Eagles Training Camp Day 9 Observations: Defense Stands Strong in Red Zone

A day after tackling to the ground, the Eagles were in shorts and shells on Wednesday morning, but still had a spirited practice. 

They worked a bunch in the red zone, which made for some interesting moments. 

They have two more days of practice on Thursday and Friday before another off day on Saturday. 

Observation time: 

1. *Clears throat* injuries: Nick Foles (elbow), Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring), LeGarrette Blount (personal reasons), Alex McCalister (hamstring) and Elijah Qualls (groin) all missed practice again. 

Torrey Smith (back spasms) returned after missing one day of practice, but Paul Turner missed Wednesday with a shoulder injury. 

Jeffery said he won't do interviews until he practices again. On Tuesday, head coach Doug Pederson said the injury wasn't serious. 

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2. The offense came out in the first 11-on-11 red-zone period firing. First, Wentz hit Darren Sproles on a perfect wheel route. Even if there was a defender in the area, the pass was simply perfect. Then, Trey Burton brought down two consecutive passes in the end zone. On the first, he leaped over Patrick Robinson and the second he caught with Jalen Mills draped over him. 

3. The defense answered though. 

In the next 11-on-11 period in the red zone, the defense was impenetrable. Wentz and the offense had 12 plays, starting from the 20, and couldn't get into the end zone. Of those 12 plays, two were short runs from Wendell Smallwood. The rest were incompletions. Mills knocked down a pass intended for Burton. C.J. Smith knocked down a pass to Smith. Malcolm Jenkins knocked down a pass for Burton. And even Robinson, who has struggled immensely, got into the action, breaking up a pass for Jordan Matthews. Fletcher Cox pushed Wentz out of the pocket on one of the incompletions. 

Even in the next period, which was 7-on-7 in the red zone, the defense was stout. It wasn't until the fifth play of the 7-on-7s that the offense scored. Brent Celek bobbled the ball but caught it in the back of the end zone. 

That touchdown wasn't until the 17th play inside the red zone. Impressive stuff from the defense. 

"With our offense, they have a lot of formations so you have to see it and communicate," Mills said. "If you don't communicate vs. our offense, we're going to get scored on. I feel like that was the big part of the day today. We communicated as a defense."  

4. As expected, the receiver vs. defensive back 1-on-1s went in favor of the receivers. It's a drill that is just easier for them, but several of the plays stood out. 

- Smith pulled in a pretty spectacular catch with his left hand while being held by a defender.

- Mack Hollins made a really tough catch with Mills all over him. 

- Matthews made a tough catch on a fade over Malcolm Jenkins. 

- Aaron Grymes broke up a bad pass intended for Nelson Agholor and Rasul Douglas broke up a ball intended for David Watford. 

5. As the offense practiced red-zone work today, Burton was really involved. He made those two big catches during the team portion and was also a big target in the group portion of practice. He had an impressive over-the-shoulder adjustment on a deep ball from Wentz.  

6. Agholor made an impressive touchdown catch in the end zone, scooping it up from just about the top of the grass during 7-on-7s. It was the play of the day for the offense. 

7. In the very last 11-on-11 period of the day, Darren Sproles reminded everyone that he still has some moves. He took the handoff running right and cut on a dime back to the left, leaving a few defenders floating the wrong way. He turned 34 in June, but the little running back still has it. 

8. Speaking about impressive cuts, Greg Ward had one on Wednesday. Working on the other field - Pederson split up parts of practice today to let the first teams and second teams face each other - Ward caught a short pass and completely reversed field, eventually pulling a great move on rookie cornerback Jomal Wiltz. 

9. Hollins couldn't bring down a deep ball with C.J. Smith making a great play, but it was a gem of a pass from Wentz. The Eagles' quarterback wasn't lights-out on Wednesday, but we've seen his deep passes consistently be on the money throughout training camp. It's been impressive. 

10. Tim Jernigan continues to make plays every day. He's consistently getting into the backfield to stop run plays before they can develop. 

Stupid Observation of the Day: It looks like Bryce Treggs and Greg Ward have developed a special handshake. It's kind of like two jump steps followed by a few slaps of their hands. 

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