PHILADELPHIA – The Eagles pressed pause on Wednesday, at least from a public standpoint, scaling back to a walkthrough practice closed to prying eyes.
The break, after five open practices to reporters, seems like a solid sample size to bring back the Eagles Stock Exchange for 2022:
THE BULLS (SURGING STOCKS):
CB James Bradberry – Bradberry has been exceptional as the so-called CB2 opposite Darius Slay, and the best performer on the entire team in the early days of camp.
His one-on-reps with DeVonta Smith were a give-and-take on Tuesday with the slender receiver beating the veteran corner deep before Bradberry made the young wideout see stars with bullying press coverage that would have made Xavier Rhodes in his prime blush.
Cornerbacks are always going to get beat in the modern NFL but the great ones make good receivers work very hard to get everything they can and that has defined Bradberry to date.
“James is a very intelligent football player,” secondary coach Dennard Wilson said. “He’s a fast processor. He’s another guy who wants to be the best he can be.”
LB TJ Edwards – Talk of Nakobe Dean being the Week 1 starter at MIKE linebacker has dispersed because Edwards is simply too good right now.
The former undrafted free agent has remade his body over the years and the 4.87 he ran pre-draft is long in the rear-view mirror. Edwards is never going to run like Davion Taylor but his instincts and football IQ make him a better coverage player than most realize.
“I didn’t scout him coming out, but when I got here, you read everything and you talk to different people that looked at him and things like that,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “I think that if there were a couple negatives on him, they are not negatives with what we’re asking him to do.
“Actually, they’re positive.”
C Cam Jurgens – Jurgens was supposed to be the luxury pick in this year’s draft but he got first-team work right away as Jason Kelce started slowly after a recent bout with COVID,
Known for his athleticism, Jurgens has most impressed with his anchoring skills and the Nebraska native has proven to be country strong in the early going.
“It’s a lot of learning,” Jurgens said of his first NFL training camp. “Probably the toughest part is seeing the defense and how well people in the NFL disguise coverages and do things they do on defense and being able to read it. They hide things really well. But I feel like early on in practice, I feel like I belonged right way.”
S Marcus Epps – Epps has done exactly what the Eagles had hoped and seized control of one of the safety spots. He entered the league as a savvy player with very good coverage instincts but was undersized and not physical.
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Epps has since opened a gym in his native Sothern California and is now a completely different guy physically. He’s the one safety to bet on if you’re looking for the player who isn’t leaving the field on the back end this season.
RG – Isaac Seumalo – Many thought the right guard spot would be the biggest competition of the summer between Seumalo and Jack Driscoll but Seumalo was cleared for camp coming off his Lisfranc surgery and has emphatically taken control of the spot.
Driscoll has been working exclusively at policy at right tackle as the insurance to Lane Johnson’s ankle.
LB Nakobe Dean – Dean hasn’t done anything wrong and this is more about the off-kilter expectations of many who believed he should have been a first-round pick.
Dean is starting slowly and running behind Edwards, Kyzir White, Davion Taylor, and Shaun Bradley at off-ball linebacker. The rookie got a first-team cameo late in Tuesday’s practice and is going to be a good player, it will just take some time.
QB Carson Strong – This is again about expectations. Because Strong developed a big name in the pre-draft process, many expected things from an undrafted rookie. To date, however, Strong has not looked remotely ready to even be a developmental option for the Eagles.
QB Gardner Minshew Ultimately, Minshew should be fine because he’s played enough football to right the ship but his below-average arm strength has shown up early in camp because timing and chemistry are a big deal to QBs who need to rely on finesse.
The offensive coaching staff in relation to WR DeVonta Smith – The Eagles’ passing offense has been AJ Brown- and Dallas Goedert-centric through five open practices to the detriment of Smith, who is a wonderful player and only getting better.
Both Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen need to be more disciplined when it comes to getting Smith involved.
The Return Game – Right now the Eagles’ return game looks a lot like it was last year when it wasn’t nearly good enough. Perhaps players like Jason Huntley, Britain Covey, and Devon Allen change that moving forward but each looks too one-dimensional to get into the 53-man roster conversation.
QB Jalen Hurts – Hurts also looks a lot like he did last year, a unique playmaker who is inconsistent throwing the football on a day-to-day basis. The QB1 himself noted that consistency is the goal and until he reaches that bar, the hand-wringing will continue.
“We just want to be consistent, consistent in our details, consistent in our execution, knowing our assignments,” said Hurts. “And I think we’ve done a really good job of that thus far. But there’s always another level. I think that’s how I’ve always looked at it.
“Enough is never enough.”
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com’s Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Sports. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talker Jody McDonald, every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube.com and JAKIBSports.com. You can reach John at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen