TC Notes Roundup – Hitting Begins

Posted: July 28th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

Pads. Contact. Hitting. Let the good times roll.

Let’s start with Mr. Bama’s thoughts.

It was during the 11-on-11 session, with a pass rush coming at him, that Wentz really showed something above and beyond what he has shown to this point in his recovery:

  1. Early in 11-on-11’s, Wentz was “sacked” (one-hand touched) by Michael Bennett, but typically the offense will still play out the rep anyway. After being sacked, Wentz escaped from the pocket, ran to his right, and then flipped the ball to a running back when a linebacker was beginning to close off his running lane. It was the first time I’ve seen Wentz sprint in any kind of game-action type of drill, and nothing about it looked awkward.
  2. Later, facing pressure in the pocket, Wentz did sort of a Romo spin to the outside and sprinted to his left, out-running Chris Long, who was in pursuit. He then fired on the run. That was a “Holy crap, there’s no way he’s not starting Week 1” play.
  3. Soon after, Wentz was in the pocket, and he made a series of subtle moves with his feet, not unlike the drill shown above, found a passing lane, and let it rip. Again, it was impressive footwork, and nothing that we’ve seen from him yet this offseason in game-simulated action.
  4. And finally, there was a play in which the pocket was closing in on Wentz, and a defender even made contact with his leg, but Wentz bounced away and got the ball out. I’m sure the Eagles would prefer that kind of play not happen in practice, but it was another small test, passed.

I don’t know how the Eagles will handle whether or not Wentz will play in the preseason games. My guess is that he’ll appear in at least one game. We’ll see.

But the Eagles’ first regular season game is 40 days away. Again, disclaimer, barring a setback, there’s no way he isn’t going to start that game.

Great stuff from Jimmy. I love his confidence in regard to Wentz being ready for the season opener. He knows what Wentz looked like last summer. He saw him in the OTAs. Jimmy can see Wentz getting back to his normal level. There is no eureka moment when players are suddenly healthy. It is a lengthy process. Wentz has worked tremendously hard and the team has done a great job with his recovery.

Just as important, Wentz is playing lights out. Sometimes a player’s focus on getting healthy can affect his performance. Doesn’t sound like that has been the case with Wentz.

We got our first look at OL vs. DL 1-on-1’s, which is one of the more popular drills in camp. That drill occurred about 70 yards away from where I was standing, so take the following with a grain of salt, but here’s what stood out:

  1. Derek Barnett had an impressive bull rush on Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Coming out of college, Barnett was something of a one-trick pony, in that he heavily relied on his dip and bend move around the edge. In the pros, it was pretty clear that he would need to develop some inside counter moves, as well as “converting speed to power,” i.e., a bull rush. Barnett has worked hard at developing his pass rep repertoire, and he’s only going to get better.
  2. Seventh round draft pick Jordan Mailata got beaten badly by fellow rookies Joe Ostman and Josh Sweat. Ostman hit him with a nice inside spin, while Sweat simply smoked him around the edge on a pure speed rush.
  3. Sixth round rookie Matt Pryor had a good showing. No one moment stood out, but he seemed to be winning all his reps. I’ll also note quickly here that Pryor got some first team reps today, filling in briefly for Brandon Brooks at RG.

Barnett will have a chance to start this year. He’s going to battle with Chris Long and Michael Bennett to see who gets the nod at RDE. As Jimmy points out, it is important that Barnett develops multiple moves. He’s not explosive enough to win in the NFL with a speed rush on every play.

Mailata is a long term project. He’s going to struggle for most of the summer, but every day he is learning the game and getting a better feel for what he needs to do. There will be some frustrating lessons, but they can be valuable.

They are playing Pryor at RG, but I thought he might fit better at RT. They love his size and strength. The coaches have said good things about him so far (for what that’s worth). I look forward to seeing him in the preseason.


Let’s see what Dave Zangaro has to say.

There wasn’t a fight during the first padded practice, but I know who is going to start the first one of this training camp: veteran linebacker LaRoy Reynolds. He was popping people today and then talking to them afterward. He had words with Isaac Seumalo after one play and was pushing the limits of a “thud” practice. Apparently, that’s his reputation.

Not significant at all, but still interesting. Reynolds is more of a STer than a LB so this kind of mentality probably serves him well. STs is heavily dependent on attitude and effort.

Second-year running back Donnel Pumphrey has put on some weight this offseason and it showed on one play when he picked up a blitzing Kamu Grugier-Hill to protect Sudfeld. Last year, any linebacker would have simply run him over.

We can talk about nice runs and impressive catches, but Pumphrey must be able to block if he’s going to make the team and play. Very encouraging to hear about him showing progress in this area.

The play of the day came from Rodney McLeod, who made an incredible interception diving backward about 40 yards downfield during 7-on-7s. It was a great display of athleticism.

McLeod is such a tease. There are times when he is absolutely terrific. There are other times when he misses tackles and takes poor angles to the ball. You wonder if this is the year he’ll play more consistently. He knows the scheme really well and is surrounded by good talent.


Next up is Brandon Lee Gowton.

Dallas Goedert (AKA Philly Goedert) just looks unguardable out there sometimes. He made a great contested catch on a throw from Wentz while a linebacker was draped all over him. I don’t know how he managed to catch it and hold on. Later on, Goedert got open down the field for a 25-yard gain. He just gets open and catches the ball. Good things to do as a tight end. For real, though, this second-round rookie has had a very encouraging offseason.

Goedert is off to a strong start. Rookie TEs don’t always adjust quickly to the NFL, but Goedert seems to impress everyone. He knows how to get open. He knows how to use his size when he is covered. Goedert has great hands so he’s going to catch everything that gets close to him. If he can be a functional blocker, Goedert is going to be the #2 TE.

Add Jalen Mills to today’s list of standout players. As noted yesterday, Mills has had a strong offseason. He’s stood out in camp with multiple pass breakups on a daily basis. He even notched an interception on Wentz today. I know some suggest Mills should go to the bench but that’s not happening. Jim Schwartz loves him and Mills is not playing like a guy who deserves to lose his starting job.

The last time the Eagles had young DBs getting Pro Bowl talk and lots of accolades, they let it go to their heads and their performance fell dramatically. Well, this isn’t 2005 and Mills isn’t Lito Sheppard or Michael Lewis. Mills seems as driven as ever. I think part of that could be all the depth at CB. He can’t rest on his laurels or he’ll lose his job. Mills could take another big step forward this year.

I continue to be impressed by Nelson Agholor, who just looks faster than ever. Not to say he was slow before … it’s just that he looks even faster. For example, he burned Rodney McLeod deep with ease in a WR vs. DB drill. Agholor led the Eagles in average separation yards last season and he’ll likely do so again this year.

That is good to hear. Agholor could become a real weapon in the slot. When a player has experience, good positional skills and athletic ability, he’s going to be at his best. Agholor was good last season, but was still learning. Like Mills, Agholor could be ready to take another step forward.


Now for Jeff McLane.

  1. With pads comes hitting, and the first “pop” of practice came courtesy of linebacker Corey Nelson, who squared up running back Matt Jones during run drills. There will be a few tackling-to-the-ground periods next week, but the Eagles will mostly limit contact to “thud” hitting. That doesn’t always stop the overzealous from pushing the boundaries. Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds gave receiver Rashard Davis a little extra business after a catch over the middle. Reynolds has shot to the top of my list of Players Most Likely to Get Into a Fight in Camp. Agholor caught a screen pass from quarterback Nick Foles and safety Malcolm Jenkins came up a gave the receiver a little shot to the side. Agholor didn’t appear to like it. A year ago, Jenkins made Agholor his pet camp project and challenged the then-new slot receiver.

It just doesn’t make sense to do a lot of tackling. These guys are so big, strong, athletic and explosive that it seems like the risk of injuries isn’t worth the reward. You do need to hit and the Eagles do their share of that.

  1. A running diary of team drills, with the first unit: Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox slanted past center Jason Kelce and blew up running back Corey Clement in the backfield. Wentz would later get Cox to jump offside with his hard count. Agholor took an end-around, but was met by cornerback Ronald Darby. Pryor, filling in for Brooks, was whistled for a false start. Defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao patted his helmet as if to say, “We know it was you!” Foles completed three straight passes, but each was of the check-down variety. Sproles shot through a gaping hole and motored upfield. Does this guy ever age?

The problem with TC…Eagle on Eagle crime. Fletcher Cox blows up a play! But he beat Jason Kelce to do it. As long as no one is getting beaten too much, you’re okay. You worry when one unit or one loses too often. That’s not a good sign.


And here is Sheil and Bo from The Athletic.

Sidney Jones is back as the first-team nickel, flanked by usual starters Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. For those keeping track at home, in three practices, it’s been Jones in there twice and De’Vante Bausby in there once. This could change, but for now, it’s looking like a two-man race. Nate Gerry, meanwhile, is the starting WILL linebacker today.

Jones and Bausby will compete for the nickel job for a while. I’m sure the Eagles would love Jones to win it, but they won’t force him into the lineup. It will be interesting to see if it is 50-50 on who lines up with the starters or if that is slanted toward Jones. The team won’t just give him the job, but that doesn’t mean they won’t help him out a bit. Jones is a big time talent. It makes sense to want him on the field and to try to make that happen.

Interesting changeup during a run period. The Eagles have Joe Walker in at middle linebacker flanked by Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks. Most likely, this is just to get Walker comfortable should he need to call the defense, but perhaps it could go beyond that if he performs well.

I don’t know what to make of Walker. The guy we saw in 2016 looked good. Last year he didn’t have his athleticism and it showed. The Eagles need to see what he’s got so they know if they need to be on the lookout for a backup MLB.

It’s been said before, but Darren Sproles looks like he always looks: quick and shifty. Yes, he has to stay healthy, but it doesn’t look like the 35-year-old Sproles has lost anything physically. I think he’s going to see plenty of third-down snaps on offense this season.

Sproles relies on quickness, agility and explosion to win battles. Coming off a knee injury, it was fair to wonder if he would lose any of that. So far, sounds like he’s all the way back, or at least close to it. We’ll know for sure when we see him in a game setting.


The boys from Tons of stuff here.

The quarterbacks worked to get the ball out quickly and quite a few times with no support in the backfield. A couple of snaps stood out while Foles was in at quarterback. Hicks came up the middle, and the coverage on the back end gave Foles nowhere to go with the ball. The other snap was on a blitz by Gerry. Foles looked to get the ball to running back Darren Sproles in the flat, but Gerry’s blitz forced a bad throw that landed incomplete. Carson Wentz did not participate in this portion of practice. – Chris

Jim Schwartz doesn’t like to blitz much, but the Eagles do a good job when he turns his guys loose. Good to hear Nate Gerry is making some plays. Gotta do that as a LB.

The Eagles signed wide receiver DeAndre Carter on Saturday morning, and he took part in his first practice. The 5-8, 190-pound speedster showed some juice during this portion of practice as he hauled in a rope from Carson Wentz. The quarterback tried to connect with Carter deep down the left sideline later in this drill, but safety Tre Sullivan had good position shielding Carter from coming toward the numbers to make the catch. – Chris

 I agree with Chris. Carter is short but he is built like a running back and he does have some juice. This is the first I’ve ever seen of him. He ran two crisp routes in this drill, and came away with that nice catch early on, which was good to see for the newcomer. – Fran

Carter is a slot receiver type. He’s been with several teams, but hasn’t been able to stick. The Eagles obviously felt he was worth taking a look at. Sounds like he’s off to a good start (unlike Kamar Aiken).

After Pumphrey beat Corey Nelson on a route out of the backfield, Matt Jones tried to run the same route against Jordan Hicks. The veteran linebacker was having none of it, as he sat on the route and picked off Carson Wentz. – Fran

Pumphrey beating a LB isn’t a big deal, but Nelson is a coverage specialist. That’s good for Pump, but bad for Nelson. We are hearing nothing but good things about Hicks so far. The Eagles D needs him to be all the way back.

Darby was strong in this drill as well. He was all over Mack Hollins on a slant route, forcing an incomplete throw from quarterback Joe Callahan. He smothered Anthony Mahoungou on a comeback route. My favorite rep from Darby was against Markus Wheaton, who tried to shake Darby in every way possible only to come up empty. – Chris

Darby hasn’t gotten a lot of attention so far. He’s not as outspoken as Mills. He’s not as talented as Jones or as intriguing as Bausby. Darby is just a solid pro. A big year will help the Eagles and Darby, who heads to free agency next March.

The team session ends and we move into our second special teams period of practice. I stood by as assistant special teams coach Matthew Harper worked with the gunners and the jammers on the punt and punt return teams. Harper praised Mills several times throughout the session, and young safety Tre Sullivan earned some props as well, both from the coach and from Jenkins, who coached him up on the sidelines after a few reps. Rookies Avonte Maddox and Tim Wilson both had some impressive reps as gunners trying to beat double teams as well. – Fran

Always good to hear about STs. Dave Fipp will be pleased.


One Comment on “TC Notes Roundup – Hitting Begins”

  1. 1 Eagles News: Philadelphia’s defensive players not happy with new NFL hitting rule - Football News Latest said at 6:10 AM on July 30th, 2018:

    […] TC Notes Roundup – Hitting Begins – Iggles BlitzGoedert is off to a strong start. Rookie TEs don’t always adjust quickly to the NFL, but Goedert seems to impress everyone. He knows how to get open. He knows how to use his size when he is covered. Goedert has great hands so he’s going to catch everything that gets close to him. If he can be a functional blocker, Goedert is going to be the #2 TE. […]