Eagles training camp 2022 observations, Day 2: Defense wins

Eagles training camp 2022 observations, Day 2: Defense wins

The Eagles were back on the practice field Friday morning for their second practice of training camp.

It was a cloudy day and it felt nice and cool in the shade. No doubt when the pads go on next week it will be 100 degrees.

After the first training camp lasted only 58 minutes, this one was a bit longer. The entire practice was 1:15, but the last 5 minutes were for a development period with younger players fighting to stay in the NFL.

To the observations:

1. As always, we start with a few household items. Three players remain on PUP: Tyree Jackson, Brett Toth and Richard Rodgers. So they don’t practice.

The only two other players who did not practice on Friday were receivers Zach Pascal (illness) and Keric Wheatfall (COVID progression). Pascal tweeted on Thursday about food poisoning, which can take a toll on anyone. The good news is that Pascal could at least be on the pitch as a spectator on Friday:

Jason Kelce (Covid progression) and Fletcher Cox (Covid progression) were limited participants in practice and did not participate in team drills. After Wednesday’s practice, Cox said he felt better. After Friday’s practice, Kelce said the same thing.

2. The offense looked very sharp on Day 1 of training camp and got the better of the defense. The roles were reversed on Friday.

Jalen Hurts was not having a good day. He was not alone. The entire attack, apart from a few bright moments, was not good.

“It didn’t look good,” said Kelce, who was a bystander as he returns from COVID. “I had to go back and watch it more on tape. I think the defense probably feel that we took them over on the first day. I think they came out here with a lot of energy and effort today. And that’s what you want to see. You want to see those sides of the ball compete against each other.”

This is happening. Nothing to worry too much about. Now, if the offense looks bad for a week straight, then that’s a problem. But there are going to be some ups and downs throughout the camp.

As much as you can say the Eagles offense struggled on Friday — and it did — credit also goes to Jonathan Gannon’s defense. They made plays.

3. One of the biggest bright spots of the day for the offense was when Hurts rolled right and hit AJ Brown on a beautifully placed ball about 25 yards downfield in an 11-on-11 period. It seems the two best friends are getting on the same page early on.

4. The best defensive play of the day came during the 11-on-11, when Avonte Maddox made a leaping interception on an underthrown pass from Hurts attempted to Dallas Goedert. The throw wasn’t great, but don’t take anything away from the game on defense.

“I know he’s only 5-9, but he jumped like he was 6-5,” Goedert said of his good friend Maddox. “He got up there. It was a great play by him. He kind of baited the quarterback, took a couple of steps up. I think he guessed I was going to run a corner and he made a good play on the ball.

Another nice play from a DB came from James Bradberry, who broke up a pass intended for Jalen Reagor.

5. A few offensive depth chart notes:

• Isaac Seumalo is clearly the Eagles’ right guard. The first two days he has taken the first reps at right guard, and then Sua Opeta rotates in. If this was a contest, I’d think we’d see Jack Driscoll get those chances. Driscoll works as the second team right tackle.

• Miles Sanders worked exclusively with the second team on Friday, while Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell shared reps with the starters. Don’t make too much of this yet, but it’s something to monitor.

6. Defensive depth chart notes:

• The Eagles continue to mix odd and even fronts. Without Cox, the Eagles’ 3-4 look had second-year DT Marlon Tuipulotu at nose tackle, surrounded by Milton Williams and Javon Hargrave as tight ends, while Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat were the top outside linebackers. Both have also been featured as standup rushers in a 4-3 formation.

• The top two linebackers on Friday were TJ Edwards and Kyzir White. White made his first big play of training camp when he exploded into the backfield to pick up a “sack” against Hurts. Davion Taylor has mixed in with the first team, while Nakobe Dean has worked with the second team.

• Anthony Harris returned to team practice on Friday and was the starting safety next to Marcus Epps. However, Harris did not take all the first-team reps, rotating with K’Von Wallace. Jaquiski Tartt and Andre Chachere were the second team safeties. Chachere jumped a Gardner Minshew pass attempted to Noah Togiai for the first pick of the summer.

7. Keep an eye on cornerback Mac McCain III. The Eagles know their top cornerbacks are Darius Slay, Bradberry and Avonte Maddox, but they have nine young corners vying for just a few spots. Zech McPhearson is the next guy and he has been working with the second team. But I was a little surprised to see McCain join him as the other second-team outside cornerback. (Josiah Scott is the second-team nickel).

McCain has made some plays early in this camp. McCain had a PBU on Friday that resulted in a Davion Taylor interception, and he had another tough one against Quez Watkins later in practice. McCain has a chance to win a job.

8. Speaking of Taylor, he’s off to a solid start. Taylor had three notable plays on Friday. One was the INT off Minshew after the McCain deflection. He had another play where he hit Boston Scott at the perfect time to clear the ball for a PBU. And an underrated one came when he chased down Hurts at a perfect angle after the quarterback broke free from the pocket. Taylor has been a forgotten guy in this defense, but he could deserve a role and some playing time.

9. Reid Sinnett and Carson Strong share the third-team reps at QB, which has been frustrating for me because I want to see Strong. Finally got a chance to watch him air a pass during the 7-on-7 development period after the main practice ended. He didn’t hit Britain Covey down the left sideline, but it was a bomb. No doubt about his arm strength.

10. A few special guests were at training camp on Friday. Several coaches from the University of Maryland staff were in attendance. That included Gunter Brewer, who served as the Eagles’ receivers coach for the 2018 season. He was between Mike Groh and Carson Walch.

Another guest was longtime NFL defensive backs coach and former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio. Fangio (63) had been the head coach of the Broncos from 2019-21 and does not have a job right now. The Dunmore, Pennsylvania native has been a DC for the Panthers, Colts, Texans, 49ers and Bears.

Today’s silly observation: If you’ve seen the goofy equipment on helmets during training camp, they’re called Guardian Caps. The NFL has made them mandatory for all linebackers, linebackers and tight ends during training camp.

Kelce had fun with it on Friday, wearing bubble wrap over the Guardian Cap for the entire 1:15 practice. He joked that it might give him another 2 or 3% protection.

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