Eagles analysis

Eagles minicamp observations: Don't forget about Kelee Ringo 

The Eagles kicked off their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Here are 10 observations from practice.

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The Eagles kicked off their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday with a practice that lasted 1 hour and 5 minutes in the June sun.

This the first mandatory minicamp in Nick Sirianni’s four years as Eagles head coach and after Thursday’s session wraps up, the team will break until late July, when they report for training camp.

Here are some observations and notes from today’s practice:

1. The Eagles had very strong attendance on Tuesday. Just one player was missing and Landon Dickerson’s absence was an excused one.

That meant that James Bradberry was on the field Tuesday for the first time in a practice where reporters were permitted to watch. But Bradberry’s day didn’t go well. He suffered an injury during position drills and didn’t even make it to the team portion of practice. Bradberry, 30, took a trip to the medical tent and emerged without a helmet to watch the rest of the session.

Just before practice began, Sirianni said Bradberry was going to be at safety a bit on Tuesday, but we never got to see it.

Sydney Brown (ACL) is still not practicing. He worked out on a side field and then watched most of practice. Le’Raven Clark, who is on IR, was watching practice but was out there on a Roll-A-Bout and had a walking boot on his right leg. Receiver Jacob Harris was a spectator with an unknown injury.

2. Offensive depth chart notes:

• Without Dickerson, the Eagles had Mekhi Becton working at left guard. Becton was viewed by many as a left tackle-only player early in his career. But Eagles OL coach Jeff Stoutland touted Becton’s versatility and we’ve seen that already. He took snaps at right tackle during OTAs and was the first-team guard on Tuesday. Here was the first-team offensive line (from left to right): Jordan Mailata, Becton, Cam Jurgens, Tyler Steen, Lane Johnson.

• DeVonta Smith missed the two days of OTAs that were open to reporters so this was our first glimpse at him this spring. He and A.J. Brown are the obvious starters at receiver and then there was a rotation after that. But the next guy up on Tuesday was clearly Parris Campbell.

• Last year’s backup left tackle Fred Johnson got some reps with the second team at right tackle this year. The Eagles have been side-specific with their backup tackles in recent years but this year it looks like they’re promoting the idea of having swing tackles.

3. Defensive depth chart notes:

• The top cornerbacks on the outside today were Darius Slay at LCB and Kelee Ringo at RCB. Avonte Maddox got the first first-team reps at nickel but we also saw him at safety and saw Tyler Hall get nickel reps. Quinyon Mitchell and Isaiah Rodgers were the second-team outside cornerbacks. 

• Reed Blankenship and C.J. Gardner-Johnson were the top safeties. Tristin McCollum and Maddox were the second-team safeties.

• The top linebackers on Tuesday were Devin White and Zack Baun, although we did see Nakobe Dean get a look there as well. Dean and Oren Burks were second-team LBs, while Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Ben VanSumeren worked with the third team.

• During 11-on-11s, we saw Bryce Huff, Jalen Carter, Jordan Davis, Milton Williams and Josh Sweat work with the first team on the DL.

4. Don’t forget about Kelee Ringo. Playing RCB on Tuesday, Ringo was sticky in coverage and made some nice plays.

• Ringo had perfect coverage on a deep ball to Campbell down the left sideline. Ringo was able to stick with Campbell, turn his head to locate the ball and then high-point it and knock it away. Text book stuff.

 • He also had a nice rep against John Ross, where he gave the speedy receiver a subtle bump, which was just enough to disrupt the timing on a Jalen Hurts deep ball that soared over everyone’s heads.

• Ringo even looked good when he gave up a pass to Brown. Sure, Brown was able to shield Ringo from the ball with his big frame on a comeback route, but Ringo was right there and would have had Brown for a minimal gain.

Chances are that rookie Mitchell will eventually do enough to earn the starting spot opposite Slay but Ringo deserves to be in the mix right now. He played well when given the chance last season and might end up being pretty good in the league. The Eagles drafted Ringo in the fourth-round but gave up a future third-round pick to do it and there’s a reason Ringo garnered some first-round buzz last year. Might be something there. And even if Ringo doesn’t get the chance to be a starter this season, he’s still just 21. He’s actually younger than Mitchell. So it’s possible the future of the Eagles’ at CB could be Mitchell, Ringo and Cooper DeJean.

5. After two OTA practices and one minicamp practice, I feel pretty comfortable saying the Eagles’ offense is going to look different this year. Saw some more motion in this practice but the differences go beyond that. The formations are way less static these days. We saw some bunch formations, trips formations, more spread looks. Things are a little more complex and it might take a while for everyone to adjust but it’s exciting to see some of these things take hold.

6. A couple of special teams notes:

• The punt returners on Tuesday in this order: Britain Covey, Ainias Smith, Isaiah Rodgers, C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Cooper DeJean. Interesting to see CJGJ get a chance there.

The first two punt returns weren’t great, though. Back-to-back muffs for Covey and Smith, who both dropped to do 10 pushups.

• The Eagles spent a bunch of time working on pinning punts deep as an animated Sirianni watched closely. He was not happy to see a few bad reps and made the group do a couple extra despite the rest of the team lingering, ready to do 11-on-11s.

The best rep in this period came from Josh Jobe, who made an incredibly athletic play to leap over the goal line and tap the ball back into play, pinning the opposition inside the 5. This play drew praise from the coaches. The next guy up was Mitchell, who wasn’t even close to keeping his feet out of bounds. He got yelled at by Sirianni for not watching his feet. The good news is that Mitchell probably won’t be getting very many gunner reps in his career.

7. Speaking of Mitchell, both he and DeJean got some reps as the sixth defensive back on the field, lining up as dime linebackers on different occasions. Mitchell even had some nice coverage on Goedert on one of these plays.

We knew the Eagles valued DeJean’s versatility but we’re seeing them get Mitchell on the field in other spots now too. It’s clear how much this defensive staff values this versatility on the back end.

8. During 7-on-7s, White had an interception on a Hurts pass that was deflected by Blankenship. The pass from Hurts wasn’t perfect to Smith, who was working out of the slot. While the idea of Smith in the slot is intriguing, these types of routes are notable because you want to make sure he’s not getting muscled off his spot. Not sure that really happened here, though; this was just a nice play from Blankenship.

Overall, it was honestly a bit of a boring practice without many highlight plays. But Hurts looks solid, especially throwing to his two star receivers.

Kenny Pickett had a couple misfires with the second team. One of them was to Kenny Gainwell down the left sideline on a wheel route. Gainwell got a step on VanSumeren and Pickett just overshot him.

9. During 7-on-7s, Pickett hit Ross in stride on a crossing route near the sideline but Ross failed to get his second foot in. It’s a play the veteran really should make with as much space as he had. A bit later, Smith made a catch on the other sideline and was able to tap his toes in bounds. Smith has such elite body control.

10. When asked about the WR3 spot before practice, Sirianni mentioned that the fifth skill guy doesn’t necessarily have to be a receiver. The first name he actually mentioned was third-year tight end Grant Calcaterra, who has grand total of 9 catches in the NFL. That made me chuckle a bit but then Calcaterra ended up having a nice day, making a few grabs all over the field. Maybe he’s ready to take a bit of a jump in Year 3?

Stupid Observation of the Day: Jalen Hurts opted for long pants today despite the high temperatures. Questionable decision but he still showed off his arms. Looks like he hasn’t been skipping the weight room. 

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