The only difference between the Eagles’ mandatory minicamp that kicked off Tuesday and previous OTAs is the mandatory minicamp is, well, mandatory.
These three days are still in Phase 3 of the offseason program. Per the CBA, Phase 3 allows competition but doesn’t allow 1-on-1s, shells, full pads or hitting.
Yup, this minicamp is mandatory, but it’s still guys in shorts.
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All but three of 90 players on the roster reported for physicals on Monday. The three — undrafted free agents Aziz Shittu, Byron Marshall and third-rounder Isaac Seumalo — are being held captive at school because they’re still in classes. Everyone else showed up. Of course, that means Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles reported and both took the field on Tuesday.
That’s where we’ll start in today’s 10 observations:
1. Cox and Sproles were on the field with the Eagles for the first time this offseason. While head coach Doug Pederson said both players would be limited in practice upon their return, one was much more limited than the other.
Cox’s workout on Tuesday was very light, as he didn’t participate in the 11-on-11 portion of practice. Free-agent signing Mike Martin continued to take his place with the first team next to Bennie Logan on the defensive line.
Meanwhile, Sproles was very involved in his first day back. After failing to reel in the first punt that came his way, Sproles looked pretty comfortable fielding the rest. Then, he even got some first-team reps during 11-on-11s, catching some balls out of the backfield (see story).
2. Thanks to the return of Cox and Sproles, the quarterbacks were ousted from their top billing. No. 2 will have to suffice.
Sam Bradford: Pretty solid day. He didn’t throw many deep but connected on most of his short and intermediate throws. His best toss of the day came on a deep ball to Josh Huff down the sideline on a play that would have gone for a 70-yard touchdown in a game.
Chase Daniel: No, Daniel doesn’t have the arm strength of Bradford or Carson Wentz, but in the last two open practices, it’s become clearer why the Eagles wanted him so badly. He looked really good on Tuesday, making some really difficult throws with few mistakes. He was able to find Jordan Matthews for a few impressive hookups, but his best throw came on a deep pass down the right sideline to Xavier Rush. He dropped it right over Jalen Mills’ head.
Wentz: It wasn’t a great day for the No. 2 pick. In particular he had one really bad series during 11-on-11s, overthrowing a few targets. That’s been a problem for him, the overthrows. But just when you think the rookie is having a terrible day, he connects on the play of the day. He hit Hunter Sharp with a bomb down the sideline, splitting Denzel Rice and Chris Maragos.
3. A couple key guys were back on Tuesday. Jordan Hicks (quad) and Rueben Randle (gallbladder surgery) participated during team drills, although they didn’t get all the reps (more on Hicks here). Still, it’s a good sign for the team to see these two eased back in (more on Randle here).
Nolan Carroll (fibula) and JaCorey Shepherd (ACL) were back in a limited fashion on Tuesday, but didn’t do any team stuff. Both left early to go inside. Shepherd wore a pretty serious brace on his right knee.
4. Another little — almost nonexistent — scuffle took place on Tuesday. This time Connor Barwin and Allen Barbre had some extra words after a play. Earlier in the spring, Barbre got into it with Martin and the two had to be separated. So if it wasn’t a big deal, why am I mentioning it? Well, because it might be a sign of things to come when training camp gets here. With this camp expected to be significantly more physical than the ones under Chip Kelly, tempers could flare like the days of Andy Reid’s training camps at Lehigh.
5. Speaking of differences between Chip and Doug … We’ve talked plenty about the change of pace during practice, but so far, it appears Pederson is pretty hands on. He gave 1-on-1 instructions to Huff about running routes for about two minutes straight. Hard to imagine Chipper doing this – he’d probably think it was a waste of time.
Oh, yeah, and Pederson also played some defense on Tuesday:
6. Caleb Sturgis continues to have a little edge over Cody Parkey (at least from the practices we’ve seen) in the kicking competition.
On Tuesday, the two tried from 33, 38, 43 and 48 yards. Sturgis made all of his, but Parkey clanked his 48-yarder off the left upright.
This is definitely a competition to watch at training camp in a couple months.
7. Tuesday was the first time we’ve seen all the running backs on the field together, and three different players took first-team reps: Ryan Mathews, Sproles and Kenjon Barner. It seems like the Eagles are gearing up for another running back-by-committee season.
8. I’ve noticed something over the last few weeks. On the second team offensive line, Matt Tobin has been working at left tackle, while Dennis Kelly has been at right tackle. On many teams, there’s a swing tackle who will be the next guy up if either of the starters goes down during the season. In this case, it seems like the Eagles want to be ready for the possibility Jason Peters goes down during the season, which happened in 2015. If that happens, Lane Johnson would likely shift to the left and Kelly would come in at right. Normally, the second-team left tackle is considered the next-best option if a starter goes down, but not on this team right now.
9. Jim Schwartz doesn’t like to blitz that much. He’d prefer his pass rush come from the guys up front. In fact, that’s how his defense is designed to work. But on Tuesday, he showed that he at least has some blitzes ready to go. One came from safety Rodney McLeod and another came from cornerback Aaron Grymes. Just a wrinkle in the defense we hadn’t really seen yet.
10. Not a great day for Nelson Agholor. The second-year wideout dropped two catchable balls. After the second, he repeatedly yelled to himself on the sideline to “calm down!”
Stupid Observation of the Day: Grymes, the former CFL All-Star is giving Bryan Braman a run for his money for best hair on the team. Grymes isn’t quite at Troy Polamalu levels, but still has a pretty good flow.