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July 26, 2023

Eagles 2023 training camp practice notes, Day 1: Football is back!

The Eagles began their training camp on Wednesday. Here are Jimmy Kempski's observations from Day 1.

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072623 Eagles Practice Nick Sirianni Colleen Claggett/for PhillyVoice

Head Coach Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with players during practice at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia, Pa. on July 26, 2023.

It was the first day of school back at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday, as the Philadelphia Eagles had their first practice of training camp. There are no pads this early in camp, but it was a fun practice with a lot of red zone action. Let's get right to the notes.

• In the Super Bowl the Eagles had every starter available to play, which is remarkable. Some noteworthy players had offseason surgeries, like Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox, but the team enters camp very healthy even with a shortened offseason.

Here was the official injury report on the first day of practice:

Did not practice

  1. Haason Reddick: Groin soreness

Limited practice

  1. Derek Barnett: Knee
  2. Avonte Maddox: Toe

That's it. Good start on the injury front.

• The first practice of the summer is also the first look at the initial depth chart at some positions. The offensive line depth looked like so:

 Jordan MailataLandon Dickerson Jason Kelce Cam Jurgens Lane Johnson 
 Roderick JohnsonSua Opeta Brett Toth Tyler Steen Jack Driscoll 
 Dennis KellyJulian Good-Jones Cameron Tom Tyrese Robinson Fred Johnson 

I would imagine Dennis Kelly will soon be the second-team LT.

The safeties:

  1. Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds
  2. Justin Evans and K'Von Wallace
  3. Sydney Brown and Tristin McCollum

Of course, Brown was a high third-round pick this offseason, and he'll have a chance to climb the ladder and compete for a starting job, but it's normal for a rookie to start off on the third-team defense.

The other noteworthy depth chart observations:

  1. Nakobe Dean is the team's top linebacker. Otherwise, Nicholas Morrow and Christian Elliss both got first-team reps. The second starting linebacker spot is officially a camp battle.
  2. Zech McPhearson was ahead of Josiah Scott in the slot.
  3. Rookie quarterback Tanner McKee and Ian Book both got third-team reps, but McKee was up first.

• Early camp practices are typically sloppy, and Day 1 certainly had its sloppy moments. There was a stretch late in practice when there were three straight plays in which someone committed a pre-snap penalty.

Tyler Steen had a false start and got chewed out by Nick Sirianni. On the next play, a DT (I didn't catch who) jumped offsides and the offensive line got chewed out again by Sirianni for not touching the defender to get a cheap neutral zone infraction. And then on the third play, a defender (Bo Wulf said it was Janarius Robinson) jumped offsides.

Sirianni then scolded everyone on the field, pointing out that pre-snap penalties are a good way to lose to bad teams.

• The top four running backs all had their moments.

  1. D'Andre Swift was up and down. He had a pass intended for him ripped out of his hands by Tristin McCollum. The ball popped up in the air and was picked off by Davion Taylor. Still, Swift was active in the passing game otherwise and it's not hard to see that he can be a weapon in the screen game.
  2. Rashaad Penny got some goal line carries, and while there is only so much you can tell from a physicality perspective when the pads aren't on, you could still see some explosiveness there.
  3. Kenny Gainwell had a carry off-tackle to the left side, and he made a nice spin move to the outside, eluding a tackler (or two-hand toucher or whatever).
  4. One of the plays of the day was Boston Scott juking undrafted rookie cornerback Eli Ricks out of his jock in open space.

The Eagles are going to be a running back by committee team in 2023, but it's a very intriguing committee of guys with diverse skill sets.

Dallas Goedert made a bunch of catches all over the field, including a few that resulted in touchdowns. That's probably to be expected by now. Goedert did lose a couple of contested catch battles with James Bradberry, who broke up two passes that went Goedert's way. 

The other standout tight end was... Tyree Jackson. His highlight of the day was on a throw by Marcus Mariota to the back of the end zone. Jackson went up high for it, and toe tapped for the TD. When you have a 6'7 dude in the back of the end zone, an accurate high pass is pretty hard to stop. He also made a catch in some traffic, and moved well after the catch.

Jackson was an "out of nowhere camp standout" in 2021, before a back injury late in camp kind of ruined his season. In 2022 he missed camp while still recovering from a torn ACL. This camp might be his last chance to stand out like he did in 2021, and he's off to a good start.

• The MVP of media-attended OTAs was LB Christian Elliss, who intercepted Jalen Hurts and Marcus Mariota during the spring. As we noted above, Elliss got some first-team reps to start training camp, and he picked off Mariota in the end zone. We published a film review of Elliss earlier this offseason. I thought he looked good in the regular defense last season, albeit in limited action. He could very well start this season.

• Speaking of Mariota, his throwing motion is wonky. He looks like he's shot putting it at times. I wonder if his career might've looked a little different if he had been drafted by a team with a stud quarterback coach who really tried to fix some of his mechanics.

• We mentioned above that Tanner McKee was kinda/sorta ahead of Ian Book with the third-team. McKee threw a couple of ugly wobblers during practice. They weren't off-taget, to be clear. They just weren't spirals, or really anything close to a spiral. He could just be getting adjusted to a different ball. McKee did have one great throw to Jadon Haselwood, who was running along the back of the end zone. McKee fired the ball purposely behind Haselwood, away from a defender, and to a spot where Haselwood could adjust but the defender (with his back turned) could not. That ball was a tight spiral, and perfectly placed.

• Incumbent punter Arryn Siposs and challenger Ty Zentner had a punt-off. I was in a conversation with someone when they were letting it rip, so I didn't break out the stopwatch for hangtime, but I thought Siposs had the better day, much like he did during OTAs.

• The Eagles have off on Thursday. They'll be back out there (or maybe inside in the bubble?) on Friday, when temps will approach 100 degrees.

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