Philadelphia Eagles training camp is eight practices in, as the city is starting to get a grasp on how Nick Sirianni is running the team in his first season as head coach. Eagles practices are fast, efficient, and detail-oriented — as Sirianni has a goal of getting “one percent better” every day.
Sirianni has kept score between the offense and defense each practice (he even has competitions between position groups and players) as he determines who will make the Eagles’ 53-man roster. For the record, the Eagles defense has looked incredible — winning the first six practices — and appears to be significantly improved over last season.
Jalen Hurts has been inconsistent with his throws, but the Eagles have been working on his footwork in camp as they prepare him for the grind of a 17-game season. Hurts’ deep ball is something Eagles fans will want to keep an eye on this year, as he’s been impressive finding receivers downfield.
The Eagles have an off day Friday, so here’s a good opportunity to gauge the stock market. Which players should you buy stock in as the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers is Thursday — and the players that just haven’t been playing to their potential.
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No matter who Sweat is going up against in practice, the fourth-year defensive end has been dominating. The Eagles have rotated Sweat and Derek Barnett on the first team, but Sweat clearly has the upper hand. He’s getting to the quarterback consistently and has been the best edge rusher on a defensive line that has been excellent in camp.
If there’s a competition for the starting left tackle job, the Eagles would have to point that out. Mailata is the clear front-runner for the position, having his way against the Eagles defensive line though the first week of practice. Mailata came into camp in the best shape of his football career — and the results are showing with his explosiveness off the snap and power on the block. The Eagles defensive line has had an excellent camp, but Mailata has done more than held his own.
Mailata should be the starting left tackle in Week 1.
The Steven Nelson signing has benefitted the entire secondary, but McPhearson experienced the biggest impact. The 2021 fourth-round pick has a knack for finding the football (he had a few pass breakups in practice earlier in the week) and is showcasing he deserves more snaps when the season starts. McPhearson will be a player to keep an eye on this preseason, an opportunity to prove he can play on the outside and in the slot.
Mailata is close to lapping Dillard in this left tackle “competition.” Dillard has been beaten badly by the Eagles defensive line (specifically Sweat) in the individual and team portion of practice — and his run blocking hasn’t been much better either. The Eagles are giving Dillard an opportunity to win the competition because he’s a former first-round pick, even though Mailata has clearly outplayed him to this point.
Maybe Dillard will improve in the preseason, but this isn’t a good start.
Flacco is the No. 2 quarterback because his salary is guaranteed at $3.5 million. Make no mistake about it, Flacco is getting outplayed by Nick Mullens. Flacco has been inconsistent against the Eagles’ second-team defense, making one wonder what would happen if he had to come in for Hurts.
Flacco hasn’t been bad, but he should be better. If his salary wasn’t guaranteed, there would be a legitimate competition for the backup quarterback job.
Almost omitted Reagor from this list because he had a strong day of camp Thursday and responded extremely well to Sirianni’s criticism earlier in the week — but that has been his only good day of camp to this point. Reagor got off to a slow start in camp, recovering mentally from the murder of a close friend. Perhaps his performance over the first few practices had something to do with it as he eased back into football.
The Eagles need Reagor to step up and emerge as the No. 1 wide receiver with DeVonta Smith out multiple weeks. Even if Smith is healthy, Philadelphia needs a consistent No. 2 option at receiver — which falls on Reagor. Outside of Smith, Zach Ertz has been the second-best receiver in camp. That distinction should belong to Reagor.
Thursday’s practice was encouraging, but the Eagles need more consistently out of Reagor going forward.