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Eagles Training Camp Practice Observations: Wentz leaves fans excited for the future

By: Andrew DiCecco, Sports Talk Philly Staff

A stunning 36,000 fans made their way to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday to catch a glimpse of their beloved Eagles ahead of Thursday's preseason opener.

 

Alshon Jeffrey (shoulder), returned to practice and took part in the positional drills. Running back Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), and linebacker Mychal Kendricks (quadriceps), were also back in full uniform.

 

Players held out from practice today include quarterback Nick Foles (elbow), guard Josh Andrews (hand), wide receiver Paul Turner (shoulder), tight end Anthony Denham (calf) and tight end Adam Zaruba (concussion).

 

Wide receiver Marcus Johnson was held out of most of today's practice after he felt a small tweak in his hamstring. It was likely a precautionary measure.

 

Newly signed defensive back Corey Graham made his Eagles debut at this morning's practice, donning No. 36. The Eagles signed the 10-year veteran to a one-year contract on Thursday.

 

Speaking of Graham, he did not appear to do anything of note at today's practice, though he did provide sufficient coverage during the 1-on-1 period, particularly on underneath routes. The special teams standout is also expected to add competition at safety.

 

Practice Notes and Thoughts:

 

To sum it up, Carson Wentz was incredible.

 

Wentz put on a clinic during the 7-on-7 period, dropping an absolute dime in the back of the endzone to Jordan Matthews, who had a step on Malcolm Jenkins. He followed it up with a deep ball down the left sideline to Torrey Smith, who got behind Jalen Mills.

 

Later in the period, Wentz tossed another beautiful pass over the top Nelson Agholor, but it was dropped. 

 

Wentz saved his best for last, when he delivered a strike to Trey Burton on a seam route during team period. Wentz fit the ball in between three defenders, and Burton made a diving catch down the hash marks.

 

Shelton Gibson had far and away his best practice as an Eagle, particularly during the 1-on-1 period. During that phase, he made a leaping reception just shy of the endzone, then proceeded to dive into the endzone after shaking off defensive back Tay Glover-Wright minutes later.

 

It was a great sight seeing his teammates come over and celebrate with him, as his struggles in this young preseason have been well documented.

 

Nelson Agholor had an up-and-down practice. Despite dropping two passes in today's practice, Agholor has made great strides in his third NFL Training Camp, and earned reps as the first-team slot receiver. Agholor should thrive in the slot, where he has regulary created separation due to his precise route running ability.

 

Zach Ertz was very active during the 7-on-7 period. After briefly exiting to get his leg examined, he returned and made some spectacular catches over the middle and down the hash marks. Later in the period, he came down with a highlight reel worthy back shoulder throw placed right on the money from Wentz, between linebackers Nigel Bradham and Nate Gerry.

 

Mack Hollins had a strong day, making the most of his first-team reps with Jeffrey limited, and Marcus Johnson out of the lineup.

 

Hollins made a couple contested catches during team period, and used his size to sore over fellow rookie Rasul Douglas for a touchdown during 1-on-1s. He also excelled in the gunner drill, using his large frame to overmatch the blockers.

 

Jalen Mills had an impressive interception during the 1-on-1 period, when he took the ball away from Torrey Smith in the endzone. Quarterback Matt McGloin struggled with his accuracy throughout practice. 

 

Rasul Douglas had a noteworthy day, coming up to defend a short pass intended for Torrey Smith during the team period, then a few plays later, intercepting quarterback Dane Evans.

 

While Douglas has struggled defending the deep ball this summer, he seems most comfortable coming up and using his instincts and aggressiveness to drive on the ball.

 

First-team cornerbacks included Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson on the outside, with Ron Brooks manning the slot. Speaking of Robinson, he has looked better over the last few practices, and looked fluid in coverage this morning.

 

During an 11-on-11 team period, the team focused on converting 3rd and 2. The personnel included Wendell Smallwood at running back, and Trey Burton in the slot. Interesting.

 

My random takeaways from practice: Bryce Treggs might be the quickest player on the team. He is remarkably sharp with his cuts, and very explosive off the line.

 

Treggs also performed well in the 1-on-1 phase. In one rep in particular, his crisp route running was on full display as he easily eluded safety Terrence Brooks, and hauled in a pass along the sideline before turning upfield. He certainly has his work cut out for him, but he made the most out of the extended reps he received today.

 

He translated that momentum into a strong showing versus the first-team defense, and at one point he caught a pass, made two defenders collide - then he hit turbo.

 

Byron Marshall looks super smooth catching the football, and may well have the best hands of the entire running back corps. He ran convincing routes, and was a popular target for the quarterbacks during team period.

 

C.J. Smith is the most talented cornerback on this roster, and has made tremendous strides going into his second NFL season. Possessing the skills to play both outside and in the slot, Smith has quietly had an eye opening summer.

 

An intelligent and instinctive corner, Smith is at his best when he is able to come down and drive on the ball. When Sept. 10 rolls around, I fully anticipate seeing C.J. Smith in the Eagles starting lineup.

 

The Eagles return to the NovaCare Complex on Monday, and will resume practice tomorrow morning at 9:15.

 

 

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