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July 27, 2017

Eagles 2017 training camp practice notes, Day 4

Eagles NFL

The Philadelphia Eagles' full team roster was practicing for the first time this summer in training camp on Thursday after three days of just rookies, quarterbacks, and select vets.

While the team practiced, it was more of an install day, meaning that there was not a lot of competition. The defense was essentially just on the field to help the offense work on some basics during the offensive phase of drill, and vice versa during the defensive phase. Still, even during the install days, there are sporadic moments of competition.

Friday will be the "real" start to camp, but here's what we saw today:

Jordan Matthews was a full participant in practice after a week of questions about the status of his knee. Matthews made a nice play in which he leaped for a 50-50 ball deep down the field, coming down with the reception. Matthews did not look gimpy at all on the play.

Alshon Jeffery also won on an impressive 50-50 ball reception down the sideline in which he was also able to keep his feet in bounds. It was a classic fade pattern that Jeffery has been so good at over his career. Jeffery will give Carson Wentz that element to work with this season, which is something Wentz did not have as a rookie.

Jordan Hicks practiced as well, even getting some work in team drills, though he was limited. We'll have more on Hicks later.

LeGarrette Blount is a 250-pound man, but he is much lighter on his feet than most perceive. Running plays aren't great to evaluate when players are in shorts, but Blount showed some nice burst getting through the hole.

• One player I have never seen practice in team drills before this spring is Kamu Grugier-Hill, who the team added after 53-man cutdowns last season. Kamu stripped Zach Ertz for a forced fumble today.

Terrence Brooks was a player who looked good during OTAs. On the final play of practice, he broke up a pass intended for TE Anthony Denham. Brooks is a big, physical, jacked-up safety.

• Before the start of practice, I was Periscoping some of the receivers catching balls from the JUGS machine, and answering a few questions from the fans. Out of nowhere, Doug Pederson sidled up and just started BS'ing with me and the Inquirer's Jeff McLane, who had also stopped by. 

Doug shows up at the 12:40-ish mark:

Doug gets goofed on a bit for his sometimes awkward demeanor during press conferences, but you can tell that he's more in his element out on the practice field.

• And now, what you've all been waiting for...


It's already over. Undrafted free agent punter Cameron Johnston is essentially showing off what he might do for another team, because there's no way he's beating out Donnie Jones.

To begin, Jones signed a contract extension late in the season last year. Even if he got outplayed during camp, the Eagles would have to eat $875,000 in dead money to cut him. That's not going to happen.

Still, for the first (and last) time this summer, I timed seven punts both from Jones and Johnston for hang time. Here's what I got:

 Eagles puntersDonnie Jones Cameron Johnston 
 14.81 4.61 
 24.91 3.84 
 35.04 4.65 
 45.24 4.70 
 55.01 3.93 
 64.71 4.70 
 74.95 4.70 
 Average4.95 4.45 


Later in practice, Jones walked over and asked if I was timing his punts. I confirmed that I was, so he took a look at his numbers in my notes. I then asked him about some speculation that he was going to retire soon. Nope. He said he plans to play for another four years if he can, and cited a handful of other kickers and punters still in the NFL at the age of 40.

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