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May 25, 2021

Eagles OTA practice notes: Individual drills edition

Eagles NFL
071417_Novacare_TC Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

The Eagles' NovaCare Complex in South Philly.

The Philadelphia Eagles had a full-team practice on Tuesday, the first of its kind this season that the media was able to watch, if only briefly, before they kicked us out for the fun stuff. Still, there were observations to be made during the individual drills portion of the day.

• First, the attendance. Zach Ertz, as expected, was not present for practice, and likely won't be as a player for the Eagles ever again. Neither were Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, or Darius Slay.

Eagles players worked out an agreement with the coaching staff that a June minicamp would be canceled, and the players would instead attend non-intense OTA practice sessions, however, those practices remain voluntary.

Graham and Cox have earned immunity from any second-guessing about their absences from OTA practices, and we all know Ertz's story by now. Slay isn't obligated to offer any explanations of why he wasn't there, but I'm curious if one will be offered. 

Overall, there was a good turnout.

• The Eagles wore shirtseys (or shirseys if you prefer) at a practice for the first time that I can ever remember. They're more comfortable that regular jerseys, I imagine. No idea if use of the shirseys were negotiated, but I'll bet these babies would sell like crazy if the team made them available.

• The best starting roster battle upcoming in Eagles training camp will be Jordan Mailata vs. Andre Dillard, assuming neither player is traded this summer. When the Eagles have to allow media to watch practice in full, my expectation is that Mailata will open as the first team LT, though the team could allow Mailata and Dillard to split reps with the first teamers.

Brandon Brooks practiced. His most recent Achilles tear occurred in June of last year (11 months ago), so it's no surprise that he was out there, but it's a development worth noting.

• As we mentioned already, the team only ran individual drills (no team), so there were no 7-on-7's no 11-on-11's, no offense vs. defense in any way. In other words, we only saw players practicing against ghosts. With that disclaimer on place, I liked the way rookie RB Kenny Gainwell ran routes and caught the football. His movements are smooth, with little wasted motion, and he plucked the ball out of the air with his hands. This isn't the best of example from the day, but you can kind of get the idea here: 

DeVonta Smith caught a lot of passes. I didn't see him drop any. Again, that was vs. ghosts, but this feels like an opportunity to note this crazy stat from PFF: 

• Jalen Reagor said post-practice that he'll play in the slot this year. He subsequently clarified that he'll play everywhere, and that the receivers will be interchangeable at all positions, whereas he mainly played just on the outside last season. Reagor's fit in the slot is interesting. In college he was a very good YAC receiver, and the Eagles would be smart to find easy ways to get the ball in his hands and let him create after the catch.

That said, the idea that every receiver can be interchangeable is a little far-fetched. For example, is Greg Ward going to play on the outside, with some other receiver in the slot? 

• The Eagles made a signing just before the start of practice. They added DT Willie Henry, and waived LB Joe Bachie. The Ravens selected Henry in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. He has bounced around a bit, playing in Baltimore for three years, before also landing with the 49ers and Texans. 18 games, 3 starts, 4.5 sacks.

• Second-year RB Adrian Killins was working out with the wide receivers. He did that last year, too.

• One of the fun players to evaluate this summer will be quarterback-turned-tight end Tyree Jackson, who is a monster, size-wise. He's No. 80 below, walking with fellow TE Jack Stoll.


I watched Jackson in passing drills, and, well, to put it kindly he needs work, but his size and athleticism is worth trying to mold. Here's his spider chart, compared to other tight ends. His top size-athleticism comp, interestingly, is Washington's quarterback-turned-tight end, Logan Thomas, who had 72 catches last season.

Ryan Kerrigan will now wear No. 90, which had belonged briefly to rookie DT Marlon Tuipulotu. Kerrigan was 91 in Washington, but that number is obviously unavailable, since it is worn by Fletcher Cox. Tuipulotu is now wearing No. 72, which he will share with undrafted rookie offensive lineman Kayode Awosika. What a bad turn of events for him.

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