Wentz-less Eagles Practice at the Linc
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles held their second and final open training camp practice at Lincoln Financial Field for Military Appreciation Day on Sunday without the one player everyone wanted to see, rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.
Wentz was there, of course, but in a baseball cap and shorts after being diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his ribs after a CT scan on Saturday. The No. 2 overall pick suffered the injury in Thursday's preseason opener against Tampa Bay.
"The ribs are obviously a little sore but they'll be alright in due time," Wentz said on the field after practice.
Asked about a timetable for his return, the rookie said: "Nothing in particular. Contact is limited here for awhile. The goal is hopefully still in preseason I'll be ready to go but you never know with these things so we will have to see."
Wentz was his usual ebullient self on the field while signing autographs but he admitted to 973espn.com that the injury is a painful one.
"It hurts pretty good," he admitted. "I actually tried to practice yesterday and realized how bad it hurt. It hurts pretty much (in) everything I do but it'll be alright."
Along with Wentz, other notable players missing from the session in the oppressive heat that reached over 90 degrees with a heat index approaching 100 despite the late start time of 7 ET were wide receiver Jordan Matthews (knee), linebacker Mychal Kendricks (hamstring) and rookie cornerback Jalen Mills.
The biggest news on the field was the first-team offensive line in the wake of the potential Lane Johnson suspension. For the second straight day, Doug Pederson kept the star right tackle on the second team as he attempts to find the right combination for a suspension that seems a fait accompli considering how the Eagles and Johnson himself are reacting.
The big surprise was that rookie third-round pick was given the chance at left guard despite the fact that Brandon Brooks was back working in team drills on the other side, meaning veteran Stefen Wisniewski was available to flip sides. Seumalo has not looked good to date but Philadelphia is evidently trying to force feed him in an effort to accelerate his development.
"In the NFL there are absolutely no guarantees," Seumalo said. "So you show up for work humble and ready to work and whatever happens, happens. Working with Jason Peters and those guys make it easier."
From left to right the first-team line was Peters, Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Brooks and Allen Barbre, the former starter at right guard who is earmarked to replace Johnson unless the team goes outside the organization.
Wisniewski, meanwhile, stayed at RG with the second team next to Johnson and Dennis Kelly, who had been working with the twos at RT, flipped to left guard inside Matt Tobin.
THE SCHWARTZ IS WITH YOU
This kind of heat can make everyone a little testy and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz didn't seem all that thrilled that it was his turn to address the media before Sunday's night practice.
He was very tight-lipped on most subjects but did offer a little context on a few matters, starting with safety Jaylen Watkins, who seems to have positioned himself as the third safety behind starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod for now.
As you might expect, Watkins, who was drafted as a cornerback before moving to the back end, is better in coverage than in run support at this point.
"He's very athletic," Schwartz said. "He can play outside or inside. And with the athletic tight ends in the league, you need that. The biggest challenge he's going to face is tackling from the safety position."
Schwartz also addressed his want to have a deep rotation along the front four to keep everyone fresh in the fourth quarter but he indicated he will not implement it just for the sake of implementing it.
"I don't think we've kept it a secret that we want to rotate and keep them fresh," Schwartz said. "But it will be merit based. If we have four good ones, we'll rotate four. If we have five, we'll rotate five."
At defensive end that means either Marcus Smith, who recently returned from a concussion, or Steven Means, who has shown signs as a pass rusher, need to prove they belong on the field, Meanwhile, at tackle, Taylor Hart and/or Mike Martin, who has been out with a knee injury, need to prove their worth to their boss.
-The Eagles were wearing jerseys with camouflage numbers for Military Appreciation Day.
-A small crowd of just over 17,000, likely held down by both the heat and the fact that Wentz wasn't going to be able to practice, was still very engaged and gave the embattled Nelson Agholor a Bronx cheer when he hauled in a Sam Bradford pass in the end zone while uncovered in an early passing drill.
-Eric Rowe continued the climb out of the doghouse with a nice pass defense against Rueben Randle in one-on-one drills. Without Mills practicing Rowe and Aaron Grymes were the second-team corners behind starters Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks.
-The Eagles have been working on a little trickery at times and broke out a reverse to Randle who then threw the ball to backup QB Chase Daniel in the flat. Randle, meanwhile, also had the play of the night, a one-handed TD reception from Bradford with Grymes draped all over him. The inconsistency is also evident with Randle, however, as he dropped an easy TD on a corner route later in practice.
-In a bit if a surprise Cody Parkey was given the first attempt in the kicking competition but it didn't help because Caleb Sturgis continued to show a much-stronger leg. The hopefuls alternated from the right hash to left the left, starting at 33 yards and then moving to 41, 46, 48 and 54. Parkey missed from 46 and was wide left and short from 54 while Sturgis banged all of his attempts through.
In a later live session each kicker got two opportunities and made them both. By unofficial count Sturgis has missed only three kicks in all of camp while Parkey is up to 10 miscues.
-Less than an hour before the practice, the Eagles released a pair of players, offensive lineman Malcolm Bunche and wide receiver Deon Long.
Bunche spent last season on the Eagles practice squad after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA. A Newark, Delaware native, Bunche spent most of his time with the third-team at left guard this summer but also cross trained a bit lately outside at tackle. The Eagles reportedly liked his ceiling as a player last year but he obviously was not progressing as quickly as the team had hoped.
Long, meanwhile, was brought in as a camp body after receiver Jordan Matthews went down with a knee injury and is better known for being cut by Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher for bringing a woman to his dorm room at training camp.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen