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August 25, 2020

Eagles practice notes, Day 8: Random thoughts on a boring day

Day 8 of Philadelphia Eagles training camp is in the books. It was a short, hot, very humid, non-padded practice without much in the way of action. And so, the following is mostly a collection of random thoughts, or leftover notes.

• There was a whole lot of special teams work today, but one thing that stood out was rookie undrafted TE Noah Togiai's inclusion on the first-team punt cover team, as well as the first-team kick return team, two spots previously occupied by Josh Perkins, who is out indefinitely with an upper body injury. That's a strong indication that Togiai is ahead of Caleb Wilson for the third TE job.

"I think Noah at tight end has done an outstanding job," Doug Pederson said on Sunday. "He's a smart kid. Picked up the offense extremely well. He's learning the ins and outs of technique and just maybe how big and fast a defensive end like BG might be or Vinny Curry, guys like that, Josh Sweat, that he's going against, so he's doing a really nice job there."

At this point, I would say that Togiai has a better than 50-50 chance of making the roster. He's probably competing against other tight ends around the league, and since the Eagles won't have the opportunity to watch other teams' guys in preseason games, perhaps they'll just stick with the rookie. There's been a ton of talk about how undrafted free agents are screwed this year as a result of no preseason games, but maybe this is an occasion in which one is helped by the oddball circumstances.

Obviously, No. 3 tight ends aren't huge contributors, but they have gotten playing time for the Eagles in the Pederson era:

 YearNo. 3 TE Snaps Snap % 
 2019Josh Perkins 132 11.1% 
 2018Josh Perkins 95 8.7% 
 2017Trey Burton 300 26.5% 
 2016Trey Burton 331 29.2% 

As a fifth-year senior in 2019 at Oregon State, Togiai had 44 catches for 406 yards and 3 TDs. A look:

In camp, Togiai has done a nice job catching the ball. A few different scouting reports noted that he wasn't a very good blocker in college. I haven't seen anything obviously good or bad in that area in camp. Unfortunately, we haven't yet seen RB/TE vs. LB/S 1-on-1's yet.

It'll be interesting to see if the Eagles like what Togiai has shown enough to just keep him as the TE3, or if they'll bring in a legitimate outside veteran (and not just a camp body).

• In other punt team news, the first-team gunners are Craig James and Rudy Ford. I don't think Ford will make the final roster, but James has a way better argument to make the team than Sidney Jones does, who oh by the way, didn't practice yet again, in what was essentially a small step up from a walk-through.

• So what to do with Jones? At this point, if you can get a late Day 3 draft pick for him... 👋. If it's a player, I think it would have to be a guy you're pretty sure will be on your roster all season.

Final cutdowns will be interesting from a, "How much pull does Jim Schwartz have" perspective. Schwartz clearly has no use for Jones, and maybe even Genard Avery as well. Neither player rightfully deserves a a spot on the 53-man roster, but will Howie Roseman be willing to pull the plug on a couple of guys who were front office misses?

• One thing to note on the offensive line is that Nate Herbig has been the sixth offensive lineman when the Eagles have been in a jumbo set. I wouldn't call Herbig a stone-cold a lock to make the roster, but the fact that the Eagles have had him in on those sets over a number of other options is telling. 

• A list of five guys I haven't noticed really at all in the first eight practices:

  1. RB Michael Warren: Warren is at a disadvantage because he is a bowling ball type who is an inside runner, and can break tackles. Those guys stand out in preseason games, not thud practices. Still, Warren hasn't stood out in any way.
  2. OG Sua Opeta: It's hard for offensive linemen to stand out, but Opeta hasn't yet. By comparison, he did do some noteworthy things a year ago. To be fair, he also hasn't stood out in a negative way, which I guess isn't the worst thing for an offensive lineman.
  3. DE Shareef Miller: In a camp that has been dominated by the D-line, Miller and Avery haven't got in on the sack parade. There's almost no way Miller can make the 53-man roster at this point, I don't think.
  4. LB Dante Olson: Olson has been an undrafted favorite of some fans, but I can't recall any time in which I've seen him make a tackle, pass breakup, etc.
  5. S Marcus Epps: Epps was perhaps something of an afterthought heading into camp, but he did appear in actual games last season, and even played a fair amount in the playoffs. He's missed a few practices with an injury, but even when healthy, he hasn't made any plays. 

• To hear some audio recaps of each practice, Brandon Gowton and I are recording daily podcasts. You can find those here:

Previous training camp notes