We’re just over two weeks into Eagles training camp, and just under a week until their first preseason game at the Linc against Pittsburgh. The Eagles are inching closer and closer to start of the regular season, but it still appears the team (the offense in particular) needs to iron out a few things before they’re 100 percent ready for Week 1.
We’ll be able to make some true observations once the team takes the field next Thursday under the Lincoln Financial Field lights. But for now, let’s get into some takeaways from the second week of practice at the NovaCare Complex.
Hurts and the offense has struggled, especially on Saturday
The general consensus from most Eagles beat writers is that the defense has outplayed the offense through two week of work. That’s not overly surprising — it typically takes the offense a bit longer to get ready for live game action.
During Saturday’s practice, there was no question as to which unit performed better. Jonathan Gannon’s defense dominated.
Jalen Hurts reportedly had his worst day of camp, struggling to complete passes and tossing a handful of bad passes, resulting in interceptions and PBUs.
Jalen Hurts didn’t have his sharpest day but we weren’t seeing a lot of separation from his receivers either. His best completions on Saturday went to the tight ends. You give some credit to the Eagles’ defense — they played well on Saturday — but the offense has some work to do. Hurts began training camp getting better each day, but that wasn’t the case on Saturday. He struggled on his 23rd birthday.”
He goes on to say we shouldn’t be concerned with Hurts just yet. A handful of starting offensive lineman didn’t suit up Saturday, which led to the defensive line getting pressure nearly every snap.
All in all, Hurts has progressed over the first two weeks of camp. There have been days where he looks sharp with the football. Earlier in the week, Hurts had his best day of camp so far, according to Eliot Shorr-Parks.
Thursday will be the true test for Hurts and this offense. We’ll have a better grasp of where this unit is at following their matchup with the Steelers.
Reagor has bounced back after slow start to camp
Second-year wideout Jalen Reagor came into camp with the weight of a tragic loss on his shoulders. He failed his initial conditioning test, and didn’t start practicing until about half way through the first week of camp.
With DeVonta Smith out for a few more weeks with an MCL sprain, all eyes have turned to Reagor to see how he handles being the No. 1 option on the outside. According to Eagles beat writers, he hasn’t disappointed.
Reagor had his best day of camp on Thursday, repeatedly toasting Darius Slay in 1-on-1 drills, along with making the catch of camp. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a thing of beauty.
It’s always tough to tell where someone’s head space is at following the loss of a close childhood friend. Reagor seems to have turned a corner and is playing with a chip on his shoulder. As a fan, not only is it great to see it from a football standpoint, but seeing this young man step up his game after a life changing event and a few bad practices is admirable.
I’m still all in on a Reagor breakout season in 2021. I can’t wait to see what he does.
Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett have been impressive
It was apparent after the first few days of camp that Josh Sweat was in for a career year in 2021, but what has been lost in the shuffle is how good Derek Barnett has been. Both players have something to prove in 2021.
Both players are entering contract years, and if they continue to play well into the regular season, the team will have a tough decision to make. Ideally, Howie Roseman can find a way to bring both of them back. Two stud defensive ends under the age of 25 is nearly impossible to find in the NFL. They could be the anchors of this line in the post Brandon Graham/Fletcher Cox era.
Barnett has been healthy this training camp, which is a big step forward from previous seasons. It seems llike Barnett is banged up every year during camp. Following Monday’s practice, nj.com’s Mike Kaye wrote about how dominant Barnett has been thus far:
For the first time in a long time, DE Derek Barnett is healthy during training camp. He’s making the most of being injury-free, as he’s been lights out during camp thus far. Following a day off, Barnett was relentless in practice during 1-on-1 sessions and team drills. In 1-on-1 drills, Barnett rushed against right tackle Jack Driscoll and beat him with a spin move that made Driscoll fall to the ground. Barnett also had a particularly dominant rep against Andre Dillard in 11-on-11 work, as he powered Dillard into the pocket almost immediately and created pressure that forced Jalen Hurts to scramble.
This defensive line has looked as advertised so far in camp. If it translates to Sundays, the entire defense should be a formidable unit.
2 surprise offensive players that could make the final roster
With every training camp, there’s bound to be at least one or two unknown players who standout. This year, those two players are tight end Tyree Jackson and running back Jason Huntley.
Let’s start with Tyree Jackson, who’s in the process of converting from college quarterback to NFL tight end. It’s never easy to change positions upon entering the NFL, but Jackson has made tremendous strides at the position through two weeks of camp.
The 6-foot-7, 249 pound tight end has always stood out because of his size, but his play is starting to turn heads, too. He’s made several contested catches during team drills, and he seems like he could be a dark horse to make the final roster. Now, the Eagles already have three reliable tight ends who are expected to make the roster. Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, and Richard Rodgers are all veterans and obviously capable players on the field.
Could the team potentially waive Rodgers to give Jackson that final spot? Maybe. Rodgers is serviceable but there’s no upside with him. Jackson could be a developmental piece as the TE3. They could place him on the practice squad, but there’s always the chance another team scoops him away for their 53-man roster. He feels like a project worth keeping around and out of the grasps of anyone else.
Then we have Jason Huntley, the 23-year-old back who’s shined through two weeks of camp. His speed is what really jumps out at you, according to NBC Sports Philly’s Reuben Frank. He writes, “Every day, there’s at least one rep where he blasts around the corner with that 4.34 speed and runs away from the defense for an explosive play.”
Like tight end, the Eagles also have a crowded running back room. The only locks at this point are probably Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and maybe Kerryon Johnson. The final two spots, if the team decides to keep five running backs, are up for grabs between Jordan Howard, Kenneth Gainwell, Huntley, and Elijah Holyfield.
Huntley has been getting first team reps as the kick/punt returner, so that could ensure a roster spot. We’ll have to see how he does with return duties during the preseason first, though.
Both Jackson and Huntley are two guys everyone should keep an eye on as camp continues to progress.
The next practice will be held at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday evening. It will be the first public practice of the summer.
Eagles-49ers recap, Sirianni’s poor play-calling, Hurts missed throws, Other takeaways, Phillies update – The Pulse of the City Pod
- Eagles-49ers recap, Sirianni’s poor play-calling, Hurts missed throws, Other takeaways, Phillies update
- Eagles-49ers preview, Key matchups, Predictions, “POTC” parlay
- Eagles blow out Falcons 32-6, Hurts shines, Sirianni’s debut, Main takeaways
- Eagles-Falcons preview, Key matchups, “POTC” Parlay debut, Phillies update
- Eagles season preview, NFC East primer, NFC contenders/Super Bowl picks