It was a pick-fest for the Eagles’ defense on the second day of their practices against the visiting Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, with the Birds recording four interceptions, though it should have been six.
While the Eagles’ defense was making life miserable for Baltimore’s offense, one of the Eagles’ backup quarterbacks, Josh McCown, was lighting it up pretty nicely on another sultry South Philly day not fit for man or beast.
The heat may have been a reason there were a couple mini scuffles, nothing major, though one took place during what was an end-of-practice scrimmage. It was just a bunch of players pushing and shoving on the ground. No biggie.
VIDEO: Josh McCown talks about practicing with Ravens
Meanwhile, McCown was running second-team reps and dropping dimes here and there and everywhere. During one 11-on-11 sequence, he completed four straight passes, and all were to different locations on the field. He hit a diving Alex Ellis on a crossing route in the middle of the field to start the series.
Greg Ward was the next target, with McCown hitting him in stride. Rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside then got open on a deep route that covered about 30, 35 yards. The final connection was with Corey Clement in the flat to McCown’s right. Clement was wide open and he took the ball in stride and picked up a chunk of yards.
“Usually coming into a situation like this once or twice during a season where at least you’re going against your defense and you’re getting familiar with the scout team, but to walk into this situation where your first snaps are against an opponent, it’s different,” said McCown. “It’s a challenge, but it made it fun. The Ravens have done a great job working with us. We got two great days of work in, so Thursday night should be fun.”
McCown said he wasn’t sure how much he will play when the Eagles host the Ravens in the third preseason game, especially with Cody Kessler having returned from concussion protocol and taking reps this week. There’s also Clayton Thorson, who had a strong day passing on Monday.
As for the Eagles’ defense, it wasn’t a good day for backup Trace McSorley. He threw three interceptions, with Tre Sullivan, Ajene Harris and Jeremiah McKinnon picking off the rookie passer from Penn State.
Vinny Curry (pictured above left with Jason Peters) had the fourth interception of the day, extending to make a swipe of Ravens starter Lamar Jackson on a short pass over the middle. Curry went to the ground to make the pick, got up and began to run. As he did, he tried to lateral to Avonte Maddox, but the ball fell short. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway had it been a real game because the whistle had blown the play dead before Curry got off the ground with the ball.
Linebacker T.J. Edwards had one of the should’ve-been interceptions, but couldn’t corral a ball that hit him the gut. It would’ve likely been a pick-six. The other should’ve-been INT was from Rasul Douglas. It appeared, however, that Malcolm Jenkins deflected the ball, which hit Douglas in the breadbasket and caromed to the ground.
Here are some other practice observations:
- McKinnon keeps showing up. The cornerback from Florida International had a nice pass break-up during goal-line, seven-on-seven, swatting away a Jackson pass intended for rookie receiver Miles Boykin in the end zone. McKinnon is a roster longshot, but a solid bet to be added to the practice squad.
- Ronald Darby lined up with the starters during 11-on-11 opposite Sidney Jones. This could be the starting corner duo in the season opener. Darby was still wearing a brace on his left knee, something he doesn’t want to have to wear once the games count. Meanwhile, Rodney McLeod was also the starting safety in 11-on-11s, and he appeared to be wearing a sleeve over his reconstructed knee.
- Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan had a nice pass rush that would’ve been a sack, but Jackson threw the ball into the dirt in 11-on-11.
- Alshon Jeffery had a nice gain off a receiver screen, which was notable for the downfield blocking work from Jordan Mailata.
- It wasn’t all good for Mailata. He failed to pick up a Ravens twist at one point, and line coach Jeff Stoutland was in Mailata’s face, asking him in a not-so-gentle way, what happened?
- Mack Hollins had his second drop in the last three practices, this one on a beautifully thrown deep ball from Carson Wentz with a defender on Hollins’ back. Later one, Hollins made a nice double stutter move to get open and caught a ball from Cody Kessler. Hollins also had a nice catch across the middle that he seemed to have to wrestle away from a Ravens defender.
- It was a mixed bag in combo blocking drills, with two offensive linemen versus two defensive linemen. Rookie Andre Dillard shined, stoning rookie linebacker Aaron Adeoye and, later, linebacker Matthew Judon. Stefen Wisniewski and Matt Pryor worked together and were beaten twice by defensive tackles Willie Henry and Brandon Williams.