Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles held their first training camp practice on Thursday and they're back on the practice field at 9:15 a.m. today. They'll practice again Saturday and Sunday, and will begin wearing pads on Saturday. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a news conference after practice — likely around 11:35 a.m.
This is a training camp edition of the Early Birds newsletter, which will arrive in your inbox three days per week until the season begins. If your friends haven't subscribed to Early Birds, it's free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm. Thank you for reading.
— Zach Berman
Nick Foles was the No. 1 quarterback at training camp on Thursday, but he's not really the No. 1 quarterback. He's the Super Bowl MVP, but if the Eagles had their way, he won't start their season.
Much has been written about how unusual the situation is for Foles that it was worth wondering how Foles views his role. He was clearly the backup at this time one year ago. Circumstances have changed – both with Carson Wentz's health and Foles' standing in the league.
This is not to say there's a quarterback controversy. It's clear that Wentz is the starter when healthy. It just means Foles is different than a typical backup quarterback, and even he admitted it's hard to find the right label for him.
"My role doesn't really change," Foles said. "Last year going into camp, I wanted to impact everyone where I was, whatever you want to label me. That doesn't change this year. No one knows my label. It's sort of been that way for a long time. I've said it before: I don't really care. I know that I love my teammates, I love this city, I playing for these coaches. And whatever they need of me, I'm going to give them everything I got. And that's how I play the game. You don't need to say, 'Hey, you're the starter, you're the backup.' You're going to get me. It's not going to affect me. If that affects me, I've probably got some issue I've got to deal with."
Expect to hear similar answers from Foles throughout the summer and into the season. He's not going to create a controversy, and he understands the situation he's in. He must prepare to start Week 1 in case Wentz is not healthy, and he also wouldn't want to do anything to hurt his value if he becomes a free agent next offseason. But it's rare to have a backup quarterback of Foles' status.
"I think going through everything in my career, all the ups and downs and crazy curves along the way, [has] prepared me for this moment," Foles said. "Just the perspective of the game. Going into this facility with the mindset that it is a blessing every day. And just keeping it loose, not letting things get to me."
The biggest story from Thursday was Wentz taking part in 11-on-11 drills – a clear sign of progress. Wentz said the next (and last) benchmark is being cleared for contact. It was a light practice on Thursday, so it did not simulate what Wentz would see in a real game. But the progress only fortifies the notion that it's realistic for Wentz to start in the Sept. 6 season opener. He's cleared every hurdle throughout the offseason. There haven't been any apparent setbacks, and Wentz looks good six weeks out from opening night. It's obviously going to come down to what the medical staff says about the knee, but don't bet against him playing right now.
Elsewhere on the injury front, it was a good day for the Eagles. Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, and Darren Sproles were back from season-ending injuries. All appear on track to play the season opener. Haloti Ngata practiced after missing the spring. It's not surprising that Brandon Graham and Alshon Jeffery were placed on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Their injuries were expected to linger into training camp. Same with Tim Jernigan, who's on the non-football injury list. There were no huge surprises. Chris Maragos is still unable to practice and Bryce Treggs emerged on the non-football injury list. But Peters, Hicks, and Sproles were players who did more on Thursday than in the spring. That was a good sign.
I don't see the Eagles trading Nick Foles. First of all, I truly believe they want him on the roster – the Eagles are Super Bowl contenders and have a quarterback coming off a torn ACL. Even if Carson Wentz is ready for Week 1, the Eagles want the insurance. They've started a backup quarterback in eight of the past nine seasons. That shows the position's value.