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May 31, 2024

Eagles OTA practice notes: Interceptions galore

The Eagles secondary had four interceptions Thursday.

Eagles NFL
053124JalenHurts Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

It was a tough day at OTAs for Eagles quarterbacks.

The Philadelphia Eagles had a full-team practice on Thursday, the final one of OTAs, and it was open to the media. As always, we have practices notes.

• As a reminder, OTAs are voluntary. Players not in attendance:

  1. CB James Bradberry
  2. S C.J. Gardner-Johnson
  3. RT Lane Johnson
  4. CB Darius Slay
  5. WR DeVonta Smith
  6. EDGE Josh Sweat

Bradberry, Johnson, Smith, and Sweat skipped the media-attended OTA practice last week, too.

Jake Elliott, Kelee Ringo, and C.J. Uzomah did not attend the media-attended practice last week, but were there on Thursday.

• Last week there were no 11-on-11's. This week there were. The first- and second-team offenses:

 QBJalen Hurts Kenny Pickett 
 RB Saquon Barkley / Kenny GainwellTyrion Davis-Price / Will Shipley 
 WR A.J. BrownJohnny Wilson 
 WRParris Campbell  John Ross
 WR Joseph Ngata Britain Covey
 TE Dallas GoedertC.J. Uzomah 
 LT Jordan MailataFred Johnson 
 LG Landon Dickerson Darian Kinnard
 C Cam JurgensBrett Toth 
 RG Tyler SteenMatt Hennessy 
 RT Mekhi Becton Gottleib Ayedze

And the first- and second-team defense

 EDGEBrandon Graham Terrell Lewis 
 DT Jalen Carter Marlon Tuipulotu
 DT Jordan Davis Milton Williams
 EDGE Bryce Huff Julian Okwara
 LB Zack Baun / Nakobe Dean Oren Burks
 LB Devin White Ben VanSumeren
 CBIsaiah Rodgers  Quinyon Mitchell
 S Reed Blankenship Tristin McCollum
 S Avonte Maddox Mekhi Garner
 CB Kelee Ringo Eli Ricks
 SLOT CB Tyler Hall Cooper DeJean

Some depth chart notes:

Zack Baun, Devin White, and Nakobe Dean all got reps with the 1's, but Baun and White were up first. Dean did not participate in 7-on-7's last week, so the team could just be easing him in.

• With Sydney Brown still recovering from a torn ACL suffered Week 18 against the Giants and C.J. Gardner-Johnson not in attendance, Avonte Maddox got first-team reps at safety. He played some there last week as well. There are a slew of recognizable names available on the open market, but maybe the team views Maddox as the fourth safety? That would make sense, given the team's depth at cornerback.

Mekhi Becton got the first shot to "start" at RT with Lane Johnson not in attendance.

Matt Hennessy was the second-team RG. His primary position is probably center, but he has also started at guard in the NFL. It's noteworthy — but not surprising — that the team has him as the second-team RG, which indicates that he is Tyler Steen's primary competition for the starting RG job.

• The team tried to give Brett Toth the opportunity to expand his versatility by playing him at center last year in training camp, but they had to move him because he couldn't execute shotgun snaps and was messing up reps for the other players on offense. It looks like he's getting another chance at center this year.

• Versatile rookie defensive back Cooper DeJean was at cornerback again. Before the start of OTAs I had noted that although DeJean has the ability to play safety and could move there if necessary, the team drafted him because they like what he is as a cornerback. I got some oddly strong blowback on that on Twitter for some reason. Anyway, I'm sure I'd have heard from y'all if he were playing safety, but, you know, crickets. 🦗 😂

Practice notes

• The defense notched four interceptions on the day:

  1. Isaiah Rodgers stepped in front of a short Jalen Hurts pass to A.J. Brown and took it to the house. Rodgers looked, as scouts might say, "twitchy" on the play.
  2. Zack Baun also picked off Hurts on yet another target for Brown. Someone deflected the pass (it was either Baun or Devin White), which then bounced off of Brown and into the air where Baun corralled it. 
  3. Mekhi Garner picked off a deep ball by Kenny Pickett that was way underthrown to John Ross.
  4. Shon Stephens picked off Tanner McKee on a pass intended for Britain Covey to end practice. 

Kelee Ringo nearly came up with an interception as well. He had good coverage on a deep ball, running step-for-step down the sideline with Parris Campbell, and put himself in a great position to make a pick, but couldn't finish. 

Pickett also had a bad throw in the flat to a wide open Albert Okwuegbunam. He sailed it way over Albert O's head.

The offense and defense both have new coordinators, but the defense is probably in a better position to ramp up quicker since the Eagles ran versions of Vic Fangio's defense the last three years. whereas Kellen Moore's offense is new. Still, it was a bad day for the offense and the quarterbacks.

A.J. Brown was wearing a towel that read "Unguardable." He certainly was during parts of the 2023 season.

• It was fun watching John Ross run routes. He can still run very fast. On the aforementioned deep ball that Pickett underthrew, it may have been because Ross got down the field so quickly. He was open. Ross also made a nice catch over the middle on a ball behind him from Pickett.

Ross was a tryout player during rookie camp who the team signed to a contract a week ago after DeVante Parker retired. Normally, a guy participating in a tryout during rookie camp is a longshot to make the roster, but with how thin the Eagles are at wide receiver he has a chance if he can make plays throughout the summer. For what it's worth, Ross said that he thinks he’s faster (“more consistent with his speed”) than he was when he was a rookie (when he ran a 4.22 at the Combine).

Ross could contend with another veteran speedster bust in Campbell (who ran a 4.31).

• I watched rookie WR Johnny Wilson run some routes. He moves pretty fluidly for a 6'6, 231-pound receiver. He did have a drop, though, which was an issue for him at Florida State.

• Third-year DT Jordan Davis spoke after practice. He said that he is in better shape than he was last year, crediting his diet, “cutting out the juice and s***.” For the record, he said he cut out AriZona juice.

Davis said that he currently weighs around 350 pounds, and added that he weighed more last year but didn’t specify how much. If he was substantially heavier than 350 pounds last year, it's probably safe to say that he was out of shape. On the one hand, it's good than he's in better shape. On the other hand, why wasn't he in better shape last year?

• Last year we got to watch a punting competition between Arryn Siposs and Ty Zentner. Siposs easily won that battle, but then struggled as usual in the real games. The Eagles then signed Braden Mann, who went on to have a good season, earning a new contract. There will be no punting competitions this year, but I timed punts for hangtime anyway.

  1. 4.11
  2. 4.39
  3. 4.53
  4. 4.58
  5. 4.08
  6. 4.45

Hangtime... meh. He did have good distance, though.

The punt returners: Britain Covey, Isaiah Rodgers, Cooper DeJean, and Ainias Smith.

Smith tripped and fell while retreating for a long Mann punt. As we noted in a recent mailbag, players who were good returners in college aren't always good returners in the pros, and it feels silly to me to think that Covey won't make the roster because the team added some players with return ability.

• Newness: The Eagles now have a huge monitor on the field that they can consult after plays to make corrections.

Good idea.

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