Eagles analysis

5 questions for another glimpse at Eagles' 2024 OTAs

As reporters get a chance to see OTA practice again on Thursday, here are five questions on our minds.

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The Eagles are back at OTAs this week to wrap up their voluntary offseason before next week’s mandatory minicamp.

Access is limited for reporters to just two of six sessions. We were there one day last week and will be back for Thursday’s session at the NovaCare Complex. Because of the limited access, all the takeaways from these practices should certainly be taken with a grain of salt.

But as we prepare to head back for OTAs today, here are five questions on my mind:

1. Any players back at practice?

As a reminder, all of these OTAs are completely voluntary but the Eagles have traditionally had strong attendance. There were a few key veterans missing last Wednesday: James Bradberry, Josh Sweat, Lane Johnson, DeVonta Smith, Kelee Ringo, C.J. Uzomah and Jake Elliott.

The most intriguing name on that list is obviously Bradberry. While Eagles general manager Howie Roseman claimed at the Combine that Bradberry was under contract and therefore in their plans, it’s hard to look at this roster and think Bradberry will be on the team. Especially after the Eagles drafted Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean in the top 40 last month. While Bradberry has been around for some of the voluntary offseason, it would be a bit surprising to see him on the field today. If the Eagles release or trade Bradberry after June 1, it would break up the dead cap money on his contract over two seasons. That seems like a very real possibility.

As far as the other veterans, not too worried about most of them. Johnson can work out at his Bro Barn, DeVonta is going to be just fine. I am looking forward to seeing what Sweat looks like in the No. 19 and how Ringo fits into the depth chart.

Aside from that, it’ll be worth checking out if any of the injured players — Nakobe Dean, Sydney Brown, Ainias Smith, Eli Ricks, Zech McPhearson — are doing more today than they were last week.

2. Are the depth charts the same?

Speaking of the depth charts, one of the most notable items from last week was that Isaiah Rodgers was working as the first-team RCB opposite Darius Slay. Of course, Bradberry and Ringo weren’t there and Ricks suffered an injury early in practice. My guess is that Ringo is back and Bradberry isn’t, then he’ll be the top outside cornerback with Slay.

Some other depth chart things to monitor: Is Zack Baun still working as a first-team off-ball linebacker? Is Tyler Steen still getting all the looks at RG? Is Cooper DeJean still getting reps at nickel and outside CB?

3. How does John Ross look?

There’s a new notable receiver on the roster since last week’s open practice. Not long after the Eagles lost DeVante Parker to retirement, they signed former first-round pick John Ross, who was in town during rookie camp as a tryout player.

Ross, 28, was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft but has had a disappointing career. He played in 37 games over his five-year career and has just 957 receiving yards. His last game action came in 2021 and he officially retired last year only to start a comeback with his appearance at rookie camp earlier this month.

It’s intriguing to think about the Eagles’ signing a guy who once held the Combine’s 40-yard dash record (4.22) but it’s pretty unrealistic to think he’ll actually be a contributor with the team this year. Heck, he’s even a pretty big longshot to make the roster. But the fact that the Eagles signed Ross tells me that he can still run. And that speed better be evident in a practice without pads.

4. More A.J. Brown in the slot?

Aside from some more pre-snap motion and uneven formations, the biggest note I had about the offense last week was just how many reps Brown was getting in the slot. I like the idea of using Brown out of the slot more in 2024 and that could be something that new OC Kellen Moore wants too. Because Brown’s usage inside during his two years with the Eagles has been minimal:

2022: 29.0%
2023: 25.4%

There’s a chance we see a good bit of DeVonta Smith in the slot as well this season. During Moore’s years as an NFL offensive coordinator, he has gotten big-time contributions from top receivers playing inside: CeeDee Lamb and Randall Cobb in Dallas and Keenan Allen in Los Angeles.

5. Who will turn some heads?

These practices are always a proving ground for guys you might not even know are on the roster. One guy who caught my attention last week a little bit was receiver Jacob Harris. The 6-5, 211-pound receiver had a few targets go his way. He’s part of a group of big-bodied receivers on futures contracts. Harris was a fourth-round pick by the Rams back in 2021 as an intriguing mash of size and speed.

There are other guys on the roster who might flash. Typically in these non-padded practices, it’s not going to be the linemen. But the skill guys on offense and the defensive backs can often show some of their athletic gifts. Last week, the best offensive play of the practice came on a Tanner McKee pass up the seam to tight end E.J. Jenkins.

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