Philadelphia Eagles

10 observations as Eagles begin Round 3 of OTAs

10 observations as Eagles begin Round 3 of OTAs

The Eagles continued their OTA practices in a slight rain Monday morning.

This week, the team practices Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, but media are allowed at just the Monday and Friday practices. 

Next week, the three-day mandatory minicamp begins.

Here are 10 observations from Monday's practice. 

1. Marcus Smith, Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are still not with the team. The trio has missed all of the OTA practices. 

On Monday, Darren Sproles was back after missing some time last week, but LeGarrette Blount (sick) was not on the field. Jordan Matthews (knee) continues to be held out of practice and Mychal Kendricks, who was limited last week with a hamstring injury, wasn't on the field. 

Tim Jernigan sprained his ankle during a team portion of practice and went into the NovaCare Complex building early.

2. The thing everyone always mentions about Alshon Jeffery is his catch radius. He has the ability to make really tough catches and he made one during individual drills Monday: 

3. The play of the day during the team portion of practice came on a long pass from Carson Wentz to Jeffery. Wentz was forced to his left in the pocket and threw across his body for a 35-, 40-yard strike to Jeffery in stride. Those two seem to be building a rapport. 

"It was kind of a broken play," Wentz said. "It was a play-action pass and I just didn't feel comfortable with the routes, they had it covered pretty well. So I just scrambled and made a play. Alshon had really good recognition to take it deep, while Torrey was already kind of in the intermediate area. I just felt confident in giving Alshon a chance and felt confident I could make the throw, so obviously it worked out. We have to see that hopefully on some Sundays." 

And in general, this practice was a much cleaner one for the offense than the last one open to the media. 

4. The best defensive play of the day came on a short pass to Brent Celek. The veteran tight end bobbled the ball just briefly enough that a charging Nigel Bradham was able to snatch it out of his hands and head the other way. (This was the same play where Jernigan got hurt.) 

5. Nelson Agholor was great Monday. He really was. Now, you're probably tired of hearing how good Agholor can be in shorts in early June. For the former first-round pick, it's all about showing it when the games start. With Matthews out of practice Monday, Agholor got a chance to work in the slot again. For whatever reason, the Eagles have been hesitant to use him in this role during the season, but it seems to fit him. 

6. Rough day for rookie wideout Shelton Gibson. He dropped a few balls in the rain and doesn't look as ready as fellow rookie Mack Hollins. I have also seen him try a few moves at the line where he shuffles his feet and almost has them both off the ground at the same time. That will get him knocked on his butt during the season. 

7. At first, when I saw Stefen Wisniewski on the field with the first team, I thought he was getting some reps over Isaac Seumalo at left guard. Nope. The veteran interior lineman was actually lining up in the backfield as a fullback. This is a role that Seumalo had last year, so with Seumalo's starting and with Dillon Gordon out with an undisclosed injury on Monday, it makes sense that Wisniewski needs to prepare at fullback. 

"It's just something we're trying to do, change it up a little bit," Wisniewski said. "Dillon's probably the first guy to do that but he's hurt so I'm getting a couple looks at it. It's definitely different. Anyway I can help the team, I'll do it and it's kind of a fun way to do it." 

8. Terrence Brooks leveled Bryce Treggs during a portion of team practice. It was less of a hit and more of a collision, but it was jarring to watch that type of contact during completely non-contact drills. Sometimes, it just happens. By the way, Brooks had a pretty good day Monday. If you remember, the Eagles added Brooks just before the start of the season off waivers from Baltimore. Last year, he played a mostly special teams role, but it's interesting to wonder if he can supplant Jaylen Watkins as the team's third safety. 

9. I thought it was interesting that defensive tackle Justin Hamilton got some run with the first team when Jernigan went out (Beau Allen is still recovering from injury too). Hamilton went undrafted in 2015 and bounced around from the Bills, Packers to Seahawks before signing a futures deal with the Eagles in January. 

10. The Eagles have been using flags that get driven into the ground instead of cones for drills this offseason. Maybe they were brought here by new receivers coach Mike Groh. The flags are cool because it doesn't allow players to take shortcuts around the cones. They have to get their whole bodies around them. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: While every other player was wearing shorts Monday, tight end Anthony Denham was wearing his game pants. Is it a trend? Does he always do it? Stay tuned later in the week. 

NFL Notes: Supporters hold rally for Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters

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AP Images

NFL Notes: Supporters hold rally for Colin Kaepernick at NFL headquarters

NEW YORK -- Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality against blacks, showed their solidarity with him and his cause at a rally outside the headquarters of the National Football League on Wednesday.

More than 1,000 people, many wearing jerseys bearing Kaepernick's name, crowded the steps outside the NFL's midtown Manhattan offices.

Kaepernick, who once took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, opted out of his contract with the team in March and remains unsigned. Supporters say he is being blackballed for his advocacy, but some critics say he should not have sat or kneeled during the anthem or contend his lack of a job is more about his on-field talent.

Chants at the demonstration included "Boycott! Boycott!" Women's March organizer Tamika Mallory, addressing football fans, said, "I don't care how long you've been watching football, if they don't stand up for your children, turn the damn TV off."

Political commentator Symone Sanders said, "We are all standing with Kaepernick. It is time for the NFL to put up or shut up" (see full story).

Browns: Kizer to start at QB in 3rd preseason game
BEREA, Ohio -- Rookie DeShone Kizer is Cleveland's new starting quarterback.

Coach Hue Jackson has elected to go with Kizer, a second-round pick from Notre Dame, over veterans Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. Kizer has been the most consistent of the three during training camp and led the Browns to three touchdowns during his two exhibition appearances.

Jackson said Kizer will start Saturday's exhibition in Tamp Bay and "is certainly positioning himself well to earn the starting job heading into the regular season."

The Browns open the season on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh.

Unless he stumbles against the Buccaneers, Kizer will be the 27th different quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999. The big-armed 21-year-old has shown no signs of being intimidated by the jump to the pros after making 23 starts in two seasons for the Fighting Irish (see full story).

Raiders: Pro Bowl LT Penn ends holdout
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn has ended his holdout with the Oakland Raiders.

Penn reported for practice on Wednesday, ending his 26-day holdout. Penn was looking for an improved contract but general manager Reggie McKenzie said earlier in training camp that he would not negotiate a new deal with Penn until he arrived at camp.

The Raiders could have fined Penn $40,000 for each day of camp he missed but the team is not expected to do that.

Penn is entering the final year of an $11.9 million, two-year contract. He is scheduled to earn $5.8 million in base salary this season with another $1.3 million in incentives and bonuses (see full recap).

Steelers: Star RB Bell hints at return date
PITTSBURGH -- Steelers star Le'Veon Bell has suggested on Twitter that he will return to the team on Sept. 1, the day after Pittsburgh's final preseason game.

Bell hasn't signed his franchise tender and has been holding out through training camp. Responding to a fan Tuesday night asking when he plans to end his holdout, Bell wrote: "9-1-17" and added a wink.

The franchise tender offered Bell will guarantee him $12.1 million for the upcoming season. The two-time Pro Bowl running back has been seeking a long-term deal.

Bell rushed for 1,268 yards and seven touchdowns last season and also caught 75 passes for 616 yards and two TDs.

Redskins: Reed makes on-field debut at practice
ASHBURN, Va. -- Jordan Reed is back at practice with the Washington Redskins.

The 27-year-old tight end made his on-field debut Wednesday after missing almost the first month of practices with a toe injury. Reed missed the team's first two preseason games and was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Sunday.

Reed was examined by a foot specialist Aug. 1 and recently started using wider shoes and orthotics to help alleviate the soreness in the big toe on his left foot. Last week he said it felt better when running routes and walking around and doesn't expect the injury to affect him during the season.

One of quarterback Kirk Cousins' most consistent and effective targets, Reed had 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns last season despite missing four games with injury (see full story).

Giants: OL Bowie waived after domestic charges disclosed 
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have waived Michael Bowie days after finding out that the offensive lineman had been charged with assault and battery in Oklahoma.

The Giants announced the decision Wednesday along with three moves.

The team learned of the charges on Saturday and did not allow the 25-year-old free agent to make the trip to Cleveland for a preseason game against the Browns on Monday night.

Bowie is accused of grabbing his girlfriend by the neck during a fight at her home in Bixby, Oklahoma, then broke two televisions and punched a hole in the wall.

Court records don't list an attorney for Bowie, a Tulsa resident. His agent says Bowie is working to prove his innocence, saying there was no physical contact with the girlfriend.

New York also waived offensive linemen Corin Brooks, and waived/injured wideouts Darius Powe and Andrew Turzilli (see full story).

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman heading to Saints

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USA Today Images

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman heading to Saints

Former Eagles special teamer Bryan Braman has agreed to terms to join the New Orleans Saints on a one-year deal, according to his agent Sean Stellato. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the deal. 

Braman, 30, spent the last three seasons with the Eagles and played a major role on Dave Fipp's unit, which has been considered one of the top in the NFL during that span. He had been a free agent throughout the spring and summer after his contract ran out with the Eagles. 

Braman came to Philadelphia as a free agent from the Texans before the 2014 season on a two-year deal and later restructured his contract to take a pay cut and give him an extra year in Philly. 

While Braman rarely made it on the field for the defense in those next three seasons, he played a total of 1,214 special teams snaps, the most of any player on the team. He played in all 48 games over the last three seasons. 

Even without Braman, the Eagles still have plenty of key special teams players like Chris Maragos, Najee Goode and Kamu Grugier-Hill.