Eagles Notebook Day 5: The Pads are Coming Out, RB Depth, and More

It's time to separate, as it alwas is once the players begin to wear pads, plus more on DeVonta Smith injury, and the quote of the day, and Nick Sirianni's fast-paced practices
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PHILADELPHIA – On what will be the sixth day of training camp Tuesday morning, the players will put on pads for the first time.

And so it begins, the weeding out process.

It’s a game played in pads, as head coach Nick Sirianni said, so now things will begin to shake out even more than they have in the previous five practices.

Pads reveal plenty with offensive and defensive linemen, as well as running backs, and that is a position that needs to sort itself out just as the left tackle starting job will be determined with who plays better when the real contact begins.

“We throw the pads on,” said Andre Dillard, one of the combatants, along with Jordan Mailata to start at left tackle. “But I think it’s been going pretty well for me from this point, compared to how it used to go. I can’t wait till (Tuesday).”

The difference between Mailata and Dillard off the field couldn’t be starker.

Mailata is outgoing, gregarious, and a jokester with reporters.

Dillard is more introverted, more cerebral, and likes to read, volunteering two of his current books he is reading, David Goggins’ “You Can’t Hurt Me” and Matthew Walker’s, “Why We Sleep.”

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That kind of stuff won’t determine a winner.

It will be who blocks best.

Maybe there will be other intangibles factored in, too. Such as:

  • Who would make the better reserve swing tackle?
  • A contract, like the potentially mammoth one Mailata would have to get if he excels since this is a contract year for him.
  • Howie Roseman’s voice. Will the GM have an opinion in favor of the No. 1 draft pick he traded up to get Mailata in 2019 or the seventh-round gem in Mailata who arrived in 2018?

Either way, it begins today.

EYE ON RBS

As mentioned, pads will help separate the logjam at the running back spot.

There is solid depth at that position, and in this reporter’s view, Jordan Howard has looked like the second-best runner behind Miles Sanders in the first five days.

Yet, Howard’s name wasn’t mentioned by offensive coordinator Shane Steichen when asked Monday about the position.

Boston Scott after Eagles training camp practice on July 30, 2021

Boston Scott at training camp

“Boston [Scott] has been doing a nice job, Kenny Gainwell, Kerryon [Johnson], all those guys are competing,” he said. “We're trying to give everyone an opportunity. We're giving everyone, splitting the reps up, [running backs/assistant head coach] Jemal [Singleton] is doing a heck of a job splitting reps up with those guys and seeing what those guys do best.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Everybody wants to hit the money ball, the money shot, the ooh ahh play. I think it’s very important in the offense to be able to stretch the defense and have deep threats like we have. You have to be patient with it. You gotta take what they give you. When your shots come, hit them.”

– Jalen Hurts when asked about his ability so far in camp to throw the ball deep successfully.

Jalen Hurts after practice on Aug. 2, 2021

Jalen Hurts after Monday's practice on Aug. 2

SMITH INJURY
Yes, it’s a concern that on just the fourth day of his first professional training camp, the slight Smith was injured. The 166 pounds was a concern going into the draft, and it’s a concern that figures only to intensify now.

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He is expected to miss two to three weeks, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, after a Sunday night MRI revealed a sprained MCL.

If he misses just two weeks, he will miss only the preseason game with the Steelers.

If he misses three weeks, Smith won’t play against the Patriots on Aug. 19, either, leaving him only one exhibition game – against the Jets on Aug. 27 – to get ready for the season opener.

FAST PACE

So far, none of Nick Sirianni’s practices have gone longer than 90 minutes. In fact, only one has done that long.

There is no downtime, however, and maybe that will keep players fresher and healthier as camp then the season roll along.

“I think going back with Doug (Pederson), his practices were a little longer,” said guard Brandon Brooks. “With Nick, we’re out here flying around. It’s extremely high tempo. He’s a high-energy coach, guys are responding well, and he will chew some tail without swearing. He’s been exceptional thus far. I love having him here.”

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