BEREA, Ohio — These last two joint practices against the Browns are why Nick Sirianni believes in them so much.
The Eagles and Browns were pretty even on Thursday but the Eagles were clearly better on Friday as the practice session shifted into the red zone.
While the Eagles are sticking around in Cleveland for their preseason game on Sunday, don’t expect to see the starters playing in that one. Still, there will be plenty of youngsters ready for all those snaps.
Let’s get to Day 14 observations:
1. As always, housekeeping:
• Did not practice on Friday: James Bradberry (groin), Miles Sanders (hamstring), Javon Hargrave (toe), Jason Kelce (elbow), Greg Ward (toe), Christian Elliss (hamstring).
• While head coach Nick Sirianni avoids any timetable talk, word is that the Eagles expect Sanders and Hargrave back for Week 1. They’re just being cautious. Bradberry, meanwhile, is day to day.
• Limited: Grant Calcaterra (hamstring) returned to practice for the first time since July 30. Sirianni admitted Calcaterra is obviously behind, but it was good to see the rookie tight end return to the field.
2. AJ Brown had the catch of the day during early 11-on-11. As the Eagles worked in the red zone, Jalen Hurts lofted up a pass for Brown, who outmuscled Browns corner Greedy Williams, wrestling the ball away from him as Williams was tossed to the ground. As Brown stood over Williams, he stared him down. Absolute posterization.
Not to be outdone, Dallas Goedert won a 50-50 ball over safety D’Anthony Bell in the end zone just a few minutes later.
Brown and Goedert have been the most reliable targets for Hurts this summer and it’s important to note how much Hurts seems to trust them, especially with these jump balls. A big criticism of Hurts is that he’ll only throw to receivers who are wide open. But if he has trust in these guys in practice, perhaps he’ll be willing to trust them in games too.
3. Aside from that play when Goedert Moss’d a safety, he had an impressive one-handed grab on a perfectly executed screen pass. On that play, it was fun to watch rookie Cam Jurgens get out in front. The rookie from Nebraska had a block about 15 yards downfield.
4. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett returned to practice on Friday after missing several days due to a personal matter. While Garrett did not participate in team drills, he did go in 1-on-1s against Jordan Mailata twice. On the first one, Garrett had an impressive bullrush to push Mailata deep into the pocket. Mailata said that one was a win.
That was supposed to be all they did, but Mailata asked Garrett to go once more. On the second rep, Garrett tried a speed rush around the edge and Mailata used his strength and quickness to widen Garrett’s path well wide of the quarterback. That was a Mailata win, so they finished 1-1. It was great work.
Also, during a team drill, Mailata had a great block to spring Boston Scott on a run up the gut. OL coach Jeff Stoutland started yelling, saying that play would be on their teaching tape.
5. Even without Hargrave, the Eagles’ defensive line was a wrecking crew on Friday against a pretty good offensive line. Late in practice, Haason Reddick was victimizing Browns tackle James Hudson III. After a summer dealing with Lane Johnson, it’s fun to watch Reddick unleashed against other tackles.
Another guy who had a great period in the team-wide competition at the end was rookie Kyron Johnson. Johnson hasn’t flashed a ton in his rookie training camp but had a sack on Deshaun Watson (working with the second team) and pressured him out of the pocket on another.
The other three players who really impressed on the line were Josh Sweat, Jordan Davis and Tarron Jackson. Sweat had a couple “sacks” on Friday. Davis, simply put, is a problem inside. He showed that in 1-on-1s. And Jackson is a completely different player in Year 2. I was watching the Eagles’ offense on Friday but every time I glanced at the far field at their defense, Jackson was in the backfield.
6. Rough end to this practice from second-year running back Kenny Gainwell, who has been struggling some recently. The relatively sure-handed Gainwell had another drop. This one came in the middle of the field in the red zone. Just can’t happen. Then right after, Sirianni was loudly yelling at Gainwell for messing up his assignment.
7. The Eagles used a ton of read-options in this practice and it’s fun to watch how comfortable Hurts is with these plays. Sometimes he pulls the ball or hands it off at the last possible moment.
A note on these plays: While Johnson pretty much handled Jadeveon Clowney in pass protection, Clowney was wrecking run plays. He has such a long first step that he was in the backfield so quickly. It led to Sirianni jokingly asking Clowney to stop ruining their plays.
8. Reid Sinnett got a few second-team reps on Friday but didn’t make the most of them. He missed a wide open Britain Covey and the offense looked a little disjointed with him in there. But don’t worry about Sinnett losing that No. 3 jobs. Carson Strong finally got some reps and didn’t look sharp. On one play, he showed off his cannon of an arm but fired a bullet to no one in particular that struck a large pad in the back of the end zone. It’s been a rough camp for the rookie from Nevada.
9. The Eagles back end made plenty of plays on Friday. Kyzir White had an interception and was made at himself when he dropped another. He’s an excellent cover linebacker. And then Marcus Epps and Darius Slay had huge pass breakups in the most competitive period in practice. Epps had a diving PBU on a pass targeted for tight end Harrison Bryant. And then a few plays later, Slay batted down a ball intended for Amari Cooper. On that play, Cooper was open but the pass from Jacoby Brissett was late and Slay closed super fast.
10. Scary moment for Calcaterra in his first practice back from a hamstring injury:
Stupid Observation of the Day: Since the Browns practice in Berea, Ohio, the Eagles used the locker room at FirstEnergy Stadium to dress before practice. They then took buses from downtown Cleveland to the Browns’ practice facility, about 25 minutes away. By the time the Eagles got there, they had to use the bathroom. So each day there were about 20 NFL players lining up to enter one of those trailer porta potties before practice. It looked like Sirianni took his class on a field trip.
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