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June 05, 2024

Eagles minicamp practice notes: The defensive backs are off to a good start

Darius Slay in entrenched at one outside cornerback spot. The battle for the other continues on with strong practice performances from Kelee Ringo, Isaiah Rodgers and Quinyon Mitchell.

Eagles NFL
122623KeleeRingo Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Eagles CB Kelee Ringo

The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off a mandatory three-day minicamp on Tuesday, and it was open to the media. As always, we have practices notes.

• The only absent player was LG Landon Dickerson, who Nick Sirianni said was excused during a pre-practice media session. With Dickerson out, Mekhi Becton filled in at LG. Becton filled in at RT for an absent Lane Johnson during OTAs. He appears to be the "sixth man" along the offensive line, for now.

James Bradberry was in attendance after skipping OTAs in May. Sirianni mentioned before practice that Bradberry would get some work with the safeties. However, during individual drills, before practice really even got underway, Bradberry made his way to the medical tent with a trainer. He was in there for a minute or so, before heading back out onto the field, without a helmet. He was a spectator the rest of practice. 

One might think Bradberry is merely "holding in," with the team very likely trying to trade him, however, some of the other beat writers said after practice that they saw Bradberry fall during drills (I missed that), so his quick trip to the medical may not have been all for show. 


• Several of the cornerbacks who did participate made some nice plays.

  1. Kelee Ringo ran stride-for-stride down the sideline with Parris Campbell and made a leaping pass breakup. That earned praised from veteran safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Later, on the same side of the field, Ringo ran step-for-step with speedster John Ross. He was able to cut off Ross' route, leading to an overthrow. Ringo ran a 4.36 at the 2023 Combine. He has the speed to run vertically with the league's fastest receivers.
  2. During OTAs, Isaiah Rodgers made an excellent play on a short throw to A.J. Brown that he picked off and returned for a score. On Tuesday, he bolted in front of an out route run by Joseph Ngata, and almost had himself another pick-six. He was able to get a hand on the ball and knock it down. In my small sample size watching Rodgers this spring, he has been on the prowl for big plays.
  3. Quinyon Mitchell mixed in with the 1's in a dime look, and did a nice job covering Dallas Goedert. I didn't get a great look at the pre-snap formation to definitively say what position Mitchell was playing on the play, but he showed the ability to cover a bigger player.
Darius Slay is going to start at one outside corner spot this season. The CB2 spot could be a fun battle between Ringo, Rodgers, and Mitchell this summer.

• I thought the safeties and linebackers did a nice job in coverage as well. 

  1. Reed Blankenship broke up a Jalen Hurts pass for Brown, causing the ball to pop up into the air, where it was picked by Devin White
  2. Zack Baun stayed in Saquon Barkley's hip pocket all the way down the field on a wheel route. The ball went elsewhere.
  3. White can move. I watched him for a bit today, and he is the fastest linebacker the Eagles have had in quite some time.

• Baun and White got first-team reps. Nakobe Dean was with the 2's along with Oren Burks. That's a really interesting development. If Baun remains the starter throughout camp and into the regular season, that would be a clear indication that this truly is Vic Fangio's defense, and not at all Howie Roseman's.

• I thought the sharpest quarterback on the day was Tanner McKee, who hit C.J. Uzomah on a deep over route in stride, as well as a timing throw on a slant to Britain Covey that came out quick. Jalen Hurts was OK. He targeted A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith a lot, as always. Mostly short stuff. Kenny Pickett missed some throws in the intermediate and deeper parts of the field.

• Rookie WR Ainias Smith had a tough day. He wasn't ready for a pass in the middle of the field. I don't know if it hit him in the shoulder or the face mask, but it gave him a good smack. He later also had a muffed punt.

Braden Mann got a lot of work in. Did I time his punts for hangtime, even though he's running unopposed this year? You bet your ass I did. First, his "open field" punting session:

Punt Hangtime Distance Returner 
 1 4.70 46 Britain Covey, muff 
 2 4.76 56  Ainias Smith, muff 
 3 4.76 55  Isaiah Rodgers
 4 5.06 51  CJGJ
 5 4.91 48  Cooper DeJean
 6 4.90 55  Covey
 7 4.33 (specialty punt, nose down) 50  Smith

That was a really good session. Mann also had a "pin deep" session:

Punt Hangtime Landing spot Notes 
 1 4.71 End zoneBad punt 
 2 4.56 10 Fair catch 
 3 4.39 5 This ended up being a touchback, through no fault of Mann's. The gunner could've caught the ball in the air, but he stood at the 1, let it bounce, and then missed as it bounced past him.
 4 4.21 1Landed at the 1, checked up back to the 2. Great punt. 
 5 4.43 2Touchback 
 6 4.56 9Fair catch 
 7 4.51 Would've landed in the end zone......but Josh Jobe leaped and batted it back into play. Outstanding play by Jobe. 
 8 4.45 End zoneQuinyon Mitchell had a chance to make the same play that Jobe did but his feet were in the end zone pre-jump. 

After Mitchell had his feet in the end zone before jumping to try to save the ball from landing in the end zone, Sirianni tore into him a little bit, ending his tirade by yelling "PISS POOR!"

• Minicamp practice No. 2 will be Wednesday afternoon.

MORE: Jalen Hurts watch at minicamp

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