Now that the Philadelphia Eagles are halfway through their first 10 training camp practices, let’s assess the biggest winners and losers so far.
Wentz wasn’t anotherworldly spectacular or anything, but he was good. I’m not including it so much here for its performance, however. He’s in the winners section because it looks like he might actually have some large receivers to work with this year. Of course, it’s far too early to say that the young man will definitely make do. But they at least give a reason for hope.
Hurts is the No.3 quarterback for now, but it’s only a matter of time before he lands the No.2 job. He’s impressed with both throwing and running the ball. . Hurts should be the Eagles quarterback if Wentz is to miss an extended period.
Reagor made a strong impression during his very first practice. He has grabbed everything thrown at him and you can see the juice he runs with after the capture. Reagor lined up with the first team attack, so the plan is for him to be a Day 1 contributor. I’m still waiting for him to catch a deep touchdown, but it will come.
Jackson still had it despite his surgery and turning 34 this year. Sustainability is always a big concern for him, but he’s going to have a very productive season if he manages to stay healthy. Wentz loves going to # 10.
The Eagles’ fifth-round pick for 2020 erupted early in the week before turning into a great practice day on Thursday. Hightower demonstrated good hands (can’t recall any fall), clean run (beat Darius Slay and Rasul Douglas 1v1), ball follow (dove over the shoulder grip) and speed (deep touch. welcome). He won’t be part of the starting lineup, but he could be a valuable role player or replacement.
The bar was low for JJAW’s arrival at camp after such a disappointing rookie season. He doesn’t look amazing by any means, but he has made some great catches over the past two days after missing practice with an injury earlier in the week. The Eagles field JJAW as Team X’s first receiver. He’s on track to start for them against Washington in Week 1, although Rotating Reagor can / will cut his playing time.
On the one hand, it’s difficult for Watkins to be a big winner with Jackson, Reagor, JJAW, Hightower and Greg Ward arguably ahead of him. But the quick Watkins saw first-team representatives in Jackson’s place when the veteran rested. Watkins has also apparently gained some level of trust with Wentz, who has targeted him on several occasions. Watkins previously became a roster lock with Marquise Goodwin retiring, but it only cemented her status in the squad.
No one wants to hear “I told you”. You don’t want to be the one saying that. And yet here I am, telling you that I was right that there was no real competition for the starting corner in front of Darius Slay. Such a notion has always been ridiculous. Maddox was the only one to take representatives there. And he looked good too. He’s not perfect, no. There will obviously be times when his small size goes against him. But Maddox’s cover at camp was very sticky and he made a few plays on the ball. This is the best starting option at CB2.
It remains to be seen how Mills handles the transition from cornerback to safety when the real games begin, but he’s off to an encouraging start. I didn’t notice him involved in any blankets damaged or burnt by anyone. He made a big play earlier in the week with a six pick on Wentz. The green goblin is also taking on more of a leadership role; Mike Garafolo recently reported that he asked Doug Pederson if he could address the whole team. Mills is doing his best to try to fill the really big shoes left by Malcolm Jenkins.
WILL BE PARKS
I know everyone wants to see K’Von Wallace on the pitch and it could still happen to some extent as he has played a few games as well. But Parks will be the Eagles’ third safety. The Philly native flew and looked good in defense and special teams. He plays with that confidence and bluster that Jim Schwartz likes to see from his defensive backs. Parks could be a very good player for this team. He considers this to be a significant upgrade over previous third security options such as Corey Graham and Andrew Sendejo.
NRC appears to be locked down as the Eagles’ starting nickel corner. He made a number of plays on the ball, sometimes even at the back of the field while covering Jackson. NRC also took outside corner reps with the backups to prepare him for having to move there if / when Slay overshadows a top receiver in the slot.
Ridgeway looked good on the offensive line, on the defensive line and as a full team. The fifth-year defensive tackle has managed to consistently generate pressure from within. He will be the Eagles’ fourth defensive tackle behind Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Malik Jackson. Nice to have depth there, especially with Hargrave already banged up.
Bradley managed to stand out on most training days. The Temple elder wasn’t afraid to be physical, he has athleticism to cover, and his post coach praised him for taking on a leadership role when it was only recruits in the building. Bradley won’t be on the roster, but he shows promise as a replacement.
Ding him for beating lower competition if you have to, but the other guys don’t always do the same. Ostman has a legitimate case of being the fifth or sixth defensive end on the list. He might not succeed with the Eagles potentially leaning in a different direction. But Ostman is producing and the Eagles are working him again in that Joker role.
Arnold could be the undrafted rookie free agent with the best chance of making the 53. He garnered praise from Howie Roseman and Rodney McLeod even before camp started. He showed good physicality and positioning with the Eagles tackling the floor on Friday. The Eagles could afford to hang on to developmental security with Mills and Parks playing on one-year deals and McLeod, 30, only signed until 2021.
So, I don’t think Herbig really looks very good. I saw him get beaten 1 on 1 and he had a bad shot on Hurts’ head. But he’s doing this section because his place on the list seems to be relatively secure. The Eagles had him lined up for the team’s first right guard while Peters and Kelce were not both training. Herbig was also used as the sixth offensive lineman in heavy sets. The Eagles liked Herbig enough to hide him on their roster last year and I don’t think they’re ready to give him up. Keep in mind that he only turned 22 last month.
I can’t say JP was bad. But I don’t like the way he missed the first two days of practice and then went back and forth on Friday. I’m just wondering if he’s really getting all the reps he needs to move into the right custody effectively. Maybe I’m doing too much, but my conversation with Tra Thomas leads me to believe it’s right to worry. It’s also worth noting that the Eagles offensive line as a whole had two bad days in a row when Peters was in right guard. It’s unclear how much of this, if any, is his fault. Still, not great.
Sudfeld had his best day in training on Friday and he looks set to start the season as No.2. The Eagles are preparing him for the role. But he’s clearly less talented than Hurts, who outperformed him overall. As I wrote earlier, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before Hurts flies over Suds. It is a question of “when” and not of “if”.
I’m not yet ready to give up on Barnett but it’s been a huge year for him. And the big point he insisted on was how he was going to enter the season in good health after missing the whole camp with an injury last year. Now Barnett could be in the same predicament again this season as he misses the majority of practices with an ankle problem. One can only wonder if this injury will persist and hamper its effectiveness. It would be disappointing. The Eagles need Barnett to take a big leap in 4th grade.
Jeffery looks set to miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season while potentially starting in the reserve / PUP. Will there be a natural place for him in the attack when he’s ready to come back? It’s entirely possible. Injuries and / or difficulties with the young receivers could make the Eagles happy to welcome him back into the fold. But what if the offense really clicks without it? If the young players are playing well, why take away the clichés for a player who is unlikely to return next season? The Eagles might be slow to activate Jeffery if they don’t feel like they are needed.
In June, I asked BGN readers if they were buying or selling #SidneyJonesBreakoutSZN. The results:
Difficult to buy right now with Jones missing three consecutive days due to injury. Availability has obviously always been an issue with him.
Not to mention that Jones struggled when he was healthy earlier in the week. He was burned by Robert Davis at one point and gave up another great game to Josh Perkins. Not exactly familiar names there.
Even though Jones is healthy and bouncing back, he still won’t start in front of Slay. Maddox is the man for this job.
It wasn’t all bad for Douglas, but he had more losses than wins. He’s still very susceptible to a deep beat, as seen by Hightower following him on the first day of camp. Douglas’ lack of versatility also stands out when virtually every other corner is capable of playing indoors or outdoors. I really don’t think Douglas is a lock to make the 53. He could be swapped out or cut.
The Mailata experience may be coming to an end. He didn’t have a very good camp; there might not be enough progress to justify keeping him on the 53. On the one hand, the Eagles might not want to give up on the 23-year-old after investing in him for a few years. On the other hand, they have new development tackles that are more advanced in Jack Driscoll and Price Tega Wanogho.
I just didn’t see him doing anything at camp and made an effort to focus on him on Friday as he faced Mailata. As Ostman destroyed the Aussie sensation, Avery couldn’t jack up on him. Avery will be the fifth defensive end at best with Barnett, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry in the top four. And I think Ostman and even Shareef Miller showed more than Avery. This trade looks like a total waste of a fourth round pick.