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July 28, 2023

Eagles training camp game ball: James Bradberry continues to look like an All-Pro

During the Eagles' second training camp practice, All-Pros A.J. Brown and James Bradberry both made their respective presences known.

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7.26.23_EaglesPractice_James-Bradberry-8402.jpg Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Eagles cornerback James Bradberry takes the field for the first practice of training camp on Wednesday, July 26, 2023 at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia.

Friday morning's Eagles training camp practice was a bit smoother overall than Wednesday's opener for both sides of the ball. After Day 1 of camp, I awarded a "game ball" to a member of both the offense and defense, giving props to tight end Tyree Jackson and linebacker Christian Elliss. Those are unheralded guys in sharp contrast to the duo I'm going with now, a pair of All-Pro players in A.J. Brown and James Bradberry. 

Here's how each fared at the NovaCare Complex...

Offensive game ball: WR A.J. Brown

Brown began practice with the play of training camp so far. Battling down the left sideline, Jalen Hurts lofted a ball Brown's way. Fighting for positioning, Brown was able to create separation and haul in a perfectly placed pass. Hurts later found Brown on a sharp crossing route for a nice gain in the middle of the field. I wrote it in my Friday Hurts practice notes, but outside of the "Tush Push," a slant to Brown over the middle is the most unstoppable play in the Birds' playbook. 

Hurts continued to look Brown's way throughout practice, connecting on a few sit routes. Brown sizably out-targeted fellow star wideout DeVonta Smith.

Brown had the best season by a receiver in franchise history in 2022, even topping the heights from Terrell Owens' dominant 2004 campaign. Brown totaled 1,496 receiving yards on a whopping 17.0 yards per reception to go with 11 touchdowns. He followed that up with a six-catch, 96-yard, one-touchdown performance in a losing effort in the Super Bowl.

I don't expect Brown's numbers to reach what they were last season as Smith develops into an elite receiver in his own right and Dallas Goedert continues to be one of the sport's best tight ends, but when the lights shine brightest, I'd bank on Brown showing up and balling out. 

Defensive game ball: CB James Bradberry

When mentioning Brown receiving more targets in camp than Smith, that might have a lot to do with the fact that James Bradberry has been sticking Smith. Bradberry had a nice pass breakup on a slant route from Olamide Zaccheaus that showcased just how disruptive he is. Tight coverage from the Eagles' defensive backs necessitated Hurts doing a whole lot of scrambling in the pocket on Friday, a credit to Bradberry and the other members of the first-team defense. 

I'm honestly still surprised that Bradberry returned to Philadelphia this offseason. He was one of Howie Roseman's best one-year signings ever, as Bradberry was named a Second-Team All-Pro at cornerback in 2022. His new three-year contract with just $20 million guaranteed is well below what I thought he would've gotten on the open market. 

The Eagles are going to need both Bradberry and Darius Slay to play up their 2022 level this fall with matchups against Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson, Mike Evans, Garrett Wilson, Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and a whole lot more looming. 

2023 Training Camp Game Ball Tally:

James Bradberry: 1

A.J. Brown: 1

Christian Elliss: 1

Tyree Jackson: 1

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