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. 

Report: Eagles work weight incentive into LeGarrette Blount's contract

Report: Eagles work weight incentive into LeGarrette Blount's contract

The Eagles' biggest back might be getting a bit smaller in the coming weeks.

According to a tweet from ESPN's Field Yates, LeGarrette Blount has an incentive in his contract with the Eagles that will net him $50,000 if he weighs in between 240 and 245 pounds when the team reports for training camp on July 24. Blount's one-year deal carries a $1.25 million cap, including a $900,000 base salary as well as a $200,000 signing bonus.

Currently, the Eagles' website lists the two-time Super Bowl champion running back at 6-foot, 250 pounds — at least 30 pounds heavier than any back currently on the roster. 

When asked how much he weighs at an introductory press conference last month, Blount responded, "The weight I need to be at."

Weight clauses have become more and more common, especially with running backs. Seattle's Eddie Lacy earned $55,000 in May when he tipped the scales at 255 pounds (or fewer) and the Seahawks' bruising back will have the chance to earn another $330,000 over the course of six more weigh-ins through the end of the regular season.

The same goes for Atlanta defensive lineman Dontari Poe, who could bank as much as $500,000 in bonuses if he slims down to 330 pounds from his listed 346 pounds.

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Eagles have NFL's best offensive line, according to Pro Football Focus

Thanks to Lane Johnson’s suspension and a few injuries, the Eagles' offensive line unit wasn’t what most expected it to be in 2016. Should things go according to plan on the O-line in 2017, expectations are high. For Pro Football Focus, they’re as high as it gets.

PFF ranked the Eagles’ O-line No. 1 in the entire league heading into this season, citing the fact that it has the “fewest holes.”

Center Jason Kelce is considered their biggest question mark, but even though his abilities have faded a bit with age, he hasn’t missed a snap in two seasons. That has to count for something.

Allen Barbre and second-year Eagle Brandon Brooks, who allowed just one sack last season, complete the line’s interior. Then, of course, the tackle tandem of Jason Peters and Lane Johnson is hard to beat. PFF says Johnson, when on the field, was the best right tackle last season. Johnson would agree.

Even beyond the first-team unit, the Eagles have experience. Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo both saw unexpected snaps as rookies last season because of the reshuffling. That should help moving forward.

Rounding out PFF’s top three are the Browns and Steelers. Cleveland boosted its corps by signing J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. The Steelers had the best unit during the second half of last season.

More notably for Eagles fans, the Cowboys come in at No. 9 in PFF’s rankings after owning one of the league’s best O-lines in recent years. Ronald Leary and Doug Free are gone, and La’el Collins’ move to right tackle is not a sure bet for success.

Washington sits two slots below at No. 11. PFF considers continuity the 'Skins' greatest strength — they return all five O-line starters from last season and four of five from 2015.

And the Giants, well, it’ll take some scrolling to reach their spot on the list: No. 28. Left tackle Ereck Flowers was the worst among his position in pressures allowed as a rookie. Eli Manning could be in for a busy season.