Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles training camp observations: Olamide Zaccheaus makes some plays

The Eagles were back on the practice field Thursday for their final session before Saturday's preseason opener

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The Eagles had a shorter and lighter practice on Thursday morning as a light drizzle began to fall.

This practice was also non-padded. Players were in shells and shorts.

This was the Eagles’ final practice before the first preseason game of 2023 at Baltimore on Saturday night.

Let’s get into the observations:

1. As always, some housekeeping items:

• DeVonta Smith returned to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session for personal reasons. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Smith traveled to Las Vegas for the sentencing of his close friend Henry Ruggs.

Some good news on the injury front: Nakobe Dean (ankle) and Devon Allen (calf) were completely removed from the injury report. Both participated in team drills.

• The only two players who didn’t practice were Patrick Johnson (ankle) and Deon Cain (ankle).

2. Some depth chart items:

• The Eagles didn’t get as much first-team work in team drills today but the first linebackers on the field were Nakobe Dean and Nicholas Morrow, with Christian Elliss working in. Newcomers Myles Jack and Zach Cunningham were relegated to second team, along with Shaun Bradley.

• Smith returned after missing Wednesday’s session but didn’t participate in team drills. The Eagles began with A.J. Brown, Quez Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus on the field.

• James Bradberry again participated in team drills but as he works his way back from groin soreness, the Eagles are taking things slowly. He split first-team reps with Josh Jobe.

• Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds began the day as the first-team safeties. I did notice K’Von Wallace get some linebacker reps with the second-team defense; we have seen Edmunds get similar reps at times.

• Cameron Tom has taken over third-team center duties from Julian Good-Jones.

3. Free agent pickup Olamide Zaccheaus had a slower start to camp and even had a few uncharacteristic drops, but he’s coming on over the last few practices. He had two big catches on Thursday. The first came in 7-on-7s with the first-team offense. Jalen Hurts hit Zaccheaus on a ball near the right sideline with Avonte Maddox trailing. Maddox had tight coverage but it was a great grab from Zaccheaus, who managed to stay inbounds.

The second catch from Zaccheaus came in team drills with the second team. Zaccheaus found himself pretty wide open streaking down the right sideline and Marcus Mariota hit him in stride for a touchdown. Wallace was late sliding over. Might have been a busted coverage.

4. The first-team offense didn’t get a ton of work on Thursday and Hurts was up-and-down but he did find Dallas Goedert on two of the first four plays in 11-on-11s and Goedert had another nice catch in 7-on-7s a bit later. The thing that has really stood out about Goedert is his understanding how to use his body to box out defenders. He did it against Elliss in 7-on-7 and against Edmunds in 11s. He also caught a slant on Elliss in team drills.

5. While it’s a bit tough to really tell because the Eagles rotate their defensive linemen so naturally, Jalen Carter has been getting more and more first-team reps recently as he climbs the depth chart. He had one nice play on Thursday, when he began to knife through the line but then reacted and batted down a Hurts pass when it came out quickly.

6. There were some dignitaries in attendance at Thursday’s practice: Former Eagles Malcolm Jenkins and Todd Herremans, CBS Sports host James Brown and Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro.

Not sure what it says about me that I was able to easily identify Jenkins, Herremans and Brown but someone had to tell me the governor was there.

7. Hurts and Brown have a really good feel of the back shoulder throw. They missed that connection on Thursday, though. Hurts just led Brown a little too much and the throw carried him out of bounds on the left sideline.

But watching Brown on those routes is a lot of fun. He’s very smooth and gets away with a slight push-off that is pretty undetectable for a ref.

8. Mariota locked in on Tyrie Cleveland during 7-on-7s and Jobe was all over him for a pass breakup. Jobe has seemingly solidified himself as the Eagles' top backup outside cornerback and has played well all summer. He’s ahead of Greedy Williams and Kelee Ringo right now.

9. Grant Calcaterra missed an opportunity to make a spectacular play in the end zone. The pass from Mariota was behind Calcaterra as he ran from right to left. The second-year tight end contorted his body and got both hands on the ball that was thrown behind him but couldn’t haul it in.

10. Rookie defensive tackle Moro Ojomo had a couple impressive reps working against Good-Jones, who played left guard with the third team on Thursday. A strong bullrush from Ojomo.

Stupid Observation of the Day: (Guest ob from Roob) There’s an offensive line drill Jeff Stoutland likes to put his guys through where linemen hold up giant blocking pads and work on footwork against opposing pass rushers – who in this case are other offensive linemen. During this drill on Thursday, Landon Dickerson was the blocker and Jason Kelce was the “pass rusher.” Kelce took something that resembled a pass rush stance and then sprinted toward Dickerson screaming at the top of his lungs. I don’t know how much they got out of the drill, but everybody in the group cracked up.

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