Eagles training camp 2022: Progress reports for rookie class

The Eagles have already had most of their training camp practices of the summer but still have four total joint practice sessions against the Browns and Dolphins on deck and still have two preseason games left too.

Plenty of time for rookies to earn roster spots or playing time.

But now that we’ve made it about halfway to final cuts, let’s take a moment and give some progress reports on every Eagles rookie in training camp. We’ll go through the draft picks first and then the UDFAs in order of guaranteed money:

DT Jordan Davis: The Eagles traded up a couple spots to draft the 6-6, 340-pound nose tackle from Georgia and the early returns are very promising. Everyone is enamored with Davis’s size but it’s more than that. It’s that he’s as big as he is but he is still a really fluid athlete. From the moment the Eagles put pads on the second week of camp, Davis has been shining. Initially, those flashes came in 1-on-1 drills but he’s also been really impressive in team drills and that carried over into the first preseason game.

Davis didn’t register a single statistic in that game but was still dominant. It’s a good reminder about how much a player can change a game without piling up stats. In addition to his play, Davis has a really fun personality and his humility while talking about his viral 1-on-1 rep etc. Cam Jurgens was impressive. Sometimes it can take a long time for players without stats to get the recognition they deserve. But the forceful style of Davis and his jovial personality might help him get that recognition a little earlier. He’ll deserve it.

C Cam Jurgens: Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni obviously doesn’t want to compare Jurgens to Jason Kelce but it’s impossible to avoid it. Heck, the Eagles probably don’t draft Jurgens in the second round out of Nebraska without that comp and watching Jurgens in that first preseason game you couldn’t see Kelce. Jurgens is 6-3, 303 pounds but what he lacks in size, he makes up for in athleticism and technique. What has really stood out to me is Jurgens’ understanding of leverage. Sure, sometimes Davis gets good push on him, but Jurgens holds his own against a guy who has three inches and nearly 40 pounds on him.

The other impressive thing about Jurgens is that none of this is overwhelming him. When Kelce missed the beginning of training camp as he recovered from COVID, Jurgens stepped in and it was natural. Now that Kelce is missing a few weeks after elbow surgery, this time will only further boost that confidence for Jurgens. The plan is obviously for Jurgens to basically have a redshirt season but I have no doubt he’d be ready to play if the Eagles need him at center. Oh yeah, and that plan to cross-train him at guard? We’re not really seeing that. Jurgens could perhaps fill in at guard if the Eagles are desperate but he’s a center. And he me might end up being a really good one.

LB Nakobe Dean: The Eagles really did think about drafting Dean in the second round and they were thrilled when the undersized linebacker from Georgia was still there in the third. Many thought they got the steal of the draft. We still don’t know that yet, but Dean is coming on stronger recently. It had been a pretty quiet training camp for Dean, who has mostly worked with the second team, but he stood out in the first preseason game. He had five tackles and even cleaned up behind his college teammate Davis. Not too surprising to see Dean play well in the game. Sorry for the cliche, but he’s a gamer. We all saw that when he quarterbacked the Georgia defense.

The one problem for Dean is that the linebackers in front of him on the depth chart are all performing above expectations. TJ Edwards and Kyzir White appear to be the starting duo for the Eagles. And even third-year linebacker Davion Taylor has been flying around making plays. that doesn’t mean Dean won’t find a role as a rookie; it just means his path to expanding that role might not be as easy as we once thought. But the Eagles have still found ways to mix him in with the first team more and more and I’m still convinced Dean will play at least in certain situations for the Eagles.

LB Kyron Johnson: The Eagles’ first of two sixth-round picks. At Kansas, Johnson played a bunch of positions but finished out his college career as a defensive end. That versatility should help him in Philly, where the Eagles are listing him as a linebacker. Really, he’s a SAM linebacker, which means he’s basically an edge rusher who will occasionally be asked to drop into coverage. He’s battling with Patrick Johnson, a seventh-round pick from last year, to be Haason Reddick’s backup. After a relatively slow start to his summer, Johnson began to feel more comfortable in the defense a couple weeks ago and has made some plays since then. He’s had some really good battles with UDFA offensive tackle Josh Sills during 1-on-1s and in team drills.

Johnson is also the subject of my Surviving Camp series this summer. I talk to him weekly throughout camp to check on his progress. He’s an easy player to root for. Really humble and focused.

TE Grant Calcaterra: The Eagles’ final draft pick of 2022 got off to an impressive start in training camp. He looked like a really smooth pass catcher and was making plays. But then he has an hamstring injury and has now missed considerable time. Calcaterra made it through just three practices before showing up on the injury report Aug. one.

“We will probably play him conservative as far as his recovery just so we don’t have a setback there,” Sirianni said on Aug. 1. “I’d like to say he was having a good camp and making some plays. He’s got pretty good instincts, so we’ll look forward to getting him back.”

While Calcaterra was impressive early in camp, he’s now missed eight days of practice and one game. As a sixth-round pick, his roster spot is n’t guaranteed. Can’t rush him back from a soft tissue injury but hopefully he’ll be 100% soon.

QB Carson Strong: The Eagles handed Strong a contract that included an incredible $320,000 guaranteed. There was a time not long ago when Strong was thought of as a high-round pick but concerns about his knee left him undrafted. We know Strong has a strong arm and we’ve seen it at times in camp, but we really haven’t seen much else from him. Reid Sinnett, the incumbent No. 3, is clearly ahead of Strong for that third-string QB job. And with limited practice reps every day, Strong is often skipped in the rotation, which is a shame. In the first preseason game, Sinnett played the entire second half — Sinnett struggled but eventually put a drive together late — and Strong didn’t play.

Sirianni indicated that we’ll see much more of Strong in the remaining two preseason games. I’m looking forward to that. Because it’ll be our first extended look at him.

DT Noah Elliss: I had high hopes for Elliss, the big nose tackle from Idaho. But Elliss was not able to participate in OTAs and the Eagles cut him with a non-football injury designation (any injury that pre-dates the NFL, even if it was a football injury, is considered non-football) on July 26. So Elliss didn’t even make it to camp.

RB Kennedy Brooks: The 213-pound running back from Oklahoma hasn’t flashed as much as his smaller running back teammates but he’s been solid and runs hard. Thanks to some injuries to his fellow backs, Brooks has gotten increased reps, which can only help him. In the first preseason game, Brooks had 7 carries for 26 yards.

CB Mario Goodrich: While he was initially No. 24 in Philly, he was forced to change to No. 32 when the Eagles signed James Bradberry. And then he changed to No. 31 for training camp after the Eagles released Craig James. So he has already worn three different numbers since his arrival. Goodrich flashed a few times early in camp but is still facing an uphill battle to make the team despite the $ 217K guaranteed in his contract. I’d have him second among the three UDFA corners.

OL Jarrid Williams: The Eagles released Williams right before the start of training camp but after a few injuries at the tackle position, brought him back on Aug. 7. He wears No. 67 now and played 25 snaps in the first preseason game. He allowed two pressures and a QB hit against the Jets. Williams’ best hope is to stick around as a practice squad player.

CB Josh Blackwell: Based on what I’ve seen from these UDFAs, I’d have Blackwell behind Josh Jobe and Mario Goodrich among the corners. It’s already a really crowded competition and the Duke product hasn’t done much to stand out.

WR Britain Covey: The 25-year-old rookie from Utah has become this year’s camp darling. We all saw this coming. Covey was an electric return man in college and the Eagles could really use a boost there. He did n’t have a catch in the preseason game but he looked smooth as a punt and kick returner, which is what we’ve seen in practices too. We’ve also seen his quickness as a slot receiver at the NovaCare Complex. If the Eagles keep six receivers, I actually like his chances to make the team. He hurt his thumb in the preseason game but it turns out it was just a strain and he didn’t miss any practice time. That’s great news.

CB Josh Jobe: The rookie from Alabama has been pretty impressive. He didn’t have a great showing in the preseason game — he gave up five catches for 57 and had five tackles — but he’s been really solid in training camp. Jobe hasn’t just made a few spectacular plays but he’s also been relatively consistent in practice. He’s earned quite a few snaps as the second-team corner opposite Zech McPhearson. So he might have a shot to make the team, even over a few cornerbacks who were here last season.

OL Josh Sills: Of the UDFA linemen, Sills to me is a great fit for the practice squad. The Oklahoma State product is listed as a guard, but he’s been playing quite a bit of tackle for the Eagles. In fact, when the Eagles had some injuries, we saw him get bumped up to second-team left tackle. There have even been times when he’s been elevated over Kayode Awosika at left tackle. The Eagles have a strong history of developing offensive linemen and I think Sills is one who could stick.

OL William Dunkle: There were some rough moments for Dunkle during his first NFL training camp, especially when he was asked to block Davis in 1-on-1s. The Eagles waived Dunkle on Sunday as they began to trim to 85 players.

S Reed Blankenship: The Middle Tennessee product has certainly flashed this summer at a position where the Eagles have questionable talent and depth. Blankenship has earned some second-team reps and has consistently made plays. He even performed well in the preseason game. He played 35 snaps on defense and 14 on special teams. He had seven total tackles to lead the team vs. the Jets.

LB Ali Fayad: The pass rusher, who was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, wasn’t bad at all this summer. I actually thought he had a little juice off the edge. But the Eagles released him on Sunday as their roster trim began.

RB DeAndre Torrey: The small running back from North Texas was added on Aug. 11 with some injuries to the position. Haven’t really seen enough of him yet to give any kind of report.

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