July 28, 2016
After practicing with his fellow rookies and a few select vets for the last three days, Carson Wentz got his first taste of training camp with the big boys today, and there were two throws that really stood out.
The first throw was the more impressive of the two, but didn't receive the same level of ooh's and ahh's as the second. On the first throw, Wentz made a gorgeous anticipation throw on a "bang eight" (skinny post) route to Trey Burton. Wentz delivered the ball before Burton made his cut, and delivered it through a small window right on target. The ball got on Burton so fast that he made a one-handed grab almost in self-defense.
One of the odd criticisms of Wentz from crazy draft people on Twitter is that Wentz did not throw with anticipation at North Dakota State. Nonsense. While Wentz's receivers were often wide open against lower level competition, he absolutely made throws with anticipation as they were coming out of their breaks. The throw to Burton had precision timing, accuracy, and velocity. That was a pro's throw.
"It was just a pre-snap read," said Wentz of the throw to Burton. "Anticipation throws are just a product of learning the offense. And that's the biggest thing, feeling confident with your timing and mentally understanding what's going on. I think those have been coming along pretty good."
There's no question that Wentz has all the physical attributes. He's big, he has good arm strength, and he's athletic. But if he can consistently read defenses and make throws with that kind of anticipation, watch out.
The second impressive throw came on a deep ball to undrafted rookie wide receiver Paul Turner. Wentz hit Turner perfectly in stride about 40 yards down the left sideline.
Wentz wasn't perfect today. There was one throw that had a wobble and was off-target to Jordan Matthews, who still made the grab but could not maximize his yards after the catch. And those will happen. But it's the "wow" throws that are encouraging from the future face of the franchise.
• The energy level at practice was very good on the "real" first day of camp, even though rain forced it inside the practice bubble. Players were really flying around, and the practice had a better tempo than most of what I've seen so far under Doug Pederson.
One downside of the added juice was that a lot of players were jumping offsides today, which is somewhat to be expected of the first day of camp. There were multiple penalties both by the offense and defense on hard counts.
• Jalen Mills was something of a camp darling the first three days of rookie camp, as well as in OTAs and minicamp. Today, he got a lot of action against some veteran receivers instead of just a bunch of undrafted guys. On one deep ball down the right sideline, Jordan Matthews reached over Mills to initially make a catch, but Mills was able to stick with the play by getting his hands in between the ball and Matthews' body, and was able to wrestle it out before Matthews controlled it long enough as he hit the ground. Well done.
On another play, Rueben Randle beat Mills deep down the right sideline, but Sam Bradford overthrew it. That would have been a TD with a better throw.
• As noted above, Trey Burton was the recipient of what I thought was Wentz's best moment of training camp so far. Burton was very active today, catching a number of passes from Wentz. After practice, offensive coordinator Frank Reich praised Burton's receiving ability.
"I love Trey Burton," said Reich. "He's a football player. That guy understands the game. He's very athletic. He's got good size. Some guys just know how to play. You can put them on the field, put them at any position it seems like. He really impressed me in OTAs. There were times he was running routes outside, and on the tape it looks like it's a receiver and yet he's 245-250 pounds and he plays tight end, so I'm very impressed with him and I'm looking for some good production from him."
Wait, so Burton might actually get to play this year? That'd be nice.
• RB Kenjon Barner and WR T.J. Graham had the most egregious drops of the day.
• One guy who hasn't dropped much of anything this offseason has been Jordan Matthews. In OTAs and minicamp, he caught the ball really well, and that carried over into the first day of camp, when Matthews made several difficult catches, many times in traffic (the one example with Mills above aside). Matthews contributed to the Eagles' league-leading drops a season ago, and it appears as though Matthews does not want to repeat that.
Here's what the defensive depth chart looked like today:
|Vinny Curry||Fletcher Cox||Bennie Logan||Connor Barwin|
|Brandon Graham||Taylor Hart/Mike Martin||Beau Allen||Marcus Smith|
|Steven Means / Alex McCalister||Destiny Vaeao||Connor Wujciak / Aziz Shittu||Bryan Braman|
|Nigel Bradham||Jordan Hicks||Mychal Kendricks|
|Najee Goode||Joe Walker||Deontae Skinner|
|Myke Tavarres||Don Cherry||Quentin Gause|
|Leodis McKelvin||Rodney McLeod||Malcolm Jenkins||Ron Brooks||Nolan Carroll|
|Jalen Mills / Nolan Carroll||Ed Reynolds||Jaylen Watkins||Eric Rowe||JaCorey Shepherd|
|Randall Evans||Blake Countess||Chris Maragos||Denzel Rice||Aaron Grymes|
To note, just like in OTAs, when Carroll came on the field as the nickel, he played outside and Ron Brooks moved into the slot.
Also, it would appear Jim Schwartz put his second team safeties with the third team defense, and vice versa.
• One new injury to report -- RG Brandon Brooks sat out with a hamstring injury. He's day-to-day.
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