Carson Wentz heats up as practice with Ravens goes on; Clayton Thorson sizzles
The heat and humidity were stifling, so much so that Monday’s scheduled practice between the Eagles and Baltimore Ravens didn’t run the expected two full hours, though an hour and 45 minutes was plenty.
“This was the hottest day I’ve ever been a part of this year,” said Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. “You had to dig deep and find it. It was superhot. I wanted to keep my helmet because the sun just felt like it was everywhere. I felt like my head was overheated a bit today.”
Tackle Andre Dillard and linebacker Zach Brown left practice early, presumably suffering from the heat, which reached 92 degrees, but had a real-feel temperature of 102.
VIDEO: Clayton Thorson talks about becoming more confident
The Eagles suffered a more serious injury, at least from the looks of it.
Tight end Richard Rodgers, who just returned to practice on Sunday after missing some time with a foot injury, pulled up limping after making a catch and turning up field. There was no contact on the play, but Rodgers went down and had to be taken off on a cart.
PHOTO: Ravens coach John Harbaugh and former Eagles great WR Harold Carmichael catch up prior to Monday's practice
Excelling in the heat were quarterbacks Carson Wentz and Clayton Thorson.
Cody Kessler took some reps after being cleared from concussion protocol, and newcomer Josh McCown got some second-team reps, but neither stood out like Wentz and Thorson.
If these two practices against the Ravens (the second one begins at 1:30 on Tuesday) are in fact the only preseason snaps Wentz gets against players in a different uniform then he certainly seemed to make the most of them on Monday.
After a bit of a sluggish start, which included a near-interception by linebacker Kenny Young, Wentz heated up nicely.
His best throw was a deep ball that to Alshon Jeffery who had gotten behind two Baltimore defenders, including safety Earl Thomas for about a 40-yard gain to the 5-yard line. Wentz hit Jeffery in stride.
Wentz did miss some deep shots later, one to Jeffery and another to DeSean Jackson, firing too long, but he was successful with his intermediate throws and had nice strikes to Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for touchdowns in seven-on-seven drills from inside the 10-yard line.
“Yeah, we want him to complete those (deep throws),” said offensive coordinator Mike Groh. “That’s one of the reasons why we called them (Monday) and wanted to practice against the Ravens. Getting more of those live reps with pushing the ball down the field. We know that those are plays we have to make and that’s one of the things we’ll work on (Tuesday).”
The Ravens boast a very solid defense, and strong secondary, but Wentz did plenty of good things on Monday. And that is encouraging from the Eagles’ point of view.
“I thought Carson did a really good job,” said Groh. “Like we have talked about all training camp, he is operating really, quickly. He’s seeing everything. He is communicating well. He knows where he wants to go with the ball. He’s picking his matchups. I love how he is working through his progressions. He has had a tremendous camp.”
If Wentz was hot, then Thorson was sizzling.
Thorson looks more confident since his solid game on Thursday night against the Jaguars. He threw four touchdowns during seven-on-sevens inside the 10, firing TDs to Carlton Agudosi, Joshua Perkins, Arcega-Whiteside, and Marken Michel.
“I feel confident these last few days,” said Thorson. “It’s about stacking days, and each day getting more confident; from the (Thursday) game to now, just gaining that confidence. Playing and having reps gives me confidence. I just have to keep stacking the days, sometimes practices out here you don’t always see it, but I feel I’m getting better.”
Running back Darren Sproles did not participate in practice, nor did left tackle Jason Peters.
Corey Clement got plenty of reps, perhaps more in this practice than at any other time. That could be a good indicator that Clement won’t play on Thursday night when the Eagles host the Ravens or, if he does, maybe the Eagles are giving a real good look-at as they begin to hone in on their final roster decisions.
“Well, he's cleared, but he hasn't played a whole lot,” said Groh. “I wouldn't say he's where he needs to be because he just needs to get more time out here. We're trying to accelerate that process here with two weeks to go. Trying to catch him up, if that's fair to say. Physically, he feels really good, and we just want to work him back in as quickly as possible.”