Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles practice at 9:15 a.m. today. Doug Pederson has a post-practice news conference. Carson Wentz and Nick Foles are also expected to meet with reporters.
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
The Eagles' most notable competitions for significant playing time are on defense. They need to determine a starting weak-side linebacker, a slot cornerback, and also figure out a defensive tackle rotation while Tim Jernigan is on the mend. So there have been eyes on who's lining up where through the first few days of training camp.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz did his best to pour cold water on any ideas that could come from practice, though. He emphasized he hasn't made any determinations about what the depth chart will be come Sept. 6.
"Just way too early," Schwartz said speaking about weak-side linebacker. "We have a lot of different guys that have different strengths that we can melt into the scheme. That's what training camp is all about is those guys sort of proving that they can be used in one of those roles. That's something that's going [to] be a long time before it's really worked through, probably not by the first couple preseason games, but maybe after that. It's still going to be open-ended once we get to our 53, 46."
In fact, Jordan Hicks took some outside linebacker snaps during the first few days with Joe Walker at middle linebacker. Schwartz said the Eagles were just cross-training their players. Hicks will be the middle linebacker this season.
When discussing slot cornerback, Schwartz noted that "you [can] write the same article about different positions." Even on the defensive line, Schwartz said that the Eagles are going slow with veteran newcomers Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata. So even though Bennett has been on the left side and Ngata has been with the second team, it's too soon to read much into those players' standing.
"We really don't operate with depth charts," Schwartz said of training camp. "We try to rotate guys through as much as we can. So you'll see different combinations. But those are probably two guys that we're taking a different approach with just because they're new to the scheme, new to the team."
This doesn't preclude me from making predictions, though. I think the Eagles eventually decide to play their three best cornerbacks in the nickel formation – Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, and Sidney Jones – and move Mills from the outside to the slot in those situations. Darby and Jones would play on the outside.
At weak-side linebacker, I've thought the job would go to Corey Nelson ever since Mychal Kendricks' release. I'll stand by that prediction at this point, but I could be convinced on Kamu Grugier-Hill or Nate Gerry. That job is wide open.
At defensive tackle, I think Ngata starts (if Jernigan begins the season on thenon-football injury list) and Destiny Vaeao takes a notable chunk of snaps. At third safety, I still expect the Eagles to add a veteran.
After an off day on Monday, the Eagles returned to practice on Tuesday for the first session with live contact this summer. Carson Wentz did not participate in 11-on-11 drills, which was noteworthy because his activity was scaled back during Sunday's practice, too. That marked two consecutive practices without 11-on-11 work after he participated in those drills during the first three practices.
Pederson and Wentz both speak after Wednesday's practice, so there will be more information then. It might have been as simple as the Eagles not wanting Wentz in the drills when there was live contact because even though the quarterbacks are off limits, there are still bodies flying around and it's possible for a player to roll underneath Wentz or a collide with him. Maybe this was the schedule all along – Pederson said the Eagles have a weekly plan for Wentz. But pay attention to updates on Wednesday, because Wentz's status is the biggest training camp story.
Don't interpret the inactivity as Wentz sitting out practice, though. He was involved in other drills. In fact, after an 11-on-11 period, Wentz was the first quarterback with his helmet on jogging over to a different field for individual work. So he didn't appear to have any type of setback that limited him from practicing.
On a lighter note, rookie tight end Dallas Goedert sang in front of the team at a meeting this week. It did not go well. (NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark captured this Instagram Live post from Tre Sullivan.)
"Terrible," Goedert said. "Don't quit my day job."
Goedert sang "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns 'N Roses. He chose it because of a scene from the movie "Step Brothers."
"Thought it would be an easy one to go with," Goedert said. "Wasn't that easy."
Goedert said his teammates haven't made fun of him too much. They felt bad for him.
"I think I was so bad that people looked the other way," Goedert said. "I think they know I know I can't sing."
Goedert said the best rookie performer has been tackle Jordan Mailata, who demonstrated his talent to the team website on Tuesday.