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July 30, 2017

What they're saying about Eagles: Wentz, offense dominate first 'real' practice of camp

Eagles NFL

A day after donning pads for the first time this summer, the Eagles took the field at the Linc as they welcomed fans to their first of two open training camp practices.

We'll have more from South Philly throughout the day, but in the meantime, we've got an offensive-heavy edition of What They're Saying after a dominant performance by Carson Wentz and the offense.

First, the head coach tried to temper the excitement. 

"Day one of camp, listen, we got a lot of camp to go," Doug Pederson said Sunday. "I've been around this game a lot, a lot of training camp practices. The defense is going to get theirs just like the offense is going to get theirs. It goes back and forth.

"It was an exciting first day in pads to see the guys run around. I'm not going to get overly-hyped on one practice."

Doug might be able to keep the hype at bay, but what about the fans? That's doubtful. Anyway, let's get right into it...

Have a day, Carson Wentz

Tim McManus |

In case you didn't hear, Carson Wentz and the Eagles receivers had quite an impressive showing on Saturday. But offensive coordinator Frank Reich is trying to temper his expectations.

"It's only one practice so I'm not getting too excited," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said, "but that's probably as well as we've executed in the passing game since I've been here."

One sequence in particular spoke to how dialed-in Wentz was. He threaded one down the seam to wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who made an over-the-shoulder, fingertip grab in traffic, then ran the length of the field so he could flip the ball to a young boy wearing one of Wentz's "AO1" T-shirts. A beat later, Wentz hurled a sideline pass that at first glance looked as though it had no chance but dropped in over top of the defense and right into the arms of tight end Zach Ertz.

"It was great," Alshon Jeffery said. "I think Carson did a great job spinning it, we as receivers did a great job catching it, O-line did a great job protecting, and we had run plays, we had some pretty good runs as well."  []

Trial by fire

Les Bowen | Philadelphia Daily News

That improved passing game is proving a tough test for the cornerbacks. But they're viewing it as a good thing.

Veteran corner Ron Brooks said there is frustration, but it leads to improvement.

“I just think they make you work your technique, make you have to really make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do within the scheme,” Brooks said. “Seven-on-seven with no pass rush, the quarterback can sit back there and make his reads comfortably, but it’s still a period we’ve got [in practice], and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz doesn’t enjoy seeing the offense get the better of his guys. Schwartz delivered a pungent critique Saturday after several running-game reps resulted in backs romping free because no one could get off a block. But Schwartz, too, takes the attitude that better receivers ultimately make better young corners.  []

Picture perfect

Chris McPherson & Fran Duffy |

The guys at break down every one of Wentz's throws from his perfect 7-on-7 drill:

The play of the day. Wentz hits Ertz with a back shoulder throw along the right sideline for 29 yards. Ertz caught the ball and got both feet in as he was falling to the ground. Watkins had good coverage on the play. Amazing anticipation throw. Note that wide receiver Nelson Agholor was creating confusion for the defense running a go route.  []

But it wasn’t all perfect for Wentz, who was viciously sacked by Trey Burton’s son:

Smith turning heads in surprise role

Geoff Mosher | FanRag Sports

Maybe Torrey Smith's proclamation earlier this year wasn't so crazy after all. Then again, he's going up against these cornerbacks... 

Philadelphia Eagles receiver Torrey Smith surprised some observers at training camp on Friday with a couple of nice grabs in an unfamiliar spot — in front of the defense, not behind it.On one of them, Smith split left and raced off scrimmage, only to slam on the brakes, turn his body back toward quarterback Carson Wentz and secure the ball with both hands to complete a short comeback route that moved the chains.

Those aren’t the kind plays typically associated with Smith, who was once known as a premier deep threat in Baltimore before bottoming out the last two seasons in San Francisco…

In the spring, Smith insisted he wasn’t a one-trick pony, joking with reporters that, “of all my catches, I don’t have 100 9-routes.” But the former Maryland standout also admitted he entered the NFL “definitely more rough around the edges” than most rookie receivers.  []

Does it ever end?

Bob Grotz | The Delaware County Times

Not many off weeks for Lane Johnson this season... 

When Johnson looks at the Eagles’ schedule, it’s like he’s breaking down an enormous construction project.

“I think I’m going against the best pass rushers in the league this year,” Johnson said. “I’ve got Von Miller, I’ve got Khalil Mack, I’ve got Justin Houston. Go look at who I’m playing and I’m pretty much playing a Pro Bowler every week. People like to identity the best rusher being on the left tackle and that’s not the case anymore. They like to put their best rusher on the perceived weaker tackle. So I’m getting ready for it. It’s a lot more mental preparation than ever.

“I need to study a lot more film.”

Johnson didn’t mention Ryan Kerrigan, the edge rusher for Washington he faces in the opener. Huge challenges are ahead in Olivier Vernon (Giants), Joey Bosa (Chargers), Charles Johnson (Panthers) and Michael Bennett (Seahawks).  []

[Insert obligatory 'tight end' joke here]

Les Bowen | The Philadelphia Daily News

Zach Ertz is a pretty reserved guy. So it's no surprise that it was his wife's idea to pose nude in ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue.

“My wife really wanted to do it. I did not necessarily want to do it,” Ertz, an Eagles tight end, said this week…

“We were sophomores or juniors in college … It came out and she was like, ‘What do you think about it?’ I was like, “I don’t know if I’d really like to do it.’ She was like, ‘I don’t think I would want to do it individually, but if we ever got the opportunity to do it together, I think it would be really cool.’

“At the time I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, that’s never going to happen, that opportunity’s never going to come up.’ ”

Alas, it did.  []

Welcome to the future

Dave Spadaro |

The Eagles are using a new technology this season that has some very cool potential. They also noted that some of the stats could be available to fans next season.

The data culled from the chip will be available very shortly after each session, practice, or game, and will include measurables such as the distance the football is thrown or kicked, the velocity of the ball in the air, and the average rotations per throw or kick. A third benefit, then, is the fan experience of seeing the numbers and comparing them week over week, player to player.

This is just the start of chip technology in the football, and it’s an important one. Information is king and the Eagles hope to use the data – and to push for more metrics to gather – and learn as much as they can about the players and their performance on the football field.  []

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