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August 19, 2023

Eagles training camp game ball: James Bradberry primed for another All-Pro season

Continuing with PhillyVoice's 'game ball' training camp series, Dallas Goedert and James Bradberry had big days at Eagles practice on Saturday morning.

In our last weekend without meaningful football at the collegiate or pro level until February, the Eagles are keeping things going down at the NovaCare Complex. On a Saturday morning practice where a much-welcomed breeze blew through South Philly, two 2022 Eagles standouts continued to impress. These are repeat choices for my daily practice "game ball" feature, but, hey, they're big-name players deserving of props for a reason.

Here's more on what I saw from Dallas Goedert and James Bradberry...

Offensive game ball: TE Dallas Goedert 

Goedert would be putting up superstar numbers on about 30 other teams around the league. He just happens to play in an offense that features one of the league's elite wide receiver duos. It was Goedert, entering his sixth NFL season, who had the best performance of any pass-catcher during Saturday's practice though. 

In addition to his routine steady pickups on out routes in the short and intermediate games, Goedert also hauled in Hurts' best pass of the morning for a touchdown down the seam. Goedert has the size to be a force as a run-blocker, the nimble feet to be an excellent route-runner, and the physicality to be a great yards-after-the-catch threat. He can do it all.

In 2022, Goedert averaged 2.46 receiving yards per route run, the third-highest rate for a tight end behind only Travis Kelce (3.04) and George Kittle (2.97), per Rotowire. That's even a slightly better number than superstar receiver Ja'Marr Chase (2.44) to put it in perspective. 

The versatility of the Eagles' offense is unmatched in the NFC and Goedert is a key cog in that well-oiled machine. 

Defensive game ball: CB James Bradberry

Saturday was a bit of a quiet practice for A.J. Brown, who's been the Eagles' best overall player in camp this summer. That says less about Hurts and Brown himself and more about the dude who was frequently lining up across from Brown. With sticky coverage, Bradberry made it a difficult morning for the Birds' star wideout. 

Bradberry also had an interception on the day, reading struggling backup QB Marcus Mariota and stepping directly in front of the quarterback's target for an easy pick. Bradberry's had at least three picks in each of the last four seasons. I'd bet that trend continues in 2023. 

There's been a new wrinkle to Bradberry's practice reps, too: he's getting time inside at slot cornerback. That's a switch-up for the 2022 Second-Team All-Pro cornerback, but it's a wise move from defensive coordinator Sean Desai. When facing an opponent with a quality tight end, the Eagles should be putting their most physical corner on that TE to prevent mismatch nightmares for the Eagles' weak linebacker corps and inexperienced safety group. 

These are some of the tight ends that the Birds will face this season: Kelce, Kittle, T.J. Hockenson, Darren Waller (twice) and first-round rookie Dalton Kincaid. In the case of Kelce, Kittle and Waller, those dudes are the best pass-catchers on their respective teams. Why not throw a premier corner on players of that caliber? It's a simple solution. The Eagles frankly should've done that in Super Bowl LVII, as Kelce totaled six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. These tight ends are household names for a reason, but anything that can slow them down is a plus, especially in contrast to someone like Nakobe Dean or Sydney Brown attempting to hold their own. 

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