10 observations from Eagles minicamp: The return of Mack Hollins … sorta


The Eagles kicked off their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. They have practice each of these three days until they part ways for the summer. After Thursday, they won’t be back until training camp. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said every player reported to the mandatory camp, but not every player practiced. 

Here are 10 observations from Tuesday’s practice: 

1. Sound the alarms! Mack Hollins practiced! 

The Eagles’ fourth-round pick from 2017 missed all of the 2018 season with a long and somewhat mysterious groin injury. Pederson previously said he expected Hollins to be ready to practice at training camp, but Hollins came back in a limited fashion a little earlier. 

On Tuesday, Hollins didn’t participate in team portions, but he did join in for wide receiver drills. During OTAs, Hollins was spotted working out on a side field, so things have been trending in the right direction. 

It might not sound like much, but this is the most we’ve seen Hollins do in a long time. And he looked pretty good. 

2. Attendance time: Every player reported to camp but not every player is practicing just yet. Nelson Agholor was not at practice and presumably has some kind of injury. He has been in the building and was around for photo day on Monday. Miles Sanders also didn’t practice (see story)

This group worked on a side field: Fletcher Cox, Corey Clement, Nigel Bradham, Brandon Brooks (Cox, Bradham and Brooks hadn’t been working on a side field during OTA practices).

Ronald Darby, Rodney McLeod and Hollins did some individual drills. 

Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Alshon Jeffery and Malcolm Jenkins were back after skipping OTAs (they at least skipped the four days reporters were there). 

Blake Countess and Paul Worrilow returned to practice after missing some time with their respective injuries. 

3. We’ve talked about Carson Wentz’s arm strength but the $128 million man showed off his touch today on a few passes. One was a beautiful deep ball in 7-on-7s to Marken Michel, who was covered by Avonte Maddox. Maddox had good coverage, but Wentz dropped it in the bucket. He then hit JJ Arcega-Whiteside deep down the sideline for about a 25-yard gain. 

He can make every throw; that’s why he was the No. 2 pick and that’s part of the reason he just got paid. 

4. We mentioned Michel, so let’s talk about him a little more. He made a few nice grabs today. That deep ball from Wentz was one. He also came back to a ball thrown by Nate Sudfeld near the sideline and leaped up to get it. Even though Michel hasn’t returned punts this spring, special teams coordinator Dave Fipp mentioned him as a possibility for that role. Michel’s story is an interesting one. He’s the older brother of Patriots running back Sony Michel and has spent the last few years in the CFL. 

5. Like he was during OTAs, Halapoulivaati Vaitai was working as the first-team right guard. This now seems less like simple cross-training and is now into the territory of preparing Vaitai for the possibility of being a backup guard or even starting in the event that Brooks isn’t ready for the start of the season. Pederson even mentioned the importance of Vaitai and Johnson learning how to play next to each other. 

6. Here was the first-team offense: 

OL: Jason Peters, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Vaitai, Johnson

QB: Wentz; RB: Jordan Howard; WR: Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, (Greg Ward Jr. in 11 personnel)

TE: Zach Ertz (Dallas Goedert in 12 personnel) 

Here was the first-team defense: 

DL: Brandon Graham, Tim Jernigan, Malik Jackson, Vinny Curry

LBs: Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, (Paul Worrilow in base) 

CBs: Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones (outside in Nickel)

S: Malcolm Jenkins, Andrew Sendejo, (Tre Sullivan in dime)

Note: On offense, Brooks and Agholor aren’t practicing. On defense, Derek Barnett, Jalen Mills, Nigel Bradham, Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod aren’t practicing. 

7. It was interesting to see Greg Ward Jr. get first-team reps in the slot in Agholor’s absence. We also saw Ward get used in some different ways. On one fake punt, he ended up with the ball. And the Eagles also ran a trick play on offense with him. They pitched the ball to Ward, a former college QB, who then threw it to Michel. Ward has been around for a while now and came back after his time in the AAF. He has a better chance of making the 53-man roster than I originally thought. 

8. Dallas Goedert caught a touchdown pass. You’ve heard it a lot this spring and you’ll probably hear it a lot during training camp. This time, he caught a ball that somehow went through the hands of Josh Hawkins during 7-on-7s. I mean, like, it really looked like it went through his hand. Hawkins held out his palms to make sure they still worked. 

9. The three guys who did most of the punt returning on Tuesday were Boston Scott, DeAndre Thompkins and Donnel Pumphrey. DeSean Jackson got worked into the mix a little too. The Eagles are preparing for Jackson to be used as an occasional punt returner this season. 

“We'll pick our spots with him,” Pederson said. 

Meanwhile, I tried to watch the gunners on the punt team today. The top unit was Sidney Jones and Shelton Gibson. Then Cre’Von LeBlanc and Charles Johnson. Then Deiondre' Hall and Michel. Just something to keep in the back of your mind.  

10. Practice ended today with an interception. Rookie Clayton Thorson threw an ugly pass to end practice. He airmailed a pass and it landed in the arms of safety Godwin Igwebuike. Thorson has been shaky the last couple of practices, but a few times on Tuesday he showed off his speed as a runner. He has more wheels than I thought. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: There was one play when Kelce’s snap flew way over Wentz’s head and the play was whistled dead but not before one defensive player shrieked on his way to the ball. It was loud and shrill. I think it was Nate Gerry but it was hard to tell. 

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