Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz might be the Eagles coach most looking forward to Thursday's preseason opener at home against the Steelers.

The most important elements of defense, Schwartz said Monday, are hard to get a measure of in training camp.

"Biggest thing is communication and tackling," Schwartz said, when asked what he needs to see. "We see a lot of stuff from these guys on the field, but we have very few chances to tackle live. You want to see that, see guys finishing to the quarterback.

"I mean, it's hard to rush in training camp when you're not trying to hit the quarterback. You finish a rush [in a game] by laying out and trying to knock the ball away or trying to power through, and we don't do that in training camp. See those guys finish rushes, to see guys finish tackles.

"It's one thing to say, 'Yeah, I would have had it.' Well, guess what, [the blockers and quarterbacks are] good players too. And then communication. You get into a stadium, it gets loud. I thought that was a benefit for us [Sunday night during the public practice at Lincoln Financial Field] of just so many young guys understanding the home crowd."

Speaking of that public practice, Schwartz was asked about the 40,000 fans and their impact.

"Took a long time to get home," he joked. But Schwartz acknowledged the boost players got.

 "Training camp is tough. You go out and it can get monotonous playing against the same guys. Sort of just keep repping the same things. You go over to The Linc, and you get a little different vibe. Players can feed off of that energy … It was really cool. When they started, all the sections started competing, I generally don't even hear the crowd. You're focused in. But that's one time I did. They were all competing doing the Eagles chant. That was a real special moment for our young guys to see how much the fans are behind [the team], to see the enthusiasm. They'll see it Thursday night, but that gave them a good taste of what they're going to get."


Michael Bennett said he got to speak with the Rev. Jesse Jackson at the Eagles' public practice. He said he and the former North Carolina A&T quarterback didn't discuss protests, just talked "about life." … Wideout Shelton Gibson returned to practice Monday after being cleared from the concussion protocol.