“You guys hydrated?” Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai asked 30 minutes before the team was set to practice. The temperature pushed into the 90s during the Eagles’ second session of the summer, and they practiced for a little more than 75 minutes. Here’s a running diary, or at least the parts that weren’t covered by sweat in the notes.
10:01 a.m. ET — With the Eagles stretching, the only player on the active roster missing is edge rusher Haason Reddick. He’s still nursing groin soreness and watched from the sideline on Friday. The team expects him back after the weekend. Derek Barnett (knee) and Avonte Maddox (toe) remain limited participants.
10:14 a.m. — Coach Nick Sirianni is raising his temperature during ball security drills. You read Bo Wulf’s report from Wednesday’s session, and Sirianni remained fired up. He wants the Eagles’ fundamentals perfect during camp. He then points out — in a colorful manner — that if it’s not perfect during practice, it won’t be perfect in a game.
Sirianni already has an obsession with details, but I can see him going on overdrive in that area this summer. He will try to do whatever he can to guard against complacency with the team, and one way to do so is by not allowing little details to slip.
10:30 a.m. — The Eagles go to their first 11-on-11 period, and the first play is a deep pass down the left sideline from Jalen Hurts to A.J. Brown. It looked like Josiah Scott was in coverage, and it’s a size mismatch to have Brown against Scott. Brown was able to create separation with his body, outmuscling the small cornerback and making a play on the ball in the air. Brown had 88 catches for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season with the Eagles. It might be ambitious to expect more, but it’s clear whenever you watch him that he’s one of the elite receivers in the NFL. Hurts later connected with Brown across the middle, evidence of how the wideout can make plays at all levels.
10:35 a.m. — It’s worth pointing out that Cam Jurgens remains with the first-team offensive line. This isn’t a situation in which the Eagles are rotating right guard by day. It’s clearly Jurgens’ job to lose. Also, Dennis Kelly is with the second-team offense at left tackle. That didn’t take long.
10:39 a.m. — In the seven-on-seven period, Maddox is taking some snaps in the slot. That’s a good sign for the Eagles. They need him healthy — and to remain healthy.
The number I have written down in my notebook a few times is “39.” That’s Deon Cain, who was signed this week. He made a few nice catches in this session. Cain was on the Eagles’ practice squad for part of last season and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts when Sirianni was there. He played in the United States Football League last season. The Eagles have roster spots available down the depth chart, and Cain has experience and good size (6-foot-2, 202 pounds) to try to push for a spot this summer.
10:49 a.m. — Speaking of wide receivers with a winding road, Greg Ward made the biggest gain of the day when he caught a deep pass from Marcus Mariota in another 11-on-11 period. Ward has been with the Eagles since 2017 — this is his seventh summer with the team — but he didn’t play in a game last season. A good sign for him to get open downfield, and a nice pass from Mariota, who rebounded from an inconsistent first day.
10:50 a.m. — I have “3” in my notebook, so it’s a good time to write about Nolan Smith. The caveat to any Smith note: let’s wait for the pads to come on, because the practices this time of the summer tend to favor athleticism and those who can play in space. But the athleticism is apparent, and what jumped out to me Friday was the versatility. He was quick around the edge and also looked natural dropping into coverage between Dallas Goedert and Boston Scott. It might seem hypocritical to emphasize coverage when we made a point last year to note that Reddick was here to rush the quarterback and not drop, but when assessing Smith’s ability, he simply looks natural with whatever the Eagles ask him to do.
10:52 a.m. — An underthrown pass from Hurts to DeVonta Smith was the lone obvious blemish of the quarterback’s morning. Hurts was otherwise on his mark most of practice and made sound decisions. There were a few potential sacks when he held the ball longer than you usually see in practice, but a big part of Hurts’ game is his ability to improvise. An annual training camp debate is about when to blow the whistle.
Jalen Hurts begins Year 4, but it won’t be documented on Netflix
10:54 a.m. — Jordan Davis gets a nice push up the middle. Davis must show he can be productive as a pass rusher this summer. He’s said to be in good condition and the Eagles are bullish on their 2022 first-round pick.
“I love the shape that he’s come in, I love the mentality he’s playing with,” Desai said. “It’s early. We want to see that day in, day out.”
The Eagles need to keep refining Davis’ skill set, but they also know he has traits that cannot be taught.
“Go find another human being that looks like him,” Desai said. “There are not many people built like that. He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s powerful. It’s about putting it all together and then us helping him put it all together and getting the right combination of guys in there and being impactful.”
11 a.m. — Sirianni watched a special teams period with Matt Patricia, so it’s a good time to discuss the former Detroit Lions coach (and New England Patriots assistant) who is now the Eagles’ senior defensive assistant. Patricia and Darius Slay famously clashed in Detroit. Slay, in his first public comments with Philadelphia reporters since the hire, said Friday the Eagles consulted with him before hiring Patricia. Slay said he did not object, and the two have since reconciled.
“Me and him talked as man-to-man and we got a great understanding,” Slay said. “We both want to win. He’s here to help me get better. He wants to get better as a coach. So we’re in good hands right now. It took a lot for both of us to talk. So we did a great job.”
Sirianni said Thursday that Patricia can be a valuable resource as a former head coach, and the knowledge from the Bill Belichick coaching tree will allow Sirianni to grow.
“Always been fascinated by that coaching tree,” Sirianni said, “and how I can pick the brain of that (tree) so I can continue to get better as a coach and ultimately us get better as a team.”
11:04 a.m. — A potential highlight for Quez Watkins was ruled incomplete along the sideline, but Watkins held on to the ball in tight coverage and almost tapped his feet inbounds. It’s a big summer for Watkins, who is entering his fourth season after an inconsistent 2022 campaign. Sirianni said Watkins had a strong summer. He’s remained with the first-team offense. The only player who could push him is Olamide Zaccheaus, who has been mostly quiet through two days but looked good in space on a short completion late in Friday’s practice when he ran across the formation to make a catch.
11:08 a.m. — You’ve heard about Sirianni’s obsession with situational football. There were two situations he picked out in the final full-team drill. The first was a two-point conversion to win the game, which the Eagles didn’t actually attempt because the defense jumped offside. The next was a four-point play — a play that amounted to a third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, so the Eagles would need to score a touchdown or settle for a field goal. Mariota scrambled to his right, but no one was open and he ended up running out of bounds.
11:19 a.m. — Practice finishes, and the Eagles are off on Saturday before returning Sunday. The pads should come on next week, when there will be more to watch — especially on the line of scrimmage. The heat wave is expected to break by then, too.
(Photo: Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)