Eagles practice observations: Eagles defensive line dominates; Nelson Agholor up and down

Eagle defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, #91, center, walks, with his teammates, to a field where the team will stretch before practice begins on Tuesday. practiced on Tuesday, aftere being out diue to injury. Philadelphia Eagles hold training camp on Tuesday August 15, 2017. 08/15/2017 MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

The Eagles held the second of two joint practices with the Dolphins on Tuesday. The players were in shorts, there was limited contact, and the workout lasted about two hours. (Training camp is formally over, but here are links to observations from Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20). Here’s what I saw, again, in the form of a running diary:

1. Let’s get the injury updates out of the way first: Wide receiver Bryce Treggs (calf) and linebacker Najee Goode (quadriceps) were back at practice. Receiver Paul Turner (shoulder) and offensive lineman Josh Andrews (hand) were still out. Defensive end Brandon Graham and linebacker Jordan Hicks, who left Monday’s session early, were out and watched practice. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said after practice that Graham had an elbow injury, Hicks a quadriceps injury  —  although it has been reported to be a groin injury  —  and that each was day to day. Nick Foles was back on the sidelines. Pederson said that he was giving his backup quarterback a rest day after he threw a considerable amount the previous two days. While the coach said that he had yet to decide if Foles would play in Thursday night’s third preseason game, Foles later said he wouldn’t play.

2. Graham and Hicks are unlikely to play against the Dolphins on Thursday. Most regulars don’t play in the fourth preseason game, so they probably won’t play live football until the opener against the Redskins on Sept. 10. Derek Barnett is likely to start in two days. He has been filling in for Graham at left defensive end. When Vinny Curry left practice after cramping  —  it may have been the hottest day of camp  —  Barnett slid over to his side and Chris Long jumped up to the first team. The rookie had what looked like another strong practice. He has already shown that he can pass rush at this level, but on Tuesday he shined in the running game, twice “stopping” Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi in the backfield. If there was one unit on either side of the ball that stood out most for the Eagles, it was their defensive line. Defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Tim Jernigan often had their way against Miami’s line  —  on both days. It should be noted that the Dolphins have had several injuries up front and their offensive line wasn’t considered a strength even before the losses.

3. Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler had a rough start during seven-on-seven drills. Safety Rodney McLeod, who has quietly had a strong camp, showed range when he came over and broke up a sideline pass to receiver Kenny Stills. Receiver Jarvis Landry got behind Patrick Robinson out of the slot, but Cutler’s toss was too far. There was a fair amount of trash talking going on between Eagles cornerbacks and Dolphins receivers. Most of it was playful. Landry and slot corner Ron Brooks went back and forth, but they go back to their LSU days. Safety Jaylen Watkins made an over-the-shoulder interception when Miami backup quarterback Matt Moore overshot tight end Thomas Duarte.

4. I switched fields and caught some of the Eagles offense vs. the Dolphins defense. Halapoulivaati Vaitai continued to take some snaps at left tackle whenever Jason Peters needed a rest. Carson Wentz hit Nelson Agholor in stride down the seam, but his slot receiver dropped the ball even though it hit him in between the numbers. Agholor has been up-and-down since his strong camp start. With Foles out, Matt McGloin took most of the second-team snaps under center. When I showed up, he had a pass batted down at the line. His next toss was a beauty, though, as he hit Treggs downfield on a crosser.

5. The full squads converged on one field and took turns with each of their units. The Dolphins offense was up first. Cox got to Ajayi early on first down. Cutler overthrew tight end Julius Thomas and safety Malcolm Jenkins nearly had a pick, but he trapped the ball. Long “sacked” Cutler. And on “fourth down,” Cutler dropped and held, held, held the ball forever  —  he typically wouldn’t have had this much time  —  before he threw at cornerback Jalen Mills, who knocked the ball away. A good series for Jim Schwartz’s defensive unit.


Is the Eagles’ offensive line well-stocked going into the season?

6. Wentz and the Eagles offense were next up. They looked sharp. Wentz completed his first four pass attempts  —  hitting Agholor underneath short, tight end Zach Ertz for a first down, Agholor again out of the slot on a contested ball and Ertz for another sideline grab beyond the sticks. Wentz tried to hit receiver Marcus Johnson on his back shoulder, but the timing was off and the ball sailed wide. A play later, he went back to the back shoulder, but this time to receiver Alshon Jeffery, who made the easy catch. After a short pass to Ertz, the Eagles faced third down around the 20-yard line. The Dolphins zero blitzed and Wentz lofted a pass off his back foot to a streaking-downfield Ertz. The pass was too long, though.

7. Did I mention how hot it was? Ike Reese, who was standing nearby, summed it up best (I think): “Sweating like a Milk Dud.” The Dolphins offense returned and Barnett dropped into coverage on a zone blitz. He looked rather comfortable moving in space. Cutler then hit receiver DeVante Parker for about 15 yards in front of Jenkins. It looked like the Eagles were in a quarters zone. Linebacker Nigel Bradham had what should have been a sack when he blitzed through the “A” gap. Defensive end Steven Means had a false start on an earlier play that drew a rebuke from his coaches, but he made up for it with run stops that would have been tackles for loss and a “sack” of Moore.

8. The teams split fields once again, so I watched the Eagles defense for the last set of plays. Cutler had a good finish. He hit Kenny Stills for a “touchdown” when his receiver split a deep zone. He lofted a high and outside toss to Landry after he beat Robinson to the sideline. And after the Eagles secondary forced Cutler to eat a play, he hooked up with 83-year-old Anthony Fasano  —  not really, he’s 33  —  for a touchdown after the tight end got behind Bradham.

9. And a few leftovers … Goode filled in for Hicks at middle linebacker and Joe Walker dropped back to the second team. … Rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas kept two short passes in front of him. … Former Colts receiver and renowned North Philly bar owner Marvin Harrison and former Eagles receiver Jason Avant were among those in attendance. … Tuesday was the last full practice open to the media this year.

[The roster implications of the Eagles’ Matt Tobin trade | David Murphy]