Eagles training camp 2022, day 9: Britain Covey looks smooth as comeback man

The Eagles for the second time this summer moved practice up an hour to help beat the heat.

I’m not so sure it worked.

It was hot on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex Tuesday morning for a session that lasted just over 1 1/2 hours in shells. The Eagles will practice Wednesday before a road trip on Thursday and the first preseason game on Friday.

Let’s go to the observations:

1. As always, we start with the cleaning:

• Jason Kelce was noticeably absent on Tuesday morning and then we find out why. Kelce had been trying to practice due to an elbow injury, but the decision was made for him to have what the team called “cleaning” surgery Tuesday morning. Cam Jurgens took first-team reps with the offense and will be at that position until Kelce returns. The Eagles expect Kelce to return for Week 1, a league source said.

• The good news on Tuesday’s injuries was that Jordan Mailata (concussion) and Andre Dillard (concussion) returned to practice on a limited basis. They were shocked on the same day last week.

• The following players missed practice Tuesday: Grant Calcaterra (hamstring), Le’Raven Clark (hamstring), Kenneth Gainwell (hip), John Hightower (groin), Kelce (elbow), Jimmy Moreland (ankle), Boston Scott (concussion), DeVonta Smith (groin), Jaquiski Tartt (personal reasons), Kary Vincent (groin), Greg Ward (toe), Keric Wheatfall (hamstring).

• Javon Hargrave (groin) returned to practice after missing Sunday’s session.

two. I’m starting to believe the Britain Covey hype. The 5-8, 173-pound receiver has been good offensively, but I’ve been impressed with how smooth he looks fielding the ball as a punt and kicker. I can’t wait to see it in action in a few days.

The other guys working the punt return: Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins, Lance Lenoir

The other guys working on the kickback comeback: Jason Huntley, Devon Allen, Zach Pascal, Lenoir

It may be tough to keep Covey as the primary returner, but he would give the Eagles a special-teams item they haven’t had in a long time and he could handle both responsibilities. They were in the bottom third of the league in both phases last year.

3. Brandon Graham had a “catch” on team drills. The 34-year-old is still impressive despite coming back from a torn Achilles and certainly doesn’t have the mindset to get any plays off the ground. On this particular play, it was a party at the quarterback situation, with Haason Reddick and Jordan Davis also in the backfield.

Four. Gardner Minshew threw interceptions in back-to-back reps in 7-on-7. The first was a big play by safety K’Von Wallace, who dove to break up a pass in the middle of the field. The ball missed linebacker Davion Taylor, who caught it the other way.

On the next play, it definitely wasn’t Minshew’s fault. His pass went through the hands of Quez Watkins and was intercepted by Kyzir White. But White’s concentration was impressive.

5. Some notes of seeing 1 to 1 between receivers and DB:

• AJ Brown almost got a very impressive hold on James Bradberry, but Bradberry was able to knock him out at the last second. This was one of those plays where Brown deliberately reacted late to the ball so as not to deflect the pass too early. After practice, he said it’s something he works on. This time, Brown caught him out of the air, but knocked him out when he brought him down onto his body. A fan on the sidelines yelled that he was a catch, but Bradberry joked that he wasn’t. (Bradberry was right.)

• Dallas Goedert made an impressive move on a break route to shake Marcus Epps. Two of the best players in training camp going head to head.

• Reagor’s solid win over the top against second-year CB Zech McPhearson.

• Covey rocked Josiah Scott with an inside move. Covey isn’t lightning fast, but he is super fast from the slots.

• Watkins was yelled at in a replay for not looking back for the ball. He and the QB weren’t on the same page.

6. We saw an immaculate reception on Tuesday. The ball went through Brown’s hands, bounced off a defender, and then landed in the paws of Dallas Goedert.

7. Zach Pascal did a great one-handed grab during the 7v7 going down the middle. After missing several practices due to food poisoning, he has been a constant contributor since his return.

8. There’s been a lot of talk about Covey, but another UDFA stands out a bit. Safety Reed Blankenship has had a good camp and worked with the second-team defense Tuesday. There probably isn’t a roster spot available for him, but he could stick around as a development guy on the practice squad.

9. Veteran NFL defensive coordinator and former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio made his second appearance at camp this summer. Fangio doesn’t work for the team, but the Eagles often have guests at camp. Mike McCoy was brought in for several practices last summer.

“We like to bring guys that … I make it very clear to the staff that we bring guys that we have to trust them and we’re close to them,” coach Nick Sirianni said earlier this month. “Vic has some relationships on staff and it’s great to have him here. And then you use it too, right, they come in, they eat, they watch practice, and you make them work a little bit for that, right? You choose his brain.

“So, he is here because he has relationships with boys. Of course, we’d be fools not to use it. And then throughout the week we’ll have different trainers here. I know Jim Smith from Indiana University in Pennsylvania, who is a defensive coordinator there; he worked with me and that’s why he was here last week. So there will always be a relationship aspect to why a man is here. My brother will come. He is allowed to enter the practice, and I will also choose his mind when he is here.”

10 Overall, honestly, this wasn’t the most exciting day of practice. Jalen Hurts didn’t get a chance to throw a lot of passes and they worked the running game quite a bit in backup situations. And they even ended practice with a special teams drill (kicking returns) that had a fog of discomfort at the end of a long, hot practice. Hopefully, we will see more energy and enthusiasm in Wednesday’s session.

Stupid observation of the day: Usually during practice, the Eagles’ offensive players wore green jerseys and defensive players wore white. So I was a little taken aback when that was reversed on Tuesday. This also happened last year. It likely means the Eagles will wear white to their preseason game on Friday.

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