The Eagles were back on the practice field on Monday evening and they brought some friends with them, hosting their first of two joint sessions against the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns hosted the Eagles for a couple joint practices last year in Berea, Ohio, and the Eagles are repaying their part of the home-and-home in 2023.
It was good to see some familiar faces back in Philly:
While there was some cheering and a bit of jawing, there were no fights between the two teams on Monday. That’s good news for these two coaching staffs.
For the most part, I watched the Eagles’ offense when the fields were split. I’ll switch for Tuesday’s session and watch their defense more. But the final team period was on the same field with both sidelines watching to give it a more competitive feel.
Let’s get to the observations:
1. As always, we start with housekeeping:
• The Eagles made a roster move on Monday, signing DT Olive Sagapolu and placing LB Shaun Bradley on Injured Reserve. Bradley suffered a torn Achilles in the preseason game on Saturday. Sagapolu is wearing No. 66
• The injury report from the start of practice:
Will not practice: WR Britain Covey (hamstring), LB Patrick Johnson (ankle), WR Quez Watkins (hamstring)
Limited: WR Deon Cain (ankle)
• Left guard Landon Dickerson left practice early. After a trip to the medical tent he went inside. But after practice, he was walking around the practice field with his left ankle wrapped. Doesn’t look serious.
2. A few depth chart notes:
• Sydney Brown wasn’t out there at the start of team drills but the rookie safety did get some first-team reps. He had a strong performance in the preseason game and presumably earned first-team looks.
• Without Watkins, we saw Olamide Zaccheus work with the Eagles’ first-team in the slot.
• When Dickerson left practice, the Eagles first gave Sua Opeta some of those left guard reps but then inserted Josh Sills later. Gives an idea of the depth chart.
• When the entire field gathered around one field late in practice, they began with Nakobe Dean next to Nicholas Morrow at linebacker. Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds were at safety.
3. It was a rough day for the Eagles’ first-team offensive line against the Browns, who had several “sacks” in team drills. Myles Garrett, as you might imagine, was a handful for Jordan Mailata on the left side of the line. Garrett had a couple and really wrecked practice for a while but it wasn’t just him.
Sometimes it’s tough to tell exactly what is and isn’t a “sack” in a practice setting. But the Browns had around five or six in this practice and Jalen Hurts was forced to try to leave the practice several times.
4. On a couple of those near sacks, Hurts ended up scrambling and delivering really impressive throws that may or may not have counted in a game. That’s another tricky thing with an elusive quarterback like Hurts in a practice setting.
Hurts threw an impressive ball to DeVonta Smith on one of those plays after Smith gained some separation from Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward deep down the right sideline. A few plays later, it was a similar situation with an even more impressive throw from Hurts. He threw it across his body on a rope to Smith, who got some space against Ward. Hurts really zipped it in there.
It’s probably fair to say that the Eagles’ best offensive plays against the Browns on Monday came off-schedule, which isn’t ideal.
5. Ward also got the best of Hurts in 7-on-7s. He picked off Hurts on a deep pass down the right sideline intended for Smith. It was a tad underthrown — Smith had a step — and Ward made Hurts pay for it with an interception.
6. (Guest ob from Roob) Over at the middle field, the Eagles’ first defense went up against the Browns’ 1’s and 2’s in 7-on-7s. The most notable play for the Eagles was an interception by Reid Blankenship off Browns backup QB Josh Dobbs, who started the last two games last year for the Titans. Dobbs targeted receiver Anthony Schwartz, but linebacker Zach Cunningham batted the ball in the air and Blankenship snagged it.
Darius Slay and Amari Cooper got some good work against each other, but the best play by an Eagles defender against Cooper came along the left sideline when Avonte Maddox stuck his right hand in front of Cooper on a 12-yard out from Deshaun Watson, batting the ball away. Cooper beat Slay for a 20-yard gain from Watson on a corner route, but the next time they paired up, Slay had great coverage on Cooper and Watson threw the ball 10 feet over Cooper’s head.
7. After an impressive performance in the preseason game, receiver Tyrie Cleveland followed it up with a beautiful catch on a Marcus Mariota pass on Monday. Cleveland caught a perfect pass put on his back shoulder by Mariota with CB Lorenzo Burns offering tight coverage. It was a gain of 25-plus yards.
8. We’ve talked a lot about the Eagles’ running backs catching the ball out of the backfield this summer but we’re also seeing them line them up in other spots to gain matchup advantages. On Monday, the Eagles had D’Andre Swift lined up wide right and threw a quick bubble screen his way for a nice gain. They then ran a very similar play to Kenny Gainwell on the left sideline that wasn’t as successful.
Also saw a nice burst from Swift during the first team period of the day. He’s shifty and can really accelerate.
9. Some notes from watching Eagles receivers work vs. Browns DBs in 1-on-1s:
• The highlight play came from A.J. Brown, who caught a deep ball on Martin Emerson Jr. The ball was placed perfectly on his back shoulder and Brown used his signature late hands to bring it in down the left sideline.
• Ward got a PBU on Smith on their first rep against each other but Smith came back later and got some separation on a curl.
• Nice separation from Zaccheaus, who carved up Mike Ford Jr. on an inside route.
10. At the end of practice, both teams gathered around one field for a competitive period with everyone watching. This is basically a game replacement for Eagles starters, who aren’t going to play much (if at all) this preseason.
The Eagles’ offense came out with a couple quick passes to Dallas Goedert and then a quick 10-yard out to Brown. But after that, Smith failed to haul in a deep ball that turned him around, Hurts had to scramble away from pressure and the drive stalled. Even without Garrett and Ward on the field. Both left practice early for the Browns.
The Eagles’ defense looked pretty good against the Browns’ offense in this period and they were aided by a couple drops from Cooper, who dropped 12(!) passes last season. The drive was ended by a Jalen Carter sack as the rookie continues to get more work with the first team. It’s worth noting that Derek Barnett lined up inside on that play and some of his best reps this summer have come from a DT position.
Stupid Observation of the Day: I’m a creature of habit so when I arrived for an evening practice, I couldn’t stop myself from saying “Good morning!” to every person I saw on my walk to the field. Maybe I’ll get it right tomorrow.