Eagles training camp observations: Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz stand out; DeVonta Smith sidelined after collision | 7 takeaways from 4th practice

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles hosted 200 military members at the NovaCare Complex on Saturday during their final practice of the first week of training camp.

Like the previous three practices, the team wore shells and shorts as they took part in a light-contact workout. The media was allowed to watch the practice in its entirety.

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

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Here are seven observations from Saturday’s practice:

Early scare sidelines DeVonta Smith

The Eagles’ first-round pick provided a scary moment for the military members and their families on Saturday. During the first 11-on-11 session of the night, DeVonta Smith attempted to catch a pass from QB Jalen Hurts that required him to stretch his body. Smith collided with a defender during the play and when he got up he lightly hobbled back to the offensive side of the field. His helmet was taken from him and Smith watched the rest of the practice with teammates.

Clearly, the Eagles weren’t too concerned about Smith’s injury, as he stood for another hour and a half with his teammates. However, the team did issue an update that Smith is receiving further evaluation for a leg injury.

Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins return

On a positive note, former first-round wideout Jalen Reagor took part in team drills for the first time during camp. He worked with the second-team offense as he began to get more acclimated with the offense. Prior to practice, head coach Nick Sirianni addressed Reagor’s failed physical at the start of camp and noted that a recent tragedy -- reportedly the death of a close friend -- understandably was on Reagor’s mind. Sirianni said the entire organization is providing Reagor with support, and after the press conference, Sirianni was seen joking around with Reagor during an initial stretch period.

Former sixth-round pick Quez Watkins also returned to team drills after missing the first three workouts with a non-COVID illness. Watkins made an impressive leaping grab over cornerback Michael Jacquet during 1-on-1 coverage drills. Watkins is competing for a roster spot with the likes of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, John Hightower, Michael Walker, Adrian Killins, Jhamon Ausbon and Andre Patton.

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

Running backs run wild

For the second consecutive practice, multiple running backs pulled off impressive runs. During the first 11-on-11 session of the workout, Miles Sanders sliced through defenders after a pitch from Hurts. Sanders picked up steam as he crossed mid-field and pointed to the end zone as he galloped in front of FS Anthony Harris for a 60-yard gain.

Later on, Jason Huntley picked up a breakaway touchdown after a very slippery cut between defenders. Huntley turned on the jets for his final jaunt to the end zone. Huntley has looked very fast this summer.

Kerryon Johnson received cheers from former Lions teammate, CB Darius Slay, as he pulled off a big-chunk run. The practice was very lively between the offensive and defensive sidelines as both groups talked smack after big plays on each side.

Boston Scott broke away for a huge gain on a screen pass and looked more quick than fast as he weaved through defenders. This running back stable as a whole has potential.


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Another mixed bag for Jalen Hurts

Prior to practice, Sirianni noted two “great” throws by Hurts from Friday’s session. The head coach singled out Hurts’ red-zone touchdown passes to TEs Dallas Goedert and Jason Croom (read more about those here). Sirianni showed some legitimate confidence in Hurts following his best performance of camp.

Saturday, Hurts followed that effort up with another mix-and-match performance. Hurts launched an absolute dime to TE Zach Ertz in 11-on-11 drills, as the tight end beat DB Elijah Riley down the sideline with a double move (more on that later). He also had an impressive throw to WR Travis Fulgham on an out-route in practice.

On the flip side, Hurts threw an interception over the middle to linebacker T.J. Edwards, who made a diving double-clutch catch. Hurts has gained a reputation for holding the ball too long, and on a few occasions, he was “sacked” as a result. He also had a botched snap early in the session.

QB EVALUATIONS: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Offensive Play of the Day

Zach Ertz might want a change-of-scenery, but you can still see why Howie Roseman and the rest of the organization want him in Philly. Hiding his Vanilla Ice stylings under his Eagles helmet, Ertz broke free from DB Elijah Riley on a double move during 11-on-11 drills. Hurts floated the ball on the money to Ertz, over his left shoulder, and the tight end caught it in stride. Ertz gained another 20 yards after the catch. The TE looks to be in great shape and his ability is still clearly there.

On another note, Ertz and Sirianni seem to chat almost daily during the stretch periods. Hold onto your hats, folks: both have been seen smiling while chatting with each other. From requested banishment to bromance? Stay tuned for the next episode of “As the Shoulder Pads Turn.”

Defensive Play of the Day

Linebacker T.J. Edwards isn’t known for being a quick-twitch athlete, but he’s routinely made plays over-the-middle against the passing attack this week. Edwards made an impressive diving interception off a Hurts throw during 7-on-7 on Saturday. Edwards double-clutched the ball due to the velocity of the throw, but he was able to recover as he fell to the ground. He then got up untouched and picked up an additional chunk of yardage.

Edwards is competing for a starting job with Alex Singleton -- and maybe Davion Taylor -- opposite Eric Wilson, and so far, he’s looked pretty good in nickel coverage. Singleton (COVID-19 reserve list) and Taylor (quadriceps) were both held out of Saturday’s workout.

Injury updates

Speaking of Taylor, he was the only new injury added to the list on Saturday. Taylor had been working with the first-team defense throughout the first three practices of the week. The Eagles have listed Taylor as day-to-day with the quadriceps injury.

Joining Taylor on the sideline were RG Brandon Brooks (hamstring), CB Shakial Taylor (lower body), CB Nate Meadors (hamstring) and LG Isaac Seumalo (hamstring). The Eagles are listing Brooks and Taylor as day-to-day, while Meadors and Seumalo continue to be week-to-week. Shakial Taylor, despite being listed as day-to-day, has yet to practice.

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.

QUICK HITS

- WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside crawled to the sideline after being hit low on an attempted catch during 11-on-11 drills toward the end of practice. Arcega-Whiteside was met by trainers and eventually returned to the offensive side of the field with teammates. Following practice, the Eagles confirmed that Arcega-Whiteside was fine. He stayed after practice to work on his hands with TE Caleb Wilson.

- Despite the Hurts interception, this clearly seemed to be the offense’s best practice to date. Prior to this session, the defense dominated the offense. There were still some bad plays on the offensive side, but for the most part, this was a pretty competitive practice.

- Kicker Jake Elliott took a turn with field goals. He went 4-of-6, missing from 33 and 49 yards out.

- Funny moment: During third-team 11-on-11 drills, undrafted rookie pass rusher JaQuan Bailey was able to beat his man and get to QB Nick Mullens. Bailey swiped the ball out of Mullens’ hand and forced a strip-sack.

Unfortunately for Bailey, defenders aren’t supposed to hit QBs in practice -- it’s why they wear red jerseys -- and he almost immediately realized he made a “good” mistake.

He sort of froze and clammed up as you’d imagine a 5-year-old being caught in the kitchen at 2 a.m. eating all the frozen popsicles from the freezer by his parents would act (it’s not like this writer speaks from experience, but that’s a good way to get brain freeze, kids).

- Backup QB Joe Flacco had a solid practice but there were a pair of minor blips during team drills. He had a pass to the flat batted at the line by 6-foot defensive tackle T.Y. McGill during 11-on-11 drills. Keep in mind, Flacco stands at 6-foot-6, six inches taller than McGill, the shortest lineman on the team.

Flacco also had a short pass nearly picked off by DB Grayland Arnold, who the QBs eyes throughout the play.

- The Eagles will be off Sunday and return to practice on Monday at 10 a.m. 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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