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June 14, 2017

Eagles minicamp practice notes, June 14, 2017

Eagles NFL

On Wednesday, the Philadelphia Eagles held what will likely be their last noteworthy practice of the spring, as the final day of spring minicamp (Thursday) is typically little more than a walk-through. Therefore, these may be the last practice notes you read here until the end of July, so savor them, friends.

• This was easily Carson Wentz's best day of the spring. He hit a few deep balls, with his highlight of the day being a "drop in the bucket" throw about 45-50 yards down the field to Nelson Agholor. He was also generally very accurate, with maybe two exceptions on the day, most notably an overthrown deep ball that was picked by Rodney McLeod. (I would would not consider that a "sailed" throw that has plagued him to some degree). 

This was the kind of day Wentz can feel really good about heading into the dead period of the offseason.

• One interesting drill the Eagles' quarterbacks worked on today was handling bad shotgun snaps and quickly getting rid of the football. Quarterback coach John DeFilippo would toss the ball high, to the right, to the left, or it the dirt to the QBs, who would then have to locate the receiver quickly, and fire. Jason Kelce had an abnormally high number of off-target snaps last season, so this drill makes sense for the Eagles.

• Speaking of which, Isaac Seumalo got some first-team reps at center today, though I wouldn't make too much of that. I think the Eagles are just preparing themselves for any scenario that may crop up.

Zach Ertz had a very good day as well. He caught passes all over the field, including two impressive grabs in traffic. Ertz has his deficiencies, but he runs great routes and has the best hands on the team. A season ago, I had Ertz down for just two drops verses 78 catches, for a drop rate of 2.5 percent, which is excellent.

• I like the way Torrey Smith runs comeback routes. Today, he sprinted up the field like he was going deep and really sold it. Standing on the sideline about 15 yards away, I was convinced it was a go route, but Smith jammed on the breaks and cut back to the QB for an easy pitch and catch on a 15-yard comeback. Quarterbacks need the occasional gimme throw, and corners having to respect Smith's deep speed will afford those opportunities.

Smith does a lot of talking during practice too. During one 11-on-11 session, Rasul Douglas was crowding Smith at the line of scrimmage, and Smith playfully shoved Douglas' head, pre-snap.

• Another day of practice, another round of dropped passes for Shelton Gibson.

• There was a little dust-up today between Steven Means and Anthony Denham. HBO is certain to buy the rights to that one for $100 million.

• One player who has gotten a surprisingly high number of snaps has been DT Gabe Wright. That's due in part to injuries at DT, but if that continues into training camp, he's a player worth monitoring.

• On a QB scramble, Wentz juked the crap out of Mychal Kendricks. Go ahead and take a second to picture the play in your mind. Yup, you nailed it.

• After missing all of OTAs, Marcus Smith is the last DE on the depth chart. He's No. 7 of 7, in terms of playing time. That's no mistake. He's even behind second year player Alex McCalister, who got chewed out hard by DL coach Chris Wilson for repeatedly lining up offsides.

• The only new absence today was Dorial Green-Beckham. As of this writing, his injury is unknown, but obviously, if he's not healthy the Eagles shouldn't even bother suiting up on game day.

Caleb Sturgis was a perfect 10 for 10 today on his field goal attempts. They were from distances of 33, 38, 43, 45, 48, 45, 43, 49, and 33. 

A season ago, Sturgis was perfect from inside of 40, going for 22/22, although he did miss one PAT (27/28). On the season as a whole, Sturgis was 33/38, or 86.8 percent, which was good for 10th in the NFL. Perhaps what is most encouraging about Sturgis is that he has improved every year:

Caleb Sturgis FG percentage 
2013 76.5% 
2014 78.4% 
2015 81.8% 
2016 86.8% 

He also did a great job on kickoffs, lofting kicks with good hang time, allowing the Eagles' coverage units to get down the field to almost always make tackles shy of the touchback mark at the 25-yard line. In fact, opposing teams averaged 19.1 yards per kick return, which was second-lowest in the NFL.

Sturgis has no competition this year, a luxury he has earned.

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