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August 10, 2019

Eagles training camp practice notes, Day 12: Andre Dillard's impressive attempts to get better

Coming off their devastating, franchise-crippling preseason loss to the Tennessee Titans, the Philadelphia Eagles were back out on the field today, in a padded practice. As always, we have notes.

• First the quarterbacks:

  1. Carson Wentz hasn't gotten any reps since Tuesday, and he was a little rusty to start the day, throwing inaccurately of a number of throws, and getting picked off by Nate Gerry. He played much better to close the day, however.
  2. Cody Kessler had a pair of nice sideline throws to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but his lack of arm strength is pretty obvious.If Kessler has to play at all in an actual game, expect him to work the middle of the field, and maybe sit DeSean Jackson in your fantasy league that week. 
  3. Coming off his bad preseason showing, Clayton Thorson handed the ball off on all but one of his reps in 11-on-11's. He threw one pass in those team settings. One. Which he completed!

• Arcega-Whiteside has had a quiet camp after making a lot of catches in the spring. However, he was more active today, and I thought he looked good in the game on Thursday.

Derek Barnett participated in 11-on-11's for the first time today. In case there was any worry that he wouldn't be ready for Week 1, you can now rest easy. We'll update the laundry list of Eagles injuries in a separate post tomorrow morning.

• The team did some goal line work today, with the offense mostly staying in 3-WR sets, and the defense in nickel (sometimes big nickel with three safeties). The highlights:

  1. Sidney Jones had good coverage on Jackson, forcing a throwaway. That drew a an atta boy from Cory Undlin.
  2. DeSean had a diving catch just shy of the end zone, and he reached ball across goal line for a score.
  3. Shareef Miller got up high for a batted pass. Miller hasn't had a stellar camp, but he does have occasional moments where he flashes his athleticism.

• The offense also ran some hurry-up spikes today. One advantage of the painful Chip Kelly era is how fast the offensive linemen get back to the line of scrimmage in hurry-up mode. Jason Kelce, of course, played in Chip's up-tempo offense for three years, and he does a good job getting his OL teammates up on the ball quickly, and snapping it as soon as they're set.

One other thing the Eagles worked on was hurrying up to the line, and instead of spiking it, allowing Wentz to try to hit a receiver on the outside and having him step out of bounds for a few extra cheap yards instead of completely conceding the down. And, of course, if nothing is there, Wentz can just quickly throw it away.

That strategy makes sense. Yes, you burn an extra few seconds, but in the event you got a first down on the previous play, a 2nd and, say, 6, is obviously better than 2nd and 10.

• There was some good action in OL-DL 1-on-1's. The highlights:

  1. Andre Dillard had a nice showing, as usual. He rode Vinny Curry well around edge. He also did a nice job on a Brandon Graham bull rush, which he struggled with in a previous practice. More on that Dillard-Graham matchup in a minute...
  2. Graham killed Jordan Mailata on an inside spin. The inside spin is Mailata's Achilles heel. That's what Joe Ostman beat him with all throughout camp before he tore his ACL.
  3. Derek Barnett got his first taste of 1-on-1's today. He went up against Mailata on several reps. Mailata won Round 1, but Barnett beat him with his patented dip around the edge on Rounds 2 and 3.
  4. Malik Jackson has a really nice "club over" move that's effective because of his height. He likes to get his opponents' hands down, and then swim by them with an over the top arm motion. At 6'6, he has an advantage over shorter interior offensive linemen using that move. Out of curiosity, I checked out one of his highlight reels to see if there's a history of him using that move in games effectively, and, yep.
  5. Kasim Edebali destroyed Matt Pryor (playing left tackle) on inside spin today. Pryor is usually really good in 1-on-1's, but Edebali smoked him.

• Above we mentioned that Dillard went up against Graham. Normally, Graham rushes against the Eagles' right tackles. With Dillard exclusively playing left tackle, he typically wouldn't face off against Graham. However, Dillard specifically asked Graham if he would rush against him so that he could be tested against the team's best edge rusher.

"I asked him to line up on my side after practice one day," Dillard said. "I asked, 'How come you never line up on the left side and never gone against me.'"

Graham was happy to oblige. 

"I wanted to test him out and see how he'd handle the bull rush, so I bull rushed him twice," Graham said. "The whole thing is to get him better. I respect that he came to me." 

That reminds me a little of DeSean Jackson, when he was a young player. He used to purposely face off against Asante Samuel in WR-CB 1-on-1's.

• And finally, we had some kicking. Let's go ahead and update Jake Elliott's chart:

 7/297/31 8/3 8/10  
 33 (good)34 (good) 33 (good) 33 (no good, wide right)  
 33 (good)37 (good) 54 (good) 33 (good) 
 38 (no good, wide right)40 (good)   38 (good) 
 43 (good)43 (good)   38 (good) 
 48 (no good, wide left, shankopotumous)46 (good)   50-plus (no good, well short) 
 48 (good)33 (good)   35 (good) 
  44 (no good, wide right)  40 (good) 
 44 (good)    
 52 (good)    

That's 19 of 24, for those of you scoring at home.

MORE: Eagles 53-man roster projection after first preseason game

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