We’re less than two weeks away from the Eagles’ regular season opener in New England on Sept. 10.
It’ll be here before you know it.
As the Eagles work to finalize and then massage their 53-man roster leading up to opening day, let’s clean out the notebook with some interesting nuggets:
Perspective on Bradberry in the slot
One of the more fascinating developments from Eagles training camp this summer was seeing how many snaps veteran cornerback James Bradberry took as a nickel corner.
It’s something Bradberry hasn’t done much of in the NFL and at 6-foot-1, 212 pounds, he’s not exactly the prototypical size you see from a slot corner.
When asked about all those reps inside, Bradberry talked about injuries and being ready to play wherever the coaching staff needs him in 2023. But with how many snaps he got inside this summer, this seems like it goes beyond checking for depth. It seems like the Eagles are going to use him inside at times this season.
And having a bigger bodied cornerback makes sense with certain matchups, especially against some top tier tight ends. Dallas Goedert gave his perspective as a top tight end after facing Bradberry this summer.
“Obviously, I got to face JB a little bit this year,” Goedert said. “He’s a tremendous player, obviously. He was an All-Pro last year. Just facing somebody like that, it makes you work a little bit harder. You go against a linebacker and the little jab might work. Well, James is more patient. He’s seen it, he’s a really smart player.
“So you have to make sure you’re on all your fundamentals when you go against him. Your release, the top of the route. Because when you’re going against a corner of his caliber, his breaks are so good, his patience is so good. You have to make sure you’re not giving him any tells and win at the line of scrimmage, which isn’t always easy. Getting reps against him has been really good for all of us.”
Bradberry won’t have to face Goedert in any games this season, but all you have to do is scan the Eagles’ schedule for 2023 and you’ll see all the tough tight end matchups coming: Travis Kelce, George Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Darren Waller, Zach Ertz and more.
It’s definitely not a bad idea to use Bradberry as a weapon against some of those guys.
Learning from the best
It wasn’t that long ago when Eagles fans were clamoring for the team to find just one elite receiver. Now, the Eagles have two in A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
What makes it so much fun to have two guys with this much talent are the little things that separate them from most of the receivers in the NFL. They’re both extremely advanced in certain areas.
So over the last couple of days, I asked both of them what part of the other’s game they have adopted. Here are their answers:
Smith: “I would say playing with the hands and things like that. Using your hands at the line of scrimmage. Late hands. Catching passes over the shoulder. Things like that.”
Brown: “We always trying to pour life into each other and speak about routes and stuff. I’d definitely say just the routes he runs, how clean he runs them. I’m definitely always trying to learn something. I’ll learn from anybody. I’m a student of the game. It doesn’t matter who runs the route, but everybody knows DeVonta is slippery. He runs really clean routes.”
Confidence from Lane
Lane Johnson has played next to a lot of right guards over the past few seasons and he’s getting another one in 2023. That spot now belongs to Cam Jurgens.
The 2022 second-round pick basically had a redshirt rookie season but after Isaac Seumalo left in free agency, Jurgens is stepping in between Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson at right guard this season.
And Johnson has really helped Jurgens get comfortable in his new position.
“I feel like he’s put a lot of confidence in me,” Jurgens said. “I think he’s trusted me and he feels confident in me and I feel confident in him. I think just having that helps you become a better football player. When you’re confident, I feel like you play a lot quicker and you’re faster and you’re seeing stuff better and you communicate better and more efficiently and I think that’s helped a ton.”
How has Johnson shown that confidence in Jurgens?
Jurgens said it shows up in their on-field communication.
“I feel like we’ve been able to get on a better page and be able to communicate much more efficiently throughout this training camp,” Jurgens said. “I think it’s been really beneficial to go through those barriers and get better at that. I feel like people don’t realize how much communication is happening. Instead of saying five words, you can get to a point where you’re just saying one word and you know what you guys are thinking and doing. I think that aspect, we’ve gotten a lot better at.”
How Smith impressed Reddick
Eagles rookie first-round pick Nolan Smith has missed the last five practices and the preseason finale with a shoulder injury, which is a shame. Because he was improving rapidly before the injury.
That really stood out to Pro Bowl edge rusher Haason Reddick.
“He looked way better from Game 1 to Game 2. Big improvement,” Reddick said Monday. “Even rushing (the quarterback) was better. He was able to get some pressures on the QB, almost had himself a sack. So seeing some really good things. The biggest thing was how he was able to make corrections from his first preseason game to his second game.”
While Smith has missed these last several practices, he still seems very engaged. He can be seen behind individual drills, taking mental reps and going through the motions with his technique.
That’s exactly what Reddick likes to see.
“Just making sure that he’s staying fresh on the defense, locked in,” Reddick said. “He shouldn’t take it as time off.”