Eagles training camp observations: Finding targets in the middle of the field


The Eagles returned to practice on Saturday morning after an off day on Friday and were graced by cooler temperatures.

This was a “yellow” practice for the Eagles in full pads. It lasted 1 hour and 23 minutes with a 5 minute developmental period that took it to 1:28.

Sunday’s practice will be at 7 p.m. on the Linc. It’s the only public practice of the spring.

Let’s get to today’s observations:

1. As always, a few housekeeping items:

• Running back Boston Scott was added to the injury report with a concussion. He took a big shot near the goal line from Marcus Epps during Thursday’s practice. He eventually popped up but was on the ground for a while.

• DeVonta Smith (groin), Grant Calcaterra (hamstring), Greg Ward (toe), Jordan Mailata (concussion) and Andre Dillard (concussion) all missed practice again. Mailata and Dillard are going through the concussion protocol but were at least on the field as spectators on Saturday; that’s a good sign.

• Mac McCain III (knee) was limited on Saturday.

• CB Kary Vincent Jr. and CB Jimmy Moreland left practice early with unspecified injuries.

• Brett Toth (knee) and Tyree Jackson (knee) remain on Active/PUP, but have been working out with trainers on side fields.

2. Sometimes when you looked at Jalen Hurts’ spray charts from games last season, there was a notable hole in the middle of the field. There were times when Hurts just didn’t throw there very often. So two plays on Saturday really stood out.

• On one of them, Hurts threw a perfect seam pass to a streaking Dallas Goedert. Those two have been connecting quite a bit this summer.

• A couple plays later, Hurts hit A.J. Brown with a strike in the middle of the field after Brown found some open space. Even before Smith’s injury, the bulk of passes this summer had been going to Brown. He’s been targeted a ton.

3. Overall, it wasn’t a great day for Hurts but it wasn’t a bad one either. It was a decent performance with a few really nice throws mixed in. Note: I didn’t watch 7-on-7s because I opted to watch OL-DL 1-on-1s. (More coming on that in a moment.)

Hurts’ best throw of the day came in 11-on-11s on a deep ball to Brown down the left sideline. Brown had a chance to haul in the pass in the end zone but dropped it. Darius Slay had tight coverage on the play but the ball was dropped in beautifully by Hurts and Brown couldn’t secure it; perhaps Slay got a hand on it. Brown dropped eight passes last year with the Titans — 7.6%.

4. Kyzir White had his best day of training camp on Saturday. The Eagles were mixing and matching several different linebacker combinations but White stood out. He blew up a screen pass to Miles Sanders and also got his hand in to breakup a pass to Dallas Goedert. The Eagles have linebackers; it’s so weird.

5. Jalen Reagor might have made the catch of training camp … but it didn’t count. Reagor got up into the air to highpoint a ball and his helmet was popped off in the process. It looked like Reagor came down with the football but the referee in the area ruled it incomplete. It was close.

A little later in practice, receiver Deon Cain made a really nice concentration catch with the second team working against the first-team defense. James Bradberry jumped the pass and batted it up in the sky. But Cain was able to find it in the air and, even though he was on his back, he hauled it in. Unlucky for Bradberry; good focus from Cain.

6. The most fun part of camp: Offensive line vs. defensive line drills:

• Throughout these sessions, rookie Cam Jurgens has shown off impeccable technique that has even stopped big ol’ Jordan Davis a few times. Not Saturday. Even though Jurgens tried to anchor (and seemingly did everything right) Davis hit him with a bullrush that put Jurgens on skates. It was impressive. As the whistle blew to end the period, these two were lined up again and the coaches didn’t let the rep happen. I’m a little bitter about that.

• Brandon Graham vs. Jack Driscoll has become a daily crime. I always think about what Lane Johnson has said about Graham, calling him a “bleeping bowling ball.” That’s pretty accurate. Graham basically runs through Driscoll every day.

• Lane Johnson handled a bullrush from Haason Reddick with ease.

• Sua Opeta had a couple really impressive reps against Javon Hargrave. Isaac Seumalo is the Eagles’ starting right guard but I’m starting to think Opeta will be the top backup guard on this team, perhaps even over Driscoll.

• Driscoll did have a nice rep against Patrick Johnson, letting the young pass rusher use him momentum against him to get him wide.

• Good rep from rookie Kyron Johnson who went bull to speed to beat Josh Sills to the QB. Sills, by the way, was the second-team left tackle today.

• Isaac Seumalo and Lane Johnson had a good rep against Fletcher Cox and Haason Reddick. Seumalo and Johnson haven’t ever really played next to each other but they look smooth.

• Even though they weren’t practicing, Mailata and Dillard were out there giving tips to their younger teammates between reps. Always good to see.

7. One of Hurts’ best throws on Saturday landed five feet out of bounds. On one play during team drills, Hurts rolled to his left but there was nothing there so he tossed the ball deep out of bounds. That’s a good play for Hurts because earlier in camp his worst play was an INT that he fired into tight coverage rolling to his left across his body. Nick Sirianni complained about interceptions earlier in camp. Hurts didn’t throw one in 11-on-11s today.

8. The Eagles have been rotating at the second-team corner spot opposite Zech McPhearson and rookie Josh Jobe from Alabama made the most of his opportunity on Saturday. Jobe had a great diving pass breakup on a pass from Gardner Minshew to Cain in the back of the end zone. On the next play, Jobe had a handsy PBU on the left sideline. The offense wanted a penalty — A.J. Brown even tossed his towel as a makeshift flag — but the referee standing nearest the play didn’t call it. It counts as a PBU.

9. Without Smith, the Eagles rotated their receivers on the first-team offense. We saw several players get their turn, including Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Britain Covey. But Zach Pascal was the first guy out there with A.J. Brown and Quez Watkins. On the first play in 11-on-11s, Brown and Watkins were wide and Pascal lined up in the slot.

The veteran Pascal returned to practice as a limited participant on Thursday but was full-go on Saturday. He missed the first five practices of the summer with a serious case of food poisoning that put him in the hospital for four days — he thinks it was a quesadilla with some bad chicken. The good news is that Pascal said he’s starting to gain his strength back after losing 16 pounds (!) during the ordeal.

10. Jason Huntley is known as the speedy running back but he was running with a mean streak today. On one play, he lowered his shoulder downfield into safety Andre Chachere. And later, after a nice run toward the left sideline, he delivered an impressive stiff arm. Without Scott, Huntley should get more opportunities.

Stupid Observation of the Day: The Eagles did a fun punt return drill on Saturday. The returner had a football in his hand and as the punt began to drop, they had to toss the ball up in the air, catch the punted ball and then try to catch the ball they tossed to themselves. It looked like the beginning to a juggling act. The only one to successfully pull off the task: Britain Covey.

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