PHILADELPHIA -- Pads were popping at the NovaCare Complex on Tuesday, as Eagles coach Doug Pederson introduced live hitting for the first time this training camp. Here are some takeaways:
Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) and Torrey Smith (back spasms) both were out, as were running backs LeGarrette Blount (personal reasons) and Donnel Pumphrey (hamstring). Pederson said none of the injuries were serious, and Jeffery essentially was given a veteran's day off.
Their absence meant opportunity for some of the other skill position players on the roster, and two in particular cashed in. Second-year running back Wendell Smallwood took the bulk of the reps with the first team and had a very strong showing. He lowered his shoulder and popped safety Terrence Brooks to finish off a long catch-and-run early in practice. During the final team period, Smallwood capped a scoring drive with a 15-yard touchdown off the left edge, shaking loose from a tackle on his way to the end zone.
Wide receiver Marcus Johnson continues to make his claim for a spot on the 53-man roster. He hauled in a long bomb from Carson Wentz down the left sideline at the start of the team period and had another strong day overall.
While Wentz got off to a strong start, he was more up and down than he had been in previous days. He forced a pass into double coverage and was intercepted by rookie Rasul Douglas -- and was also picked by Jaylen Watkins on an overthrow intended for tight end Zach Ertz. Wentz found his rhythm late, however, and capped practice with a beauty to Ertz in the right corner of the end zone.
The defensive standout to this point in camp has been tackle Tim Jernigan. Acquired from the Baltimore Ravens in April, Jernigan routinely has made his presence felt since taking over the starting spot vacated by Bennie Logan, who left for the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. Tuesday arguably was Jernigan's best day to date. He was particularly disruptive in the running game. After slicing through traffic to drop running back Corey Clement for a short gain, a spectator summed it up: "There's that man again.""He's a load, he's a load," Pederson said of the 6-foot-2, 295-pound Jernigan, who will be paired with Fletcher Cox inside. "When he's in that Wide-3 technique and splitting that B gap, he's coming full steam."
Rookie defensive end Derek Barnett continues to square off against potential Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters. As you might expect, it has been a challenge. Barnett tried a couple of different moves on Peters but was mostly stoned by the 14-year vet. He also was cleared out by guard Isaac Seumalo on a run to his side and was walled off by Halapoulivaati Vaitai on Smallwood's touchdown run. While Barnett has shown promise, the education continues.
Cornerback play continues to be a concern. Projected starter Patrick Robinson admitted to having a "terrible" day of practice after getting beat on a few occasions. Robinson has had a couple of good moments during camp but has been spotty overall. The Eagles are thin at corner, and with question marks surrounding even the starting spots, it would be no surprise if the front office continues to pursue outside options between now and the start of the regular season.
The Eagles are back at it Wednesday. Practice at the NovaCare starts at 8:15.