Two days after the preseason opener in Green Bay, the Eagles were back on the practice field in Philadelphia … without Jordan Matthews.
Saturday, of course, was the first day since the big trade that sent Matthews and a third-round pick in 2018 to Buffalo and brought cornerback Ronald Darby to Philly.
Without wasting time, here are 10 observations from Day 15 at training camp:
1. *Clears throat* injuries: Nick Foles (elbow), Bryce Treggs (leg soreness), Paul Turner (shoulder), Wendell Smallwood (hamstring), Ron Brooks (hamstring), Aaron Grymes (personal reasons), Josh Andrews (hand), Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee), Brandon Brooks (hamstring) and Anthony Denham (calf) did not practice.
Vaitai injured his knee during Thursday's game. It initially looked like a scary injury but he had just a sleeve on his leg Saturday. Head coach Doug Pederson said they're expecting Big V to just miss a couple days of practice. Ron Brooks injured his hamstring in the game but said after practice Saturday keeping him out is just precautionary.
Trey Burton and Chance Warmack left practice early with undisclosed injuries.
2. The Eagles had their third and final live period (tackling to the ground) of training camp. It seemed like a pretty long and tough practice for two days after the first preseason game, but that was the plan all along.
Pederson wasn't swayed to make it tougher because of sloppy play against the Packers.
"I just wanted to do it after a ball game just because the starters didn't play a ton in that game," he said. "Wanted to give them a day, then come back with a spirited, live period practice."
3. LeGarrette Blount missed the live periods earlier in training camp, so Saturday offered a chance to see him in real football situations. He didn't do very well. In the game Thursday, Blount had four carries for nine yards. It was more of the same at practice.
He had several carries but gained just a few yards. Maybe we won't really see what he has left until the season starts.
4. Shelton Gibson has turned things around. He made another great catch near the sideline over C.J. Smith in 11-on-11s, but he's not completely over his troubles. He had a pretty egregious drop in the game Thursday. And on Saturday, he crossed the middle of the field and made an awkward jump catch when he didn't need to jump. He's going in the right direction but isn't there yet.
5. With Matthews gone, Nelson Agholor settled into the top slot receiver position as expected. Agholor didn't just work with the first team Saturday, he worked with the twos and even the threes as well. It's clear the Eagles are now working to get him a ton of reps in the slot to prepare him for the season. He's going to need to spend a lot of time there. Others will be worked in the slot as well. Mack Hollins had an active day in the middle of the field.
6. With Ron Brooks' hamstring injury, the Eagles had Malcolm Jenkins work as the nickel cornerback Saturday. That's exactly what the team did in 2016 when Brooks was lost for the year after rupturing his quad tendon. Jenkins likes playing in the slot, but it really weakened the team on the back end.
On Saturday, though, it was newcomer Corey Graham who filled in for Jenkins at safety when Jenkins moved up to slot corner. Graham is already ahead of Jaylen Watkins and Terrence Brooks for the third safety slot. The Eagles will probably feel more comfortable moving Jenkins into the slot cornerback spot if needed with Graham as his replacement.
7. Donnel Pumphrey fumbled a ball during an 11-on-11 rep Saturday. Not a good sign for the young rookie, who struggled in his preseason debut Thursday night. He had trouble securing the ball in that game. Rookies who put the ball on the ground have a hard time getting on the field.
8. Carson Wentz didn't have a very sharp day. His best pass of the morning went to a streaking Torrey Smith, who snuck behind Jalen Mills in coverage. It'll be fun to see Smith go up against Ronald Darby once the new corner is practicing. Wentz kind of seemed sluggish Saturday; in fact a lot of the team did. Perhaps it was a sort of hangover after losing Matthews in the trade. He was a favorite in the locker room and, while some don't want to believe it, football players are people with emotions.
9. Defensive end Alex McCalister has started to pick it up over the last week. He still might have an uphill battle to make the team, but he's really been improving. He made a few plays in the game — against the third team, but still — Thursday night. And he kept it going Saturday. He showed an impressive move inside that was obviously set up by the fact that offensive tackles need to respect his speed. He made a quick move inside and the tackle was left flat-footed as he got in on the QB.
10. Jordan Hicks has the unbelievable ability, especially for a linebacker, to just always be around the ball. On Saturday, he broke up a pass he probably should have caught in the first 11-on-11 drills but redeemed himself later. In a red zone period, he floated back and picked off Matt McGloin in the middle of the end zone. He just has a knack for making big plays.
Stupid Observation of the Day: Blount seemed so happy to get his No. 29 back, but as he came out of the NovaCare Complex for practice, he had his jersey rolled up so no one could see the number.
Gets his number back ... doesn't show it off pic.twitter.com/SVApqZgI6Y— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroCSN) August 12, 2017