Eagles Training Camp Notebook: First Skirmish of Summer, Return of DeVonta Smith

Eagles Training Camp Notebook: First Skirmish of Summer, Return of DeVonta Smith

PHILADELPHIA – Throughout most of training camp, as temperatures pushed 90 degrees and the humidity was searing and suffocating, the Eagles somehow remained cool, keeping their tempers in check.

Then came Sunday, Day 11, and one of the cooler days of camp. Though still warm, it was a mostly overcast and comfortable morning.

Yet, it was on this day when the first skirmishes of camp happened.

There were two, both involving backup left tackle Andre Dillard, usually one of the more mild-mannered players on the team.

The first one saw Dillard and Derek Barnett get into during a one-on-one blocking drill. Both players ended up on the ground after it appeared Dillard had won the rep and Barnett took a swing.

On the second, which came late in the 90-minute practice, Dillard seemed to anchor nicely against Patrick Johnson on a bull rush, but Johnson took exception and gave Dillard a shove after the whistle. 

Dillard took offense and took a swing at Johnson and that’s when Johnson started throwing some punches of his own.

Dillard’s helmet came off and he staggered backward. Both the second-team offense and defense converged and started pushing and shoving while Dillard seemed to be covering his face as he walked away. He then went into the trainer’s tent.

The Eagles said he was getting checked out because he is coming off a concussion and took some hits to the head. It was a precautionary action.

Some players were asked what they saw, if anything.

WR Quez Watkins said, he didn’t see it, but used the extra time it took to separate everyone to get a breather.

Davion Taylor added: “I was actually about to catch an interception, um, pick. When I missed the ball, I looked over and it was happening.

“But one thing that coach emphasized at practice was making sure that we don’t take that aggression out each other So we’re going to take that aggression out on the field, and not just throw hands with our teammates.”

SMITH RETURNS

DeVonta Smith was back at practice after missing a week with a groin injury, and the Eagles appeared to feed the second-year receiver plenty.

He made the play of the day on a nifty pass from Jalen Hurts that just arched above the outstretched hands of both Avonte Maddox and Zech McPhearson. Smith was behind both and went high to make the catch, keep his feet, and run into the end zone from there.

The play drew big applause from the crowd.

Smith also beat James Bradberry during one-on-one drills and Jalen Hurts threw a strike for a TD.

BRITAIN COVEY UPDATE

It looks like the undrafted free agent doesn’t have sprained ligaments in his right thumb despite telling a reporter that he did following Friday’s game vs. the Jets.

“He can do a lot of things, like he’s a good punt returner, he can play in the slot or sometimes he can play outside,” said head coach Nick Sirianni, who then jokingly added, “he told me he can be a priest, but he is not a doctor. I’ll tell him to keep his doctor opinions (to himself).

“He has a sprain. He said torn ligaments and that’s not what it is. That’s why he should focus on what he’s doing.”

Covey was limited in Sunday’s practice and appears to be able to still do some things that could help him land a roster spot.

OBSERVATIONS

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There were just a few standout plays on the offensive side, but overall that unit looked sluggish.

Quez Watkins and Kenny Gainwell, who returned from a few days away due to a hip injury, both carelessly lost fumbles.

Watkins made a reception over the middle during 7-on-7, but as he turned up field, a defender slapped the ball out and it was recovered by Taylor.

Gainwell made a catch near the sideline, but when he turned his back, he forgot to tuck away the ball because Kyzir White popped it loose. The LB then recovered his own forced fumble.

There was also a botched handoff between Hurts and Gainwell that landed on the ground. Milton Williams was close enough to fall on it.

Hurts, though, made several nice throws, though he mixed in some that weren’t so nice.

His best may have been the throw to Smith, but he also had a nice deep toss to Watkins down the left sideline that hit the speedy Watkins in stride despite good coverage from McPhearson and with safety Josiah Scott rolling quickly toward him.

Put Josh Sweat down for two sacks – or what passes for sacks when QBs wear red jerseys – and Patrick Johnson one.

GUEST APPEARANCES

Sixers GM Daryl Morey was in attendance as was former Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks.

It was the first practice Brooks watched since officially retiring in January. He said he lost 50 pounds and is down to 290 and began taking graduate courses in management finance two weeks ago at Penn’s Wharton School and does not miss football.

Retired guard Brandon Brooks took in Sunday's practice on Aug. 14, 2022

Brandon Brooks was at camp on Sunday.

INJURY UPDATE

Safety Jaquiski Tartt was back after missing three practices and Friday night’s game due to personal reasons. His reps continue to come primarily on the third team.

Miles Sanders missed the session with leg soreness.

Boston Scott continues to miss time with a concussion and Greg Ward continues to miss time with a toe injury.

Kenny Gainwell returned, however, from a hip injury that cost him a couple of practice and playing time in the preseason opener on Friday night.

ROSTER MOVES

The Eagles got a jump on having to trim their roster to 85 by Tuesday at 4 p.m. by releasing LB Ali Fayad and OT William Dunkle.

COMING UP

The final practice fans will be allowed to watch will be Tuesday. The Eagles will then travel to Cleveland on Wednesday for joint practices against the Browns on Thursday and Friday. Both practices will begin around 2 p.m.

The two teams will then play Sunday at 1 p.m.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“We’re going to the Dawg Pound (in Cleveland), so it’s time to be a dog.” – WR Quez Watkins.

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.

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