Training Camp Thoughts Day 4: Explosive Joe Ostman is Back

John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA - Joe Ostman was not only on his way to making the Eagles last season but having a role on the defense before a Torn ACL at an August open practice at Lincoln Financial Field derailed those plans.

Fast forward 12 months and there was concern that Ostman, an undersized edge player at 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds, would lose some of his impressive speed and get-off after the injury.

Take away that explosion and the former Central Michigan star's now three-year push for a roster spot would be dead in the water.

That concern was alleviated in emphatic fashion by Ostman on Thursday at the NovaCare Complex when he terrorized the offensive line while working on stunt drills from the inside and outside.

At one point Ostman even got the best of the powerful Sua Opeta up the middle, another box checked when you consider Jim Schwartz had been looking at Ostman for a joker role as a stand-up rusher inside before the injury.

The numbers game is still working against Ostman. Starters Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, as well as top reserves Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat, have 53-man roster spots virtually locked up and GM Howie Roseman has significant assets tied up in both Genard Avery and Shareef Miller at defensive end.

If the NFL is truly a meritocracy, however, the Eagles are going to have a tough time cutting Ostman, who is outperforming the bigger names.

NO. 2 NATE?: Eagles coach Doug Pederson continues to insist that Nate Sudfeld is the backup quarterback to Carson Wentz although Sudfeld and rookie second-round pick Jalen Hurts seemed to split reps rather evenly to date the open portion of camp and Hurts is the one making the more explosive plays.

"Nate is our No. 2, and obviously Jalen is still learning," Pederson said before practice. "Jalen, he's done some really good things for us. Again, like I mentioned, he's learning our system, and he's another one, one of our young players that's learning the game a little bit. He's got some athleticism. We've seen that in practice.

"But Nate has done a nice job for us, and Nate has come in and really done everything we've asked him to do from a backup position and really just moved the team and moved - when he's in there, executing the offense, and that's where he's at."

As a dual-threat Hurts has really excelled in the run game especially in a red-zone package installed earlier in the week but there still are some rookie hiccups like went undrafted Army safety Elijah Riley went unnoticed in the middle of the field Thursday resulting in an interception.

HIGHTOWER HIGHLIGHTS: Speedy fifth-round pick John Hightower was the offensive star Thursday, turning around Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay in one-and-one drills and also getting deep on a 40-yard bomb from Jalen Hurts, the second time he and the fellow rookie QB have hooked up for a big play in the early days of padded practices although there are contextual addendums to those plays.

Monday's bomb in team drills was during a 10/10/10 session which isn't a real competitive environment and Thursday safety Jalen Mills noted that Hurts held onto the football a little long in 7-on-7 drills and that probably wouldn't fly in a real game.

“It was a good pass,” Mills admitted before pivoting. “He held it kind of long, but that's 7-on-7 (drills) it’s an offense thing.”

FIRST-TEAM OL: After returning for a light walkthrough Wednesday, Jason Peters took his first reps at right guard in pads and we got our first look at the projected starting offensive line of Andre Dillard, Isaac Seumalo, Jason Kelce, Peters and Lane Johnson from left to right.

Kelce, by the way, is a joy to watch from his clinical protection calls in front of Carson Wentz to his amazing technique which allows an under 300-pound player know for his athleticism like Kelce to completely stone a 350-pound defensive tackle like Anthony Rush in pass-rush drills.

INJURIES: The Eagles continue to be cautious with key players and held out running backs Miles Sanders (leg) and Boston Scott (lower body), tight end Dallas Goedert (upper body), defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (pec strain) and defensive end Derek Barnett (ankle). DE Josh Sweat missed practice with an illness and DT Fletcher Cox had an agreed-upon maintenance day while receiver Deontay Burnett left practice for the injury tent at one point but was able to return and finish the session.

"We do a lot of things that are planned with our preparation," said Pederson. "We only have so many days to get our football team ready for the opener, and I've got to be smart with how we practice.

"We do know that injuries are going to be a part - especially early in camp with players, and we're starting to see that just a little bit. But I'm not concerned with these guys. My focus is getting the entire team ready to go for our opener."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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