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August 07, 2018

Eagles training camp practice observations, Day 11

The Philadelphia Eagles were going to practice in pads on Day 11 of training camp Tuesday morning, but Doug Pederson took his foot of the gas a bit, and had a lighter day in the 90 degree heat. Wusses. As always, we have notes.

Carson Wentz did not participate in 11-on-11's, as he hasn't for over a week now, but he did take reps in 7-on-7's, and he was on fire. Three throws stood out.

  1. Early in the day, he threw a missile down the seam to Greg Ward, who made a great hands catch, given the velocity on the ball. 
  2. In red zone drills, he pumped faked a throw over the middle to freeze the safety, and then hit Dallas Goedert with a perfect touch pass over Jalen Mills in the back corner of the end zone.
  3. Also in the red zone, tight end Josh Perkins was on the ground, just over the mouth of the goal line. No matter. Wentz lasered a low fastball into him through a tiny window. That was a wow throw.

Granted, 7-on-7's favor the offense, but Wentz was playing without Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, and Nelson Agholor today, going up against the first team defense, and he dominated.

After practice, Wentz was asked about his arm strength compared with previous training camps. 

"I think it's very similar," he said. "I'm not out there with a radar gun or anything, but I feel good mechanically. My arm feels strong. I feel like I can make all the throws. I don't feel like I've lost a step with that because of the knee."

Personally, I think he may be throwing with more velocity than he ever has. 

• We haven't mentioned Fletcher Cox at all throughout camp, for a couple reasons. First, you already know how good he is, so there isn't much value in that. And secondly, he kind of goes into hibernation during camp. In previous years (I want to say 2015 stands out), some reporters (self included) mentioned in practice notes that he wasn't making any plays, and then he had a monster season. So I learned my lesson on that.

Anyway, he had a play today with the offense backed up against its own goal line in which he exploded off the snap and bulldozed the first team offensive line, forcing a quick throwaway by Nate Sudfeld that was close to being intentional grounding for a safety.

• There's little question that Dallas Goedert can get open and catch passes, but there are legitimate question marks about his ability as a blocker. In the same drill with the offense backed up, Derek Barnett made easy work of Goedert, who was trying to single-block him in pass protection. You would expect Barnett to beat tight ends when those opportunities present themselves, but that looked too easy.

• There was some concern about Mack Hollins appearing in the "stock down" portion of our "stock up / stock down" media poll yesterday. Personally, I don't think Hollins has been bad. He's just been quiet. 

Today, he ran a really nice route today against Ronald Darby. He sold a deep route, put his foot in the ground with a sharp cut, and broke it outside for an easy 12 yard completion in which he kept his feet in bounds. There's no reason for concern. Hollins is the fourth receiver. He'll be absolutely fine in his role this season. 

• I don't think the Eagles will keep four tight ends, but Josh Perkins had a ton of catches today, including the catch on the laser from Wentz noted above. Assuming he can still breathe after making that catch, I would expect him to be active in the preseason games, for the degenerate gamblers among you who play preseason fantasy football.

• If you like punter notes, you're in luck, because I have a lot of them. If not, just stop reading now.

The Eagles gave Cameron Johnston some work in a variety of settings today. They gave him a traditional punting setting, they had him work on "pin them deep" situations, and they had him punting out of the back of the end zone.

Traditional punting setting: Johnston only had two punts today in which he was in an area of the field (it was around the Eagles' own 20) where it was a "blast off" situation. 

  1. The first one was ugly. I don't know if he was trying to hit it low in between the numbers and the sideline, or if he was trying to hit a bomb, but it was a low line drive right down the middle of the field. In no scenario, ever, to you want to hit a low line drive down the middle of the field.
  2. The second one had a hang time of 4.32, medium distance. Not ideal.

Pin them deep: Johnston attempted eight punts on the opposing team's side of the field, in which he was trying to pin them deep. Here is where he landed each punt:

  1. 16 yard line (fair catch)
  2. 12 yard line (fair catch)
  3. 14 yard line (big bounce into the end zone for a touchback)
  4. 9 yard line (checked up somewhat, gunner downed it at the 1)
  5. 9 yard line (checked up at the 9)
  6. 13 yard line (fair catch)
  7. 10 yard line (bounced into end zone for a touchback)
  8. 10 yard line (checked up somewhat, downed at the 5)

These types of punts were Donnie Jones' specialty. He always had great ball placement, and was more often than not able to make the ball bounce backward (similarly to a golf ball with a lot of backspin) when it landed. Johnston's punts seem to be more of "luck of the draw" in terms of whether or not they're going to check up or not. 

Ideally, you'd like to land those punts just inside the 10, which some check up action, where the returner isn't likely to fair catch it, and you give your gunners a chance to down it inside the 10. The results of Johnston's punts were OK, but they didn't look right on the eye test.

Punting out of the shadow of the goal post: Here I thought Johnston did a nice job. I wasn't able to get the stopwatch out quickly enough for his first one, but it had nice hang time and distance. His second punt had a hang time of 4.7 seconds (that's decent), with medium distance. He also got the ball out quickly.

My apologies. It's Day 11.

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