BEREA, Ohio — As the Eagles joined the Browns for their first of two joint practices on Thursday, a lot of the NFL’s attention was on Deshaun Watson.
The NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement that the Browns’ quarterback will serve an 11-game suspension and will pay a fine of $5 million after dozens of allegations of sexual misconduct against Watson.
So safe to say Jonathan Gannon’s big welcome-back-to-Cleveland press conference was not the biggest one of the day.
Anyway, the Eagles and Browns still had a practice that started at 2 p.m. and lasted about 1 hour and 48 minutes. Watson mostly worked with the Browns’ second-team offense. Overall, it was a fun day of work for both teams that had plenty of chippy play throughout and plenty of fun trash talk … but they avoided fights.
After the practice, Fletcher Cox said the leadership councils for both teams met before the session out of respect and vowed to keep their guys in line. That’s pretty typical before these practices, Cox said.
Overall, it was hard to pick a winner and loser of this practice day. It was definitely a closer competition than the four days of joint practices (all wins) we saw the Eagles in last summer.
Let’s get to the observations:
1. Even a trip to Cleveland won’t stop us from doing housekeeping first:
• James Bradberry (groin) was added to the practice report. He left Tuesday’s session early. Bradberry made the trip to Cleveland, but it’s clear the Eagles aren’t going to rush him back.
• Miles Sanders (hamstring) missed his third practice.
• Marcus Epps (back) returned to practice and was again a first-team safety. Good news he missed just one day. Boston Scott (concussion), Le’Raven Clark (hamstring) and John Hightower (groin) were all full participants after being limited on Tuesday.
• Did not practice: Bradberry (groin), Sanders (hamstring), Grant Calcaterra (hamstring), Javon Hargrave (toe), Jason Kelce (elbow), Christian Ellis (hamstring), Greg Ward (toe).
• The Browns were without two key defensive players. Edge rusher Myles Garrett is out for personal reasons and CB Denzel Ward was limited (didn’t participate in team drills) as he comes back from a foot injury.
2. Landon Dickerson might be wanted for attempted murder in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. The Eagles’ big left guard had a monstrous block during the competition 11-on-11 team drill late in practice.
Dickerson (6-6, 332) met Browns linebacker Jacob Phillips (6-3, 228) in the hole and demolished him. This was such a forceful pancake block that Phillips’ imprint might still be on the field. Dickerson celebrated over the linebacker with a little dance.
Lane Johnson didn’t see the play live. But he’s excited to watch it later.
“I was downblocking. But I heard it,” Johnson said. “And then I saw him get up and do this s— (dancing). So I’ll have to go back and watch it.”
3. The Eagles’ offense came out on fire during WR-DB 1-on-1 drills. Hurts started it off with a beautiful sideline pass to A.J. Brown, who brought it in with one hand after beating Greedy Williams in coverage. Then we saw catches from Quez Watkins, DeVonta Smith, Zach Pascal, Britain Covey, Jalen Reagor and Deon Cain. There were seven straight completions before the ball hit the ground when Watkins couldn’t bring in a deep ball one-handed.
The most impressive reps of those seven completions might have come from Pascal, who routed up Herb Miller so bad the cornerback fell to his knees.
4. When the Eagles’ offense and defense split fields today, I stayed with the Eagles’ offense and my colleague Reuben Frank watched the defense. So this one is courtesy of what Roob told me. The Browns ran the ball quite a bit in this practice and also worked on their play action game way more than the Eagles do. The Browns had a few runs go for big yardage and hit some deep shots off the play action.
This is good for the Eagles to see a different kind of offense in the summer.
For what it’s worth, every time I glanced to that field, it seemed like there were some big plays happening downfield and the Eagles were on the losing end of it.
5. For the most part, Johnson held his own against Jadeveon Clowney, who is still a really good edge rusher. Johnson shut Clowney down in 1-on-1s and mostly slowed him down in 11-on-11s except on one rep when Clowney actually caught Johnson off balance and knocked him to the seat of his pants.
“It felt good, man. It’s always good to go against competition,” Johnson said. “Having guys like that makes you better for the season.”
6. During the competitive 11-on-11 period with everyone watching, Josh Sweat picked up a nice sack. And then with the second team, Patrick Johnson had a sack and another play where he applied a ton of pressure. Johnson has come on very strong.
7. Second-year tight end Jack Stoll had a great catch late in practice on a slant from Gardner Minshew. The pass was slightly behind Stoll, but he was able to reach his arms back and catch the pass without breaking stride. Stoll had just four catches for 22 yards as a rookie but has been solid this training camp.
8. Hurts had one of his best throws of the summer. On an off-schedule play, Hurts stepped up to his left (something he’s generally not great at) and delivered a 20-yard strike near the left sideline to Brown. Hurts had to get it into a tight window just over the outstretched arms of Ronnie Harrison Jr.
Overall, Hurts had some ups and downs, but I thought it was a pretty solid day for him and a great day for DeVonta Smith, who was pretty much unstoppable early in practice. Even late in the day, Hurts tossed a deep ball to Smith, who couldn’t catch it but was able to draw a DPI.
It wasn’t a perfect practice for Hurts, though. In particular, there was one play when Hurts rolled to his left and tried to throw it across his body to Dallas Goedert in the middle of the field. The dangerous pass was broken up.
9. When the fields were split, Hurts and the first-team offense had the advantage over the Browns’ first-team defense but Minshew and Reid Sinnett struggled at first, each throwing interceptions. The Browns celebrated each of those picks with vigor, something that raised the intensity level of the practice.
10. Another observation from Roob: Jordan Davis had a dominant period during early 11-on-11s, stuffing a run and then creating pressure for Haason Reddick to clean up with a sack.
Stupid Observation of the Day: Eagles receiver and Olympic hurdler Devon Allen has had a pretty quiet training camp but gave me one of my favorite moments of the summer on Thursday. After tossing a Browns player to the ground during a special teams period, he hurdled over him in celebration.
The Browns didn’t appreciate that.
“Why get mad at an Olympian?,” Brown said. “That’s what he does.”
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