Carson Wentz

Eagles-Dolphins practice 10 observations: Alshon Jeffery's big day

USA Today Images

Eagles-Dolphins practice 10 observations: Alshon Jeffery's big day

Training camp is technically over, but the Dolphins are in town for two joint practices before Thursday's preseason game at the Linc.

The Eagles and Dolphins held a lengthy pre-solar eclipse practice under the full power of the sun on Monday morning into the afternoon.

Here are 10 observations from the joint session:

1. *Clears throat* injuries: Brandon Graham and Jordan Hicks left early on Monday. No word about Hicks yet, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Graham suffered a strained tricep that wasn't considered serious. With Graham inside, rookie Derek Barnett took first-team reps at left defensive end. And second-year player Joe Walker filled in for Hicks because Najee Goode wasn't practicing, either.

Barnett returned to practice on Monday after missing Sunday with what Doug Pederson called a "lower-body injury."

2. Plenty of notable folks came out to watch practice today: Charles Barkley, Marvin Harrison, Freddie Mitchell, Stephen Tulloch.

Tulloch, who spent last season with the Eagles, retired this offseason. He's enjoying his retirement but was happy to check out practice on Monday. He owes a lot to Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and Dolphins DC Matt Burke, the latter of whom was with Tulloch in Tennessee and Detroit also.

3. Carson Wentz got a ton of reps on Monday because the Dolphins didn't come all the way here to practice against themselves. He went to Alshon Jeffery a ton on Monday during 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s. Jeffery had one of his best days of the summer.

"He's very physical," Byron Maxwell said of Alshon Jeffery. "Getting off the line, you definitely need that too. Philadelphia, they've got three different receivers that can do different things. You've got [Torrey Smith] that can take you deep. Jeffery is a guy that can use his body well."

The best ball Wentz threw all day, though, came on a deep pass to Torrey Smith, who beat old friend Maxwell for a touchdown.

A couple plays later, Wentz hit Jeffery for a touchdown after Maxwell was beaten again. On that one, it looked like Maxwell might have expected safety help that never came.

4. Maxwell and Kiko Alonso had rough returns to their old practice fields. Maxwell was beaten for three touchdowns, two to Smith and one to Jeffery, while Alonso was beaten on a quick pass to Darren Sproles near the goal line.

5. If you were hoping to hear about fights or chippy play between the two teams on Monday, it didn't really happen. The closest it got was when Malcolm Jenkins and Kenny Stills jawed a little bit after a completed pass to Stills from Jay Cutler. Nothing came of it. Although, Jenkins is the odds-on favorite to get in a fight from the Eagles' defensive players. For the offense, Jason Kelce gets the nod.

6. Cutler had a pretty good day against the Eagles' defense. After practice, the quarterback who the Dolphins lured out of retirement said he feels pretty rested after joining the team late, looked like it. He was whizzing footballs into his receivers. He kept finding Jarvis Landry in the end zone during red zone work.

7. The Eagles ran a fake field goal on Monday! Donnie Jones took the snap from Jon Dorenbos and rolled right before hitting Brent Celek. It worked!

8. Nick Foles has looked really good since coming back from his elbow injury. It's almost shocking how much better than Matt McGloin he is. On Monday, he kept connecting with Trey Burton. That could be something to watch if Foles ever plays in a game this season.

9. Nelson Agholor made a great catch with a Dolphins defender blanketing him. It was probably the catch of the day.

10. Wentz's arm isn't showing any signs of fatigue after a long summer. He absolutely threw a rocket to Mack Hollins. The laser of a throw made a loud sound as it collided with Hollins, who went to the ground to catch it. It was a perfect throw where only Hollins could get it.

Stupid Observation of the Day: Yes, Kiko Alonso was of course rocking a crop top on Monday.

Eagles set to welcome Dolphins for 'intense' joint practices this week

Eagles set to welcome Dolphins for 'intense' joint practices this week

According to Eagles rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins, the coaches have laid down a few rules for the team’s joint practices with the Miami Dolphins, which run Monday through Wednesday.

“The ground rules are pretty basic, same rules as if it was in a game,” Hollins said. “Don’t act a fool, don’t fight, basically don’t do stuff you wouldn’t do in a game.”

That might sound simple on paper, but several Eagles players acknowledged there tends to be a different level of competitiveness when another team shares the field.

“It’s always intense when you have new people you’re going against,” defensive end Steven Means said. “It’s just like the first day of practice, so I’m pretty sure it’ll be cranked up a bit.”

The Eagles last held a joint practice two years ago, when the Baltimore Ravens visited Philadelphia. (The Eagles won that week’s game, 40-17). That means Monday will be Carson Wentz’s first time practicing against another team.

“I’m excited for them to come up,” Wentz said. “In training camp, you're going against your own team for so long, practices just get to be long and you start to figure out each other a little bit.”

Wentz’s big target, Alshon Jeffery, who has missed substantial time practicing against his teammates, is looking forward to facing the Dolphins.

“It’s a good chance to see where we’re at, just bond, build team chemistry,” Jeffery said. “Just keep working and keep competing.”

Jeffery mentioned he’s glad he’ll have the opportunity to catch up with new Dolphin Jay Cutler, his quarterback for the first five years of his career.

Despite the time he’s spent on the sidelines, Jeffery insisted Sunday he doesn’t think he’s behind (see story).

While adding the caveat he never places too much weight on how he performs during the preseason, fellow wide receiver Torrey Smith is as eager as his offensive teammates to take on a different defense.

“It’s some of the best competition we can get,” Smith said. “It’s like a game, just not hitting each other.”

Once the three days of practice conclude, the Eagles and Dolphins will finally be able to tackle each other Thursday night under the lights of Lincoln Financial Field.

Alshon Jeffery doesn't feel behind after missing time during Eagles camp

Alshon Jeffery doesn't feel behind after missing time during Eagles camp

On Saturday afternoon, Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh said he thought big free-agent pickup Alshon Jeffery was a little behind after missing time this training camp.

Jeffery doesn't agree.

"Not at all," Jeffery said Sunday. "But at the same time, missing a few practices here and there just getting some timing down — I'll be all right."

Jeffery missed considerable time this summer, first with a shoulder injury and then because Doug Pederson used his "discretion" to hold the star receiver out of practice.

After missing practice time, Jeffery also missed the first preseason game in Green Bay. He did play Thursday night against the Bills with mixed results. He caught a couple passes for 23 yards but also made some mistakes.

"I think he's behind," Groh said Saturday. "Anytime you miss the amount of time he did. He's a little bit behind but fortunately, we have time for him to catch up on all that. I thought they got off to a good start the other night."

On one play in particular, instead of running a corner route, Jeffery ran an out. Similar … but not the same. Groh said it was Jeffery's responsibility to know the route but said in a non-game plan week, the team probably didn't practice it. And it was possible Jeffery's missed time led to the mix-up.

On Sunday, Jeffery just saw it as a mistake.

"It's the game of football," he said. "Every once in a while you're going to run a wrong route, make some mistakes on a few plays. But I'll be all right."

The most important thing for Jeffery over the next three weeks before the start of the regular season is building his chemistry with Carson Wentz. While the two have been together now since the spring and Jeffery went to North Dakota with the other receivers, there's still a feeling-out process going on.

Groh said there's not a normal amount of time for quarterbacks and receivers to get on the same page, but did note Wentz and Jeffery take extra reps together during special teams periods in an attempt to catch-up.

A big part of Jeffery's game is timing routes like fades. When asked if it takes even longer to build chemistry with a receiver like that, Groh had a different theory.  

"I think it may take less time with really good players," he said. "They just kind of have a feel for each other. One of the things that has helped Alshon be a productive player, I think his body language is very easy to read and judge for quarterbacks. When he and Carson get out here and Carson starts to learn that body language, where he likes the ball, with the accuracy Carson can throw with, it'll probably work out well."

For the next two days, Jeffery will get a chance to look across the field to the other sideline and see a guy who he once built that chemistry with. Jay Cutler, who was Jeffery's QB in Chicago, is now the starter for the Dolphins, who will be in town for two joint practices in advance of Thursday's game at the Linc.

Jeffery said it'll be a little weird to see Cutler, but he's looking forward to catching up with his old teammate, whom he played with from 2012 through last season.

How long did it take for him and Cutler to forge chemistry?

"Over time and over years," Jeffery said. "We were together for a long time so when we'd line up, I'd know what he wants and he knows what I like. It takes time over years. We'd been together five years."

A staple of the Chicago offense with Cutler and Jeffery were back-shoulder throws, ones that can be completed only when the quarterback and receiver are in sync.

Eventually, the Eagles hope Wentz and Jeffery will get them down too.

"In time. In due time," Jeffery said. "Each and every practice we get better. In due time, it'll get better."