chance warmack

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 1: Derek Barnett up, Chance Warmack down

Eagles preseason stock report, Week 1: Derek Barnett up, Chance Warmack down

It would be easy to look at the performance of the Eagles' offensive line against the Packers on Thursday and declare the unit’s stock is down. Such a strong assertion wouldn’t be entirely fair or accurate, either.

The Eagles managed to run for just 47 yards on 19 attempts – a 2.5-yard average. Green Bay was able to generate consistent pressure on quarterbacks as well, forcing Carson Wentz to work some magic on his one and only series. It was not pretty.

Fortunately, this is an example where the preseason was likely playing tricks. The Packers were blitzing on just about every play, which is unusual for an exhibition game. It also tends to be a very effective strategy against an offense that wasn’t game-planning for its opponent or running schemes specifically tailored to stop those packages.

The exotic looks Green Bay threw at a vanilla Eagles offense missing right guard Brandon Brooks explains a lot. As much as the O-line appeared to struggle, this was still far from a simulation of what a real game would look like.

With that in mind, there were still plenty of other worthwhile takeaways from the preseason opener.

STOCK UP

Derek Barnett
Green Bay’s backups were no match for the 14th overall draft pick in his NFL debut. Barnett was consistently disruptive throughout the game, registering four tackles and 2.0 sacks. He was effective rushing the passer as well as defending the run. The 21-year-old also demonstrated an ability to beat offensive tackles to the inside or outside. On one such move to the interior, Barnett made the blocker look like he was standing still, then finished with a sack.

Clearly, making the jump from the SEC to a game against NFL reserves won’t be an issue for Barnett. It’s time to see what he can do with some snaps versus starting-caliber talent next week.

Jalen Mills
If you were searching for a reason to be optimistic about the Eagles' secondary, Mills offered a beacon of hope. The second-year cornerback had tight coverage throughout, shutting down a wide receiver screen for no gain, stopping a receiver short of the sticks on third down and breaking up a pass. Mills was early on the breakup and could’ve been called for pass interference, but he was in excellent position. Even though Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not play, Mills’ performance was a bright spot.

And after the Eagles obtained third-year cornerback Ronald Darby from the Bills on Friday, suddenly the secondary doesn’t look too bad.

Mack Hollins
While all the talk has been about Nelson Agholor gunning for Jordan Mattews’ job, I’m not so sure it wasn’t Hollins that made the Eagles comfortable trading their starting slot receiver. Everybody saw the fourth-round draft pick stiff-arm two would-be tacklers to the ground on his 38-yard touchdown gallop. Hollins shook another tackle attempt later in the game to convert a third down, part of his four-catch, 64-yard effort.

In fact, Hollins looked like a more explosive Matthews on Friday. The rookie could be headed for a far bigger role than anybody would’ve imagined in April.

Bryce Treggs
Treggs was beginning to stand out at training camp heading into this game, and it carried over in a competitive setting. The second-year wideout led all players with seven receptions for 91 yards, catching all but one pass that came his way. We knew Treggs had speed, and that was on display when he hauled in a 38-yard bomb. Perhaps more impressive is the growth he’s shown on underneath and intermediate routes, demonstrating more versatility than a year ago.

The wide receiver position is crowded, but Treggs is making a strong case that he belongs in the mix.

Carson Wentz
This might seem too obvious, but watching Wentz stand calmly in a collapsing pocket, elude pressure and make multiple perfect throws on the move on third and fourth downs only instills more confidence in the franchise quarterback. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews was wreaking havoc in the Eagles' backfield, but the second-year signal caller kept the chains moving, and eventually hit on the big catch-and-run to Hollins.

Wentz didn’t even have his full complement of weapons on Thursday, going 4 for 4 for 56 yards and a score while Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Darren Sproles all sat out. Imagine what the 24-year-old signal caller could do once everybody is on the field.

STOCK DOWN

Chance Warmack
It looked like Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland still has a long way to go with his offseason reclamation project. Warmack often seemed confused about his assignments on Thursday. To be fair, Green Bay blitzed a ton – unusual for preseason – for which the Eagles did not scheme, and we don’t necessarily know who’s supposed to block who on a given play. Yet, there were plenty of occasions when Warmack didn’t block anybody at all, or flat out lost one-on-one battles.

Warmack started at right guard, where he hasn’t practiced a ton with the Eagles. But he wasn’t much better when he moved back to left guard, against the second-team defense no less.

Donnel Pumphrey
It was difficult to evaluate the touches Pumphrey got in his NFL debut. There was no room to run, no chance to make a move on just about every pass that came his way as he finished with 17 yards from scrimmage on nine total touches.

Pumphrey’s lack of production wasn’t really the problem, either. The fifth-round draft pick fumbled on his first carry of the game – though he was ruled down – and appeared to run his route incorrectly on an interception. He also muffed a punt, but was able to recover. Maybe it was simply a case of rookie jitters, but after missing time in training camp with a hamstring injury, Pumphrey needed to show why he deserves to be in the mix at running back. Didn’t happen.

C.J. Smith
Smith endured a particularly rough series in the second quarter. First, he was beaten on a short slant on 3rd-and-4, the exact same type of play the 24-year-old corner scolded himself for not making in practice last week. Two plays later, Smith bit on a double move, giving up a 20-yard touchdown pass to Packers wide receiver Jeff Janis.

To his credit, Smith exhibited a short memory on the following series and broke up a pass, finishing with one tackle and one deflection. Nonetheless, consistency remains an issue. With the Eagles bringing in Darby the next day, this looks like the end of any conversation about Smith competing for a starting job.

Eagles-Packers preseason opener: 10 players to watch

Eagles-Packers preseason opener: 10 players to watch

APPLETON, Wis. — When the Eagles kick off their 2017 preseason tonight in Green Bay (8 ET/NBC), they won't face one of the NFL's best players. 

The Packers are expected to rest superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, Doug Pederson and the Eagles are going to start Carson Wentz. While Wentz will play a little bit against the Packers, expect to see a lot of Matt McGloin and Dane Evans in this game. 

McGloin is trying to prove that he's worth occupying a roster spot, while Evans' best chance might be if McGloin gets cut and he lands on the practice squad. 

You're going to watch the quarterbacks. That's inevitable.

Here are 10 more players to keep an eye on throughout Thursday night's game: 

Shelton Gibson
The Eagles' fifth-round pick out of West Virginia had a rough spring and followed it up with an awful start to training camp. It seemed like he dropped more balls than he caught in the early going. But recently, he's turned things around, starting with an impressive performance at the Linc on Sunday. In front of 36,000 fans at the open practice, he made two great catches. He continued that in practice on Monday. He can make the team forget about that terrible start if he shows he can play in the preseason games. He hasn't lost a roster spot yet. 

C.J. Smith
While veteran Patrick Robinson has floundered for most of training camp in one of the two starting roles, Smith has quietly put himself in position to take a job. Smith, undrafted out of North Dakota State a year ago, has put together an impressive camp and has as good a shot of anybody to become a starter. If he strings together a few good preseason games, he could give Robinson the boot. 

Rasul Douglas
Jim Schwartz used the word "inconsistent" to describe Douglas earlier this week. And that seems to fit. For every play the rookie makes, he makes a mistake or two. Schwartz said that's to be expected, but it has to be a little disappointing for the Eagles, who probably thought the third-round pick could maybe win a starting job. He hasn't looked ready for that so far. But he did have eight interceptions last season, so maybe something will click when he faces different colored jerseys.

Donnel Pumphrey 
Pumphrey suffered a hamstring injury in camp but returned this week. Pederson said the team would monitor him and it's not guaranteed that Pumphrey even plays. But if he does, it's worth watching. After a couple weeks at camp, his lack of size has become less shocking. The Eagles seem determined to use him as a threat in the passing game and he's looked natural at it during camp. Now it's time to show he can do it in live action. 

Nathan Gerry
Gerry has been a surprise of training camp, looking really good in his transition from college safety to NFL linebacker. When Mychal Kendricks missed time with a groin injury during camp, Gerry was the fill-in starter in the base defense. That's important to note because there's still no guarantee Kendricks will be on the team come September. If a team offered the Eagles something for him, it would behoove them to listen. First, they need to make sure Gerry would be an adequate replacement. 

LeGarrette Blount 
For a big guy, Blount sure does move well. We probably don't need to tell you to watch him, but we're going to anyway. It seems like there's a good chance Alshon Jeffery doesn't play (just based on how cautious they've been with him during the summer), so Blount is the next biggest new name to watch. Blount is adamant he's not just a short-yardage guy; this game will be our first look at how the Eagles plan on using him. 

Derek Barnett 
It's been kind of a rough training camp for the first-round pick. At times, he's been getting stood up by several players on the roster. The hope that he could win a starting gig has faded over the last couple weeks. But he's been working on some new moves and the game will be a chance to try them on players who don't know what's coming. He might not be a starter at the beginning of the 2017 season, but it'll be up to him how much playing time he earns. 

Chance Warmack 
This week, after Brandon Brooks suffered an ankle strain, Warmack was the first guy off the bench, filling in at right guard. Warmack signed a one-year deal this offseason to reunite with offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who coached him at Alabama. Warmack was once a top-10 pick, so there's untapped talent in him. This is a big season for the big man. 

Tim Jernigan 
For whatever reason, Jernigan has been the forgotten offseason acquisition, but he has the chance to make a huge impact this season. The Eagles traded 25 spots in the third round to get Jernigan from the Ravens. This is the last year of his deal, so it's possible he's nothing more than a rental. But if he has the type of season he seems capable of having based on training camp, watch out. 

Marcus Johnson 
Johnson is this year's training camp darling. The second-year player from Texas might have been last year's had he not gotten hurt during camp. Despite missing one day this year with a hamstring injury, Johnson seems poised to take a roster spot in the crowded wide receiver room. He's gotten first-team reps and has been impressive all summer. 

Eagles camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Wright time and place?  

Eagles camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Wright time and place?  

After spending his first two years in the NFL with two different teams, veteran defensive tackle Gabe Wright is hoping he's found a home with the Eagles

If nothing else, he's more ready for his opportunity now. 

"My mentality is a little different," Wright said this week. "I didn't really know how to be a pro then. I'll admit to that."

The Lions took Wright in the fourth round of the 2015 draft out of Auburn. As a rookie, he played in seven games and started one, but the Lions cut him before the 2016 season. Wright spent last season with the Browns, playing in five games as he split time between the active roster and the practice squad. The Browns cut him in May, and the Eagles signed him a few weeks later. 

The number of roster spots on the defensive line is tight, but Wright has been steadily more impressive as camp moves on. He's happy to be back in an attacking 4-3 defense. 

"I tell my wife this all the time: Some people just have it when they get in, the Aaron Donalds of the world," Wright said. "Some people always have it. Then there are those who take a little time, maybe even bounce around a little. Sooner or later, stuff just clicks. A new environment can help that, new surroundings."

Wright said it helps to have other examples of players who didn't thrive upon their arrival to the NFL. He specifically mentioned former No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had his career slowed down by injuries until last season when he became a Pro Bowler. 

While Wright admits he's "nowhere near arrived," he at least thinks he's on the right track. He credits some veterans he's played with over the last two years for helping him learn to be a pro. 

As far as those lessons go, one came from former Eagles defensive end Darryl Tapp. When the two played together in Detroit, Tapp taught the rookie to use the cold tub after every practice. Wright still does it. Another lesson was that one bad day of practice can wipe out three good days — consistency is key. 

Wright is just hoping to finally stick with a team.   

"I hope so," he said. "That's how I'm looking at it. They say don't put all your eggs in one basket, but this is everything for me. I'm just happy for the opportunity." 

Splitting time in the slot? 
Since Jordan Matthews joined the Eagles as a rookie in 2014, he's been the Eagles' slot receiver. Things don't seem quite that clear and easy anymore. 

After Monday's practice, offensive coordinator Frank Reich certainly made it seem like Matthews is in a competition with Nelson Agholor to earn playing time from the slot receiver position in 2017. 

"Every spot is up for competition," Reich said. "The way we kind of roll things is we're always looking for guys who make plays. So Nelson has had a real strong spring and camp. So the way we do it is it's kind of by play. Sometimes we'll switch guys up. We'll see what a defense does from a coverage standpoint, and then we want to attack that coverage."

The questions about the slot position have come up recently since NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he expected Agholor to be the Eagles' slot receiver and didn't know what that meant for Matthews. 

The Eagles' receiving corps is much different now than it has been for the last few years after adding Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offseason. Reich brought up the extra competition on Monday when asked if things are different with the slot receiver position this season. 

"So, yeah, I think it is a little bit different than last year," Reich said. 

But if Agholor does play in the slot, what does that mean for Matthews? 

"Jordan can play outside," Reich said. "We can be in four receivers and have two slots. We don't want to take our tight ends off the field too much. We have a bunch of different personnel packages, and we'll just continue to mix them up week by week."

Getting a chance
During Monday's practice, right guard Brandon Brooks left early with an ankle issue and was replaced by offseason acquisition Chance Warmack. 

It's notable that Warmack was the next guy up and not Stefen Wisniewski, who signed a three-year deal to stay in Philly this offseason. 

"You know, I think Chance has gotten better every week," Reich said. "[He has] really embraced what we do and how we do it. Obviously, being reunited with [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] has been a good thing. A great room — it's a great culture in that room. So he's very tough. Physical. Strong hands, very good run blocker. So those are the things you see in his game."

Warmack was the 10th overall pick in the 2013 draft but has never quite lived up to that status. His hope in joining the Eagles was that his college position coach would be able to help him rediscover that magic.