Eagles Ready to Break Up Monotony With Joint Practices Vs. Dolphins This Summer

Terrence Brooks wasn't an Eagle the last time another team came to Philadelphia for a joint practice. He and new Eagles wideout Torrey Smith were, instead, members of the visitings Ravens.

"It's kind of ironic, kind of crazy," Brooks, now an Eagles safety, said of the fact that he'll be in an Eagles uniform this time.  

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Brooks and the rest of the Eagles will host the Dolphins for joint practices this summer, leading up to a Week 3 preseason matchup against the Dolphins on Aug. 24 at Lincoln Financial Field, the team announced on Thursday. The Eagles did not participate in joint practices during Doug Pederson's first year as head coach.

Pederson's reasoning for the joint practices this year: "Why not?"

"[Dolphins head coach Adam Gase] and I have had a good relationship over the last couple of years, and we actually were kind of thinking the same things, along the same lines. I think it's good at that time of year, in training camp, specifically. [Your team has] been beating up on each other for a few weeks, and then you get a chance to practice against somebody else in a controlled environment."

Eagles training camp begins July 24 and ends Aug. 15. Practice, obviously, will continue on after that. The team will face the Packers on Aug. 10 and the Bills on Aug. 17. But other than those preseason games, the Eagles will see a lot of midnight green jerseys this summer. And as visually appealing as the color might be, it can get old when it's the only thing you're facing day in and day out. Most players relish the opportunity to swap it out in for the aqua green the Dolphins will bring to town, simply because it's something different.

"It's a good way to break up the monotony of camp," safety Malcolm Jenkins, who's been a part of joint practices both with the Eagles and the Saints, said. "You get a different look, you work in different schemes. You get a little more competitive because you're not necessarily worried about hurting your own teammates."

The idea of joint practices before a preseason game is nothing new. The Ravens came to Philadelphia two years ago. The Eagles had the Patriots practice in Philly in 2013 and went up to New England in 2014. For what it's worth, which is probably very little, the Eagles beat the Ravens 40-17 in 2015, but lost to the Patriots in both 2014 and 2013 preseason games.

Consensus among the Eagles' locker room was that the refreshment of lining up against another team will be a welcome shake-up. Chris Maragos said "it keeps you sharp from a mental aspect." It's a chance to gain exposure to new formations, techniques and even drills. But at the end of the week, they still have to play a game. For some, the week of joint preparation makes gameday a little different. 

"You get to see what their speeds are, see what type of tendencies they like to do, so it definitely gives you a bit of an advantage getting to pick up on what they're doing in a game," Brooks said.

But for others, gameday is gameday and it's hard to alter that. 

"For me, and I think for other guys on the team, you treat every day the same," Maragos said. "Whether it's your own teammates or it's a different team that you're playing against practice or in the game, you treat every rep the same."

Plus, these are still just preseason games. Teams don't show too much. As Jenkins said, everything stays pretty "vanilla." There are 16 more contests that actually matter. 

That's not to say there isn't anything to gain in the long run. In facing the Dolphins, some of the Eagles' offensive pieces see a challenge that can only help. As a team defense, the Dolphins don't boast a stellar reputation. They ranked 29th in total defense last season, allowing an average of 382 yards per game. But on an an individual level, it's a unit of some exceptional talents. Challenge accepted.

"I'm going to go against Cameron Wake," tackle Lane Johnson said. "He's one of the best in the league."

Wake, who turned 35 in January, had 11.5 sacks last year. But he's not alone. Zach Ertz said facing Miami's front seven will be like "three games during that week."

"Cameron Wake, (Ndamukong) Suh, Kiko (Alonso) is obviously there, they signed Lawrence Timmons from the Steelers," said Ertz, who missed the 2015 joint sessions with Baltimore because of hernia surgery. "It's going to be a great test for us. As an offense, it's something that we need."

There are some name that ring a bell. Alonso and Byron Maxwell were traded to the Dolphins after one disappointing season with the Eagles in 2015, showing some of these unfamiliar faces are actually quite familiar.

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