Training Camp Thoughts Day 2: Serious Competition

Nick Sirianni preaches competition so much he grades it, plus who get the practiuce game ball?
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PHILADELPHIA - There is a winner and a loser every day at Eagles practice, something Pro Bowl right tackle Lane Johnson confirmed after Day 2 of Eagles training camp.

Nick Sirianni, the team's rookie head coach, has preached competition since the day he arrived and he's backing it up by declaring a winner and a loser from each practice session.

Anyone there on Wednesday understands the defense won. 

Johnson is hopeful that the offense bounced back 24 hours later.

"What I like about it is everything is charted as far as every drill and at the end of the day you see who wins, offense or defense. Defense won (Wednesday)," Johnson admitted. "I think offense may have won (Thursday) but I’ll know (Thursday night) for sure. That’s new. I like it."

More from Day 2 of Eagles' camp:

BROOKS SCARE

The first early scare of training camp came in both a literal and figurative fashion when Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks left practice for the medical tent before heading inside the NovaCare Complex.

Brooks had had a history of injuries in recent seasons with two torn Achilles sandwiching shoulder surgery, so leaving practice early was more than a concern for most but the Eagles' quickly labeled Brooks' early withdrawal as a precautionary measure due to a tight hamstring.

With LG Isaac Seumalo already week-to-week with his own hamstring injury, the guards surrounding Jason Kelce were Nate Herbig at LG and Matt Pryor at RG.

WR LIGHT

Travis Fulgham sat out the session with a lower-body injury, joining fellow receiver Quez Watkins (non-COVID illness) on the sideline. 

Greg Ward (non-COVID illness) and Jalen Reagor (lower body) were both able to return individual drills but sat out team drills, making things difficult for the offensive coaching staff at the position.

One player taking advantage of the reps was little-known receiver Michael Walker, a player new Eagles personnel executive Dave Caldwell has a history with from their time in Jacksonville.

Walker has shown very impressive quickness during the first two days of camp.

DEVONTA BOMB

One WR who was out there was first-round pick DeVonta Smith and the first DeVonta Bomb of the summer created the most buzz of the day as he beat newly-signed cornerback Steve Nelson on a go-route during 7-on-7 drills.

The Jalen Hurts-to-Smith hookup went for about 80 yards and sailed 40-or-so yards in the air.

BACK AND FORTH

Andre Dillard took the first day in the left tackle competition, getting most of the first-team reps and holding his own. On the second day, however, Jordan Mailata got his opportunity and looked better than Dillard, who struggled mightily with Derek Barnett in one-on-one drills.

MORE FROM CAMP: Lane Johnson Weighs in On Battle to Start at Left Tackle ...

MILES AND THE LITTLE THINGS

In between one set of drills, Miles Sanders was off to the side with a coach purposefully tossing him poorly thrown balls and the third-year running back was snaring everything. It was an early positive sign for a player who took a serious step back in that phase of the game in 2020.

Eagles RB Miles Sanders at practice on June 4, 2021

Miles Sanders

DEFENSIVE DEPTH CHART

Jonathan Gannon is looking for his best options in the back seven. On Thursday linebackers T.J. Edwards and Shaun Bradley got some first-team looks, a day after the speedier duo of Eric Wilson and Davion Taylor got most of the work.

On the back end, Marcus Epps and K'Von Wallace rotated next to Anthony Harris at safety as Rodney McLeod continued his rehab work on a side field. Meanwhile, Craig James got a few reps at cornerback with the first-team in place of Nelson, who arrived on Monday after no offseason work and likely needed a bit of a breather.

"Man, it's been a grind," Nelson said. "It's Day 2. It already feels like two weeks. Just coming in and trying to get adjusted. Learning on the fly. I knew it would be like that this late in the process."

Speaking of speed, Taylor indicated that he can reach 20 to 21 MPH via GPS tracking and could be a dark horse to start opposite Wilson at LB because Gannon's history foreshadows a desire to have very athletic LBs.

HURTS SO BETTER

After a poor first practice from an accuracy standpoint, QB Jalen Hurts was a little better on Thursday. Besides the Smith bomb, Hurts was spotted throwing an excellent seam pass to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and another decent-gainer to John Hightower, who got first-team reps for the first time this summer due to the injury issues at WR. Hurts' worst throw was a bad misfire to Zach Ertz.

DeVonta Smith (left) and Jalen Hurts lave the field after first day of training camp, July 28, 2021

DeVonta Smith (6) and Jalen Hurts

PRACTICE GAME BALL

Let's give it to Smith because he struggled against Wednesday's game-ball winner, veteran CB Darius Slay. The big play Thursday ignited the fans in attendance and seemed to give the session some juice.

Honorable mentions go to Walker and QB/turned tight end Tyree Jackson, who have both been excellent through the two sessions.

MORE FROM CAMP: Jonathan Gannon's Mix-and-Match Defense Likely to ...

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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.