Eagles practice observations: Carson Wentz's arm strength; Philly Special redux; quarterback golf

The Eagles held the final of three minicamp practices this week on Thursday. The session was open to the media. Here are some observations and notes:

1. Doug Pederson, per usual, dialed it down for the last workout of spring. “Last day of school,” is what tight end Zach Ertz called it, and with the Eagles receiving their Super Bowl rings in the evening, you could see why everyone was anxious to get out of there. The Eagles also practiced at the far end of one field, many yards from where the media was permitted to stand, so today’s notes will be abbreviated and strictly in the form of a running diary.

2. After warmups, the Eagles opened with a brief group install period that involved some red zone trickery. Wide receiver Greg Ward took the direct snap, and before you could say “Philly Special,” the former college quarterback threw back to Nick Foles. The first-team offense later ran a similar version of the play against the defense in team drills, and Ward successfully hit “Philly” Foles. I can’t imagine Ward making the 53-man roster for this reason alone, but I’m not sure that many fans would object to seeing that play produce a touchdown again.

3. Quarterback Nate Sudfeld hit Joshua Perkins on a corner fade for a score. Perkins is on the smaller size for a tight end – 6-foot-3, 233 pounds – but I’ve been impressed with how he’s pulled in contested balls. Quarterback Joe Callahan concluded the set by hitting Rashard Davis on a crosser. Callahan has virtually no shot of making the roster, but he has performed admirably. I’m not being sarcastic when I say he’s been more consistent than Tim Tebow and Matt McGloin when they were merely camp arms. He gives the Eagles probably the best four-man group of quarterbacks in the NFL.

>>READ MORE: Eagles’ Carson Wentz showed progress throughout the spring, ‘live contact’ is his next hurdle

4. In seven-on-seven drills, safety Tre Sullivan broke up a Foles pass intended for tight end Richard Rodgers. There was a light argument between Ertz and linebacker Jordan Hicks during warmups about which side has the advantage in seven-on-sevens. I’ve always thought that it was the offense, because there isn’t a rush, but Ertz fervently claimed it was the defense. The linebackers automatically know to drop because it’s going to be a pass play, and that gives the defense a seven-to-five advantage – four, if you take out the late-releasing running back — in coverage. Let’s call it a toss-up. Snap boy center Ian Park rolled Carson Wentz’s first snap under his arms and had to endure a scolding from Pederson. On the next snap, Wentz hit receiver Shelton Gibson with an anticipation throw just over the goal line.

5. Foles went to Mack Hollins on a comeback route, and cornerback Ronald Darby made an early read and got his arm around the receiver to break up the pass. The nearby official threw a pass-interference flag, and Darby protested. Later, when I asked Darby about the play, he grabbed me as if I was Hollins to simulate what he had done. He nearly knocked me to the ground, and in that moment, I realized again how strong these guys are and how weak I am. I still think he made a clean play. Ertz caught a dig route in front of safety Malcolm Jenkins. He’s good. So is Jenkins, who might be the most intense practice player on the roster.

>>READ MORE: There’s a lot riding on this year for Ronald Darby

6. Wentz dug deep on back-to-back down-the-field throws that probably would have been caught if Alshon Jeffery or Nelson Agholor were the targets, rather than Gibson and Davis. The first was a bullet on a crosser, and Gibson had to stretch for it. He got his hands on it but couldn’t snag it. The second traveled more than 40 yards on a rope into a trash-can-lid bull’s-eye. It reminded me of the kind Michael Vick used to toss effortlessly. Davis reacted too late.

>>READ MORE: The Michael Bennett era begins in Philly

7. Sudfeld floated a pass to receiver Anthony Mahoungou in the corner of the end zone. He tried for Markus Wheaton on the next play, but rookie cornerback Avonte Maddox ran step for step with the receiver, and the pass sailed long. Wheaton rebounded and shook a defender to catch a Wentz dime for a touchdown. Dallas Goedert split wide on about the 5-yard line and was matched up against linebacker Corey Nelson. Wentz tossed a back shoulder, and the rookie tight end slipped Nelson for the score. Goedert is smooth. He had a strong spring.

8. As the Eagles finished the day with some special-teams drills, Wentz jogged to the other end of the field and had a catch with Ertz. Foles, Sudfeld, and Callahan participated in “quarterback golf.” The objective was to hit a target from increasing distances with the fewest number of “strokes.” The target was the crossbar. Callahan was winning before the horn sounded, ending practice.

>>READ MORE: Wednesday’s practice observations