7 Eagles training camp observations from practice No. 5: Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett dominate; Tyree Jackson is dark horse to watch

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles returned to practice on Monday as they began their second week of training camp at the NovaCare Complex.

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The Eagles took part in their final shells-and-shorts workout before the pads come into play on Tuesday.

PREVIOUS PRACTICE OBSERVATIONS: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Here are seven observations from Monday’s practice:

Defensive ends are dominating camp

For the first time in a long time, DE Derek Barnett is healthy during training camp. He’s making the most of being injury-free, as he’s been lights out during camp thus far. Following a day off, Barnett was relentless in practice during 1-on-1 sessions and team drills. In 1-on-1 drills, Barnett rushed against right tackle Jack Driscoll and beat him with a spin move that made Driscoll fall to the ground. Barnett also had a particularly dominant rep against Andre Dillard in 11-on-11 work, as he powered Dillard into the pocket almost immediately and created pressure that forced Jalen Hurts to scramble.

Josh Sweat, Barnett’s main competition, continued his big start to camp with a win in a 1-on-1 matchup against Dillard. (Correction: Originally had Sweat down for the split sack with Brandon Graham, it was actually DT Javon Hargrave who split the “sack.” My handwriting needs some more practice reps.)

Graham also had a nice day. He had the aftermentioned split-sack with Hargrave in team drills, and later batted a Hurts pass at the line during 11-on-11 work. Graham (surprise!) also beat Dillard on a 1-on-1 rep.

Injury updates

The biggest news out of Monday’s practice wasn’t actually related to anything that happened on the field.

WR DeVonta Smith (knee sprain) was listed as “week-to-week” by the Eagles after it was confirmed that he had a minor knee sprain. Smith suffered the injury during Saturday’s evening practice. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the injury is an MCL sprain and that the ailment will keep Smith sidelined for 2-3 weeks. That timeline means that Smith might miss the preseason but won’t miss a regular-season game.

Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan was the notable in-practice injury of the day. Kerrigan left an early team drill with a trainer and was flexing his right hand as walked into the NovaCare Complex. Kerrigan did not return to drills for the rest of the workout.

In positive news, linebacker Davion Taylor (quad) and cornerback Shakial Taylor (lower body) returned to practice. Davion Taylor missed Saturday’s workout, while Shakial Taylor missed all of last week.

RG Brandon Brooks (hamstring), CB Nate Meadors (hamstring) and LG Isaac Seumalo (hamstring) remained sidelined, while TE Jason Croom (knee) was added to the injury list. The Eagles are listing Brooks and Croom as day-to-day, while Meadors and Seumalo continue to be week-to-week.

FS Rodney McLeod (knee) and OT Le’Raven Clark (Achilles) remained on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but were seen working on another field during practice. Second-round lineman Landon Dickerson remains on the non-football injury (NFI) list.

LB Alex Singleton, DE Matt Leo and S Andrew Adams remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but Adams was seen working on a side field with trainers for the first time during practice.

His name is Tyree Jackson

50 Cent once sang, “Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top.” Tyree Jackson is that underdog in the Eagles’ training camp right now.

The QB-turned-TE has outshined everyone at the position, not named Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert, through the first five practices. At 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, Jackson is hard to miss, but he’s also making plays all over the field in team drills against the second- and third-team defenses. Monday, Jackson made a trio of impressive catches over defenders.

Second-string QB Joe Flacco hit Jackson over the middle for a nice YAC gain in 11-on-11. He then hit him again toward the corner on the same series. Jackson later caught a pass across the middle from Nick Mullens.

As NJ Advance Media has previously reported, Ertz seems to be embracing his current fate with the Eagles on the surface, so Jackson might actually be competing with Jack Stoll, Caleb Wilson and Richard Rodgers for the third tight end job. So far, this early in his position transition, he’s turning heads.

READ MORE: How Eagles’ Davion Taylor took advantage of 2nd offseason after forgettable rookie year

Good day to be a former Lions running back

Former Detroit running backs Kerryon Johnson and Jason Huntley had individual highlights upon their return to practice. Johnson took a pitch to the right and picked up a cool 25 yards on the ground before being touched in 11-on-11 drills. Huntley broke free after a single cut for an impressive gain against the depth groups.

The Eagles are likely to keep 4-5 running backs, and right now, that group appears to be led by Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Kenny Gainwell (who had a nice gain on a screen pass). From there, Johnson, Huntley and Jordan Howard (who also ran well Monday) are competing for 1-2 jobs. Huntley might have an advantage due to his kick return ability.


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Jordan Mailata appears to be running away with the LT gig

Jordan Mailata, at least with shells and shorts, has looked much better than Dillard to this point. Mailata did a nice job in 1-on-1 drills, as he was the only lineman to handle Barnett’s combination of technique and power. Mailata looks comfortable, and frankly menacing, on the blindside to this point.

Obviously, pads could change things for the LT competition. Dillard appears to be in much better shape mentally and physically than he was in the two previous camps, which could help him with added physicality. Still, just from the five-day sample size, it’s clear Mailata is in the driver’s seat for the competition to block for Hurts.

QB EVALUATIONS: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5

Offensive Play of the Day

During 7-on-7 work, Hurts launched a ball down the field to WR Quez Watkins, who ran a “go” route, beating cornerback Steve Nelson in coverage. The toss was a beauty, and Watkins caught it in stride for a massive gain. Watkins has looked good in back-to-back practices since returning from an illness. Hurts had a strong day as well, especially outside of the pocket (more on that in Chris Franklin’s QB breakdown).

Defensive Play of the Day

Rookie cornerback Zach McPhearson was in coverage against the third-team offense when he recorded his first pick of the summer. McPhearson came close to collecting the ball twice last week but finally nabbed his first interception on an underthrown ball from Nick Mullens down the left sideline.

QUICK HITS

- DT Fletcher Cox is such an unfair assignment in 1-on-1 pass rush drills. Cox schooled LG Nate Herbig in an early 1-on-1 matchup. Herbig later came back and handled DT Hassan Ridgeway just fine.

- The kick returners in practice were Jalen Reagor, Boston Scott, Greg Ward and Kenny Gainwell.

- DE Joe Ostman had an excellent 1-on-1 rep against OT Brett Toth. Ostman used his speed and quickness to get around Toth for the “win.” Ostman’s defensive line teammates cheered for him after the rep.

- Quez Watkins had a really nice practice. Along with the aforementioned deep shot in 7-on-7 drills, Watkins showed off his quickness and vision on a screen pass during 11-on-11 drills. The play took place in the red zone and Watkins gained roughly 15 yards and a touchdown on the screen.

- The Eagles will practice again on Tuesday at 10 a.m. The players will don pads for the first time, and NJ Advance Media will have full live coverage on Eagles Extra (sign up for two weeks FREE now) throughout the day.

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