Last week we looked at the biggest winners and losers from Philadelphia Eagles training camp after the first five days of practice. Now it’s time for some updated winners, losers, and I don’t knows (much to the delight of BGN’s Benjamin Solak) after watching five more practices.
Darius Slay admitted Reagor made a “great catch” on a 1-on-1 rep where the rookie got past the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback for a deep touchdown. Reagor hasn’t been utilized so much as a burner in camp, though. He’s instead been really effective on routes over the middle. He’s basically been unguardable on slant routes. The rookie hasn’t had trouble making difficult catches in traffic. I don’t know that he’s going to be a full-time starter from the jump but he will play and make some kind of instant impact.
At the risk of falling for JJAW looking good in the summer again, I’m ready to say he definitely looks improved. The 2019 second-round pick has caught everything thrown his way from what I’ve seen. He made some real impressive grabs in red zone drills this week. JJAW is a natural fit to start at the X position, though I think he’ll be rotating with Reagor to some extent.
Hightower’s won reps in a multitude of ways. He’s beaten defensive backs with his deep speed. He’s gotten open with sharp route-running. He’s outleaped defenders to make highlight catches. Really encouraging stuff. Hightower isn’t going to be a starter but he could be earning rotational playing time. Also important looking like an important depth guy to have around.
This dude needs to make the team. Even if it means the Eagles have to keep seven receivers. Burnett makes good catches on the daily. One could make the case he’s had a better camp than Greg Ward. And that’s not to disparage Ward, who I like. But while we’re comparing those two, Burnett is only 22 while Ward is 25. Burnett isn’t the biggest guy and doesn’t have the greatest athletic profile but he’s definitely just good at the game. He gets open and makes difficult catches when he’s covered. I really don’t look at this as the case of a new Na Brown. Burnett had a big catch in Week 17 last season and he did some good stuff during his New York Jets stint:
Peters is a winner because he doesn’t have to worry about transitioning to right guard anymore. He’s back at left tackle with Andre Dillard out for the 2020 season. As a reminder, Pro Football Focus had Peters as their sixth highest-graded tackle in 2019. Of course, Peters is prone to missing playing time and could decline further as he turns 39 in January.
Pryor’s had a good summer; I’ve seen him draw praise from teammates and coaches alike. He’s slated to move into the starting right guard spot with Peters shifting back out to left tackle. Good friend Tra Thomas really gassed Pryor up in an interview with BGN earlier this summer.
Sudfeld made the “Losers” section of last week’s article but I’m putting him here in the winners since he’s had some good practices and Jalen Hurts has kind of cooled off a little. Doug Pederson stressed that Sudfeld is still the No. 2 quarterback and that much was apparent during a day of practice where he took almost all the non-Carson Wentz reps. Sudfeld even got some work with the first team at one point. With all this said, I still think Hurts will overtake Sudfeld at some point. But it hasn’t happened yet.
Clement’s had a number of long runs and has generally looked good. Most importantly, he’s managed to stay healthy after being banged up in the past couple training camps. Clement’s well-positioned to be the Eagles’ third running back behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott. Won’t have a big offensive role but could see some occasional touches while serving as an important depth player.
Edwards has had a good summer. The second-year linebacker is a smart and instinctual player, which helps to make up for his relative lack of size and athleticism. I don’t know that Edwards is going to be the full-time linebacker next to Nathan Gerry; the Eagles have been splitting that spot between him and Duke Riley, who’s also done some good things. Edwards should be useful when he is on the field.
I didn’t think Toohill stood much of a chance of making the roster coming into camp. He looked like he needed to bulk up before being able to really flash. But Toohill’s proved me wrong by looking pretty active in practice. He’s won a number of battles for “sacks,” albeit against backup offensive linemen. He’s still only a fifth or sixth defensive end at best so it’s not like he’s going to play much. Could develop into a third or fourth guy in the edge rush rotation down the line.
Wasn’t great to see the player the Eagles traded up for in the first round last year getting pancaked into the starting quarterback’s legs by a former undrafted free agent. That could’ve been Wentz’s season right there. Instead, it’s Dillard who is out for the year after suffering a biceps injury during a 1-on-1 rep on Thursday. 2020 was shaping up to be an opportunity for Dillard to establish himself as the Eagles’ franchise left tackle. Now there will still be doubt about him going into his age 26 season next year. Really sucks for both him and the team.
Jones only participated in team drills for the first two of the Eagles’ 10 total practices. Even defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted he’s running out of time to show what he’s got. In that vein, Jones is not doing anything to earn his spot on the 53-man roster. The Eagles might not want to give up on his potential and opt to keep him as a deep backup. But the problem with doing that is he’s not really known for being a special teams contributor. Jones has more value to the Eagles in a trade — even for a low return — than he does being inactive while hoping he eventually pans out. They can’t just keep waiting forever.
It’s not perfectly clear how Perkins got hurt but he’s out for the season after suffering some kind of serious upper body injury. The Eagles putting him on injured reserve before roster cuts means he’s ineligible to be activated this year. Perkins had a solid chance of making the 53 as a third tight end — or at least the practice squad — but that won’t be happening now.
Well, I should probably feel like a big jerk since I’m literally adding insult to injury for all these guys who’ve been hurt. But, as one football guy once said, ‘you can’t make the club in the tub.’ Avery’s a winner in that he avoided a season-ending injury after being carted off. He’s reportedly “day-to-day” with a bone bruise. Then again, Avery being out for the season would’ve allowed him to stick around on injured reserve. If his injury is less severe, the Eagles might just have to cut him since he’s been outplayed by Ostman, Toohill, and even Shareef Miller.
I DON’T KNOWS
To say Wentz has had a bad camp wouldn’t be accurate. He’s made a lot of good throws. Still would like to see him cut down on the inaccurate passes. I realize that’s probably always going to be part of the Wentz experience and the Eagles can live with that if he’s making big plays. It just feels like there are times when Wentz has a chance to use a little more finesse instead of always throwing straight bullets. Call it nit-picking if you must. Regardless, I’m still high on Wentz’s outlook. I put him in the “Winners” section last week because it looks like he might actually have some legitimate receivers to throw to. By the same logic, he might actually deserve to be in the “Losers” this week with the offensive line potentially becoming a real issue. So, I’ll split the difference and put him here.
As I typed earlier, Hurts has cooled off after really shining during the first week of practice. Again, the rookie quarterback hasn’t been bad by any means. And I still think he’s going to overtake Sudfeld at some point. Just don’t think it’s going to happen before Week 1. Would like to see Hurts run a little less in practice since we already know he’s really good at that and the defense can’t touch him. Would like to see him get the ball out a little quicker as opposed to holding on.
Watkins has had a couple drops but I’ve seen more good than bad from him. I’m putting him in the IDKs, though, because there are arguably six receivers looking better than him. Feel pretty confident that Watkins will make the team. Might be inactive on game day? Or not if he’s playing special teams. Barring injury, don’t think we’ll see him on offense.
When I did my last 53-man roster projection (new one coming tomorrow), I left Mailata off since he hasn’t earned his spot on the team. He’s definitely going to make the squad now with Dillard getting hurt. He’s lined up at first team left tackle when Dillard has missed practice time. Still don’t think he looks trustworthy. Doug Pederson’s answer about him this week wasn’t very encouraging, as my BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski laid out well:
“Mailata is doing some good things. He flashes from time to time. Again, keeping in mind that football is relatively new to him. He doesn’t have a lot of game experience, obviously, outside of preseason games in the past, but is doing a really good job for us there at left tackle, as well, and could potentially be someone that maybe could swing from left to right if need be.”
That quote might sound complimentary. It’s not. There are three issues there:
Mailata started cross-training at right tackle last year, and Pederson said he “potentially” could be someone who plays there, “if need be.” By comparison, Halapoulivaati Vaitai played LT and RT in his rookie season. So that’s not great that Mailata is not definitively a swing tackle by now.
Yes, football is “relatively new” to Mailata, but at some point when does that “new to football” crutch go away? This is his third year of NFL coaching.
”Flashing” from time to time is fine if you’re a wide receiver or a running back. Like, if you have two drops, but then you make an acrobatic 40-yard TD catch, nobody cares about the drops. When you’re an offensive lineman, consistency is far more important than the occasional really impressive rep. Nobody cares if you pancaked a guy on one play if you give up a sack-fumble on the next.
The Eagles should sign a veteran swing tackle to be ready if Peters goes down. Trusting Mailata is too big of a leap of faith.
PRINCE TEGA WANOGHO
I think PTW’s done some nice things as the third string left tackle. His stock is boosted by Dillard getting hurt. Maybe he actually proves to be the top backup left tackle if Peters gets hurt. Hard to count on that, though. PTW is still relatively new to football and the knee injury that caused him to fall in the 2020 NFL Draft must be noted. Not sure he’s ready to play a whole lot as a rookie. But he might have to anyway.
James has lost a few reps but he’s bounced back and won some as well. He’s been the second team cornerback across from Rasul Douglas with Jones out. James may not possess Jones’ theoretical upside but he’s been more durable and he’s actually a good special teams player, which matters for bottom of the roster guys. James is more deserving to make the team than Jones is. But that might not matter if the Eagles still value Jones’ potential. James is on the roster bubble.
Holyfield appears to be the clear No. 4 running back behind Sanders, Scott, and Clement. He’s had some nice runs and hasn’t looked out of place catching the ball. But do the Eagles keep four backs? They might not if they go heavy at receiver like I think they might. Holyfield might have to settle for a practice squad spot where the Eagles are able to move him up and down via the new 55-man roster system.
Togiai feels like a winner by default with Perkins going down. He’s not going to get beat out by Caleb Wilson or Tyrone Swoopes. But the Eagles might only opt to keep two tight ends. Or they could grab a third tight end off waivers following final cuts.
Fulgham has had some nice catches despite only joining the team last week. He has no chance of making the 53 and he’s not a sure bet for the practice squad. But he’s made the most of his limited opportunities thus far.