Eagles Practice Observations: Darby with the first team; Burton one-hands it; Jeffery does something!

The Eagles continued training camp on Sunday. Here’s what I saw from Day 16 (and here are links to Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,  and 15):

Head coach Doug Pederson held another 2½-hour practice in full pads. There weren’t any “live” periods, but it was another grueling workout. Practices have been scheduled down to the minute for months, so I don’t believe Pederson was “punishing” his squad. But he certainly had enough leeway to ease off the gas if he so chose. The Eagles, overall, didn’t perform well in the preseason opener and their first practice on Saturday was a sloppy one. But the effort was better on Sunday, I thought. Here’s what I saw, again in the form of a running diary:

  1. Just-acquired cornerback Ronald Darby practiced with the Eagles for the first time. He had to watch Saturday’s session because Jordan Matthews had yet to take and pass his physical with the Bills. But  Darby was tossed right into the fray on Sunday. He ran with the first team at left corner during team drills, while Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson split time on the right. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said after practice that he wasn’t in a hurry to figure out who would start opposite Darby, but it’s clear that Darby isn’t going anywhere – as it should be. I’d imagine it’s only a matter of time until Mills wins the job.


  1. Kicker Caleb Sturgis got some field-goal work in early. Overall, he was 9 of 11. He was good from 33, 34, 36, 39, 41, 44, 48 and 50 yards, but was wide left from 46 yards during his first set. Later, he connected on a 46 yarder, but was wide right from 41. Sturgis has been good, but not as good as he was last year when he easily beat out Cody Parkey. He’s kicked field goals on five days this camp and has made 37 of 45 attempts (82.2 percent). He also hit the right upright from 46 yards out in Green Bay.



Is the Eagles secondary good enough with the addition of Ronald Darby?

  1. The following Eagles were still out: Guard Brandon Brooks (ankle), cornerback Ron Brooks (hamstring), running back Wendell Smallwood (hamstring), tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), wide receiver Bryce Treggs (calf), receiver Paul Turner (shoulder), quarterback Nick Foles (elbow) and offensive lineman Josh Andrews (hand). Andrews, who has been out for two weeks, said that he broke his hand and had surgery. He gets the stitches out this week and hopes to be back soon. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox joined the injured with back spasms. He said that he was fine. Tight end Trey Burton and guard Chance Warmack left Saturday’s practice early for unknown reasons, but both were back in action. Cornerback Aaron Grymes, who was excused Saturday to attend to a personal matter, returned.


  1. Carson Wentz didn’t have his best day. It happens. He couldn’t connect with receiver Mack Hollins and tight end Zach Ertz on the first set of team drills. The quarterback had a rough spell later in the red zone. He chucked a jump ball to Hollins when Darby had him covered. Wentz did make sure to throw it almost out of bounds, though. And he tried the rookie again with a fade, but the ball came up well short and Robinson snagged the interception. Wentz had some solid moments during 11 on 11s, as well. He hit a sliding Nelson Agholor downfield in front of Darby, for instance.


  1. Some bottom-roster bubble players stood out for good and for bad. Defensive tackle Justin Hamilton burst by guard Darrell Greene and stopped running back Corey Clement in the backfield. Receiver Shelton Gibson beat cornerback C.J. Smith outside for a sideline grab. Tight end Adam Zaruba either dropped a Dane Evans pass or couldn’t hang on after safety Corey Graham knocked it away. Graham has practiced well both in coverage and as a run-stopper. He’s not afraid to stick his helmet into a scrum. With Ron Brooks sidelined, Grymes took first team snaps in the slot. Robinson saw some time there, as well. Gordon had a false start.


  1. There’s a period designed for one-on-ones between tight ends and running backs vs. linebackers and safeties in receiving/covering and blocking/rushing drills. The former benefits the receivers — there’s too much space to cover and there is no rush — while the latter benefits the rushers because the blockers can’t cut. Linebacker Jordan Hicks took advantage and faked out Darren Sproles on both his rushes. But Clement did a nice job fending linebacker Joe Walker off. Walker has been relatively quiet during camp. He’s coming back from an ACL injury.


  1. Derek Barnett has carried his performance in the preseason opener over into the next week. The defensive end blew by Gordon and tagged quarterback Matt McGloin for a “sack.” DE Chris Long, on the other side, easily got by Burton for a tackle for loss. Destiny Vaeao took most of the Cox’s reps alongside Tim Jernigan at defensive tackle. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks tipped a McGloin pass downfield, but Burton somehow reached behind him and pulled the ball in with one hand. It may have been the best catch of camp. Corner Tay Glover-Wright ripped a ball from Ertz, who seemed to have control until the pill popped out.


  1. Alshon Jeffery, who has been injury-free for weeks, was limited again. He spends large portions of practice just watching because he doesn’t participate in team and special teams drills. He did partake in seven-on-sevens for the second straight day. Wentz failed to hook up with the receiver on Saturday, but he went to Jeffery deep on the first play. I don’t know if Wentz wanted the ball to fall short, but it did and Jeffery came back after Darby got tangled up with his feet and made the catch. The 6-foot-3 receiver made it look ho-hum.


  1. Later during seven-on-sevens, Wentz tried for Ertz in the end zone, but safety Malcolm Jenkins came over and knocked the pass to the turf. He then picked the ball up and spiked it. Wentz rebounded and found tight end Brent Celek over the middle for a “touchdown.” Cornerback Rasul Douglas bit on a Hollins double move and was beat deep. Darby had tight coverage on Ertz when Wentz, after a play-action bootleg, was forced to throw the ball at his receiver’s cleats.


  1. A few leftovers … Kendricks, who didn’t appear to appreciate an aggressive Jason Kelce pull block a few moments earlier, tipped another pass during practice. … Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill popped the unsuspecting Donnel Pumphrey to the ground during team drills. The diminutive running back popped back up instantly, though.