is a good sign.


One Comment on “Practice Notes Roundup – Sunday Edition”

  1. 1 Jason Swenk – Jump Start My Agenc May – Dmarketing Seo Super said at 6:00 AM on August 7th, 2018:

    […] Practice Notes Roundup – Sunday Edition – Today we’ll start with Jeff McLane. Matt Pryor is a football player. […]