July 29, 2021
It was a cool, overcast day at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday for Philadelphia Eagles training camp Day No. 2. The lads were still in shells and shorts, but we have our first update on the best battle in camp, at left tackle. As always, our practice notes:
• On Day 1 of camp, Andre Dillard got the first opportunity to play with the first-team offense. On Day 2, it was Jordan Mailata. Dillard had a rough day.
In 1-on-1's, Josh Sweat gained the edge on Dillard, and all Dillard could do to slow him down was wrap his arm around Sweat's neck. Clear as day holding call. Later in 1-on-1's, he overset to the outside against Derek Barnett, who cut back inside and beat Dillard badly. In 11-on-11's, Barnett was on his way to a win around the edge, but Dillard basically tackled him. Again, a clear holding call.
Mailata, meanwhile was a brick wall for most of the day. Barnett tried to bull rush him at one point, but Mailata and his long levers kept him at bay. Mailata did a nice job using his long arms to his advantage during the season last year, too, shown here:
Heading into camp, I figured Mailata would win the LT job, because, well, he's a better football player. It's early, and they haven't even put on the pads yet (so, grain of salt and whatnot), but Dillard isn't off to an encouraging start, while Mailata is.
• I camped out by the OL 1-on-1's, and here's what I saw:
Sweat looks good. In addition to drawing a clear holding call on Dillard, he also smoked Brett Toth. Sweat had 6 sacks last year, and they weren't of the "cheapy" variety. There are some impressive rushes here.
I've been impressed by rookie sixth round pick Tarron Jackson early on. When I watched his college games, I saw a hustle player with good hand fighting skills who lacked ideal length and athletic measurables. I did not see him bend the corner like he did today against Casey Tucker. He was able to get low on his dip and beat Tucker to the outside. He'll be on my radar going forward.
Sua Opeta had a nice day. He had decisive wins against Milton Williams and Hassan Ridgeway. I took a look at all of Opeta's snaps last season, and came away pleasantly surprised by his play. It's a very crowded group along the OL, but he's got a chance to make the team.
A couple of a guys who have been lining up as off-ball linebackers in team drills, but participating in 1-on-1 pass rusher drills are Genard Avery and rookie seventh round pick Patrick Johnson. Jonathan Gannon spoke at length about how he wants his players on defense to be able to play multiple positions, which isn't exactly a new trend in the NFL, but Gannon seems to want to take that to a new level. We'll cover that in more depth soon.
• OL-DL 1-on-1 drills typically take place while the skill guys run 7-on-7's. While watching the 1-on-1's, I heard the crowd cheer, and looked over in time to see DeVonta Smith haul in a deep pass in stride from Jalen Hurts. That was the crowd-pleaser play of the day. Smith beat Steven Nelson and K'Von Wallace for the big play.
• Hurts, a +8000 longshot to win MVP according to Pickswise, got off to a slow start today after a shaky day yesterday, but got it going a bit as the day wore on. He made some nice throws today, including the one mentioned above to Smith, as well as a another big gainer to John Hightower.
• A pair of running backs vying for roster spots made plays today. Kerryon Johnson had a nice run that included a few cuts. There are concerns about the health of his knee, but it looked fine on that run. Later Jason Huntley had a long run (called back by a hold) in which you could really see his speed. I like Huntley's chances of sticking with the team as a speed back / kick returner.
• On Day 1, guys like Davion Taylor, Wallace, Dillard, and Sweat got the first cracks at running with the first team. On Day 2, we already mentioned that Mailata got the initial reps at LT, but also, Marcus Epps got the first reps today over Wallace at safety, while Barnett got the first reps over Sweat at RDE. Interestingly, Taylor continued to get first-team reps for the second straight day at LB.
• Eagles defenders were really prioritizing punching at the football, trying to force fumbles. Avonte Maddox got Zach Ertz, while an unidentified defensive back got Hakeem Butler.
• 53-man roster note: The staring kick coverage team looked like so:
22 - 41 - 58 - 57 - 42 - 4 - 37 - 54 - 52 - 31 - 29
From left to right, that would be Marcus Epps, Kevon Seymour, Genard Avery, T.J. Edwards, K'Von Wallace, Jake Elliott, Grayland Arnold, Shaun Bradley, Davion Taylor, Craig James, and Avonte Maddox.
By the way, shouldn't special teams "snaps" be called something else, since there isn't actually a snap that occurs on kickoffs? Eh, whatever.
• RG Brandon Brooks left practice early. He went to the trainer's table, before walking inside under his own power. The Eagles categorized it as a “precautionary evaluation” of his hamstring.
• WR Jalen Reagor was limited for the second straight day with "lower body tightness." This is a big camp for Reagor, but he hasn't taken any competitive reps yet.
• Stay tuned for a practice wrap-up podcast soon, which will appear here whenever it is recorded and published:
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