PHILADELPHIA – Eagles cornerback Darius Slay looked across at wide receiver Quez Watkins, taking his initial read steps to try to discern what route the third-year wide receiver was going to run during the seven-on-seven drill at the NovaCare Complex Saturday.
When Slay saw Watkins begin to go deep down the sideline, he began to match steps with Watkins, keeping up stride for stride. When quarterback Jalen Hurts released the ball, Slay started to see its trajectory, thinking he had a chance to get an interception. Slay got in front of Watkins, grabbed the ball, and landed on his back, all while keeping both feet inbounds to complete the interception.
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The defense looked stout again through most of the practice, with Slay’s interception being one of the highlights. The defensive line was again active, getting pressure on the Eagles quarterbacks.
The Eagles have placed more of an emphasis on turnovers this season. The Eagles finished 27th in turnovers created last season (16) and 21st in interceptions (12). Most successful playoff teams are in the upper echelon of turnover differential, something the Eagles finished even in. The more turnovers the defense can create, the better the offense has to put points on the board, especially if they operate on short fields.
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Running back Boston Scott was the latest player to be diagnosed with a concussion, forcing him to sit out practice Saturday. During Thursday’s red-zone drill, quarterback Gardner Minshew threw a pass to Scott over the middle of the field. Scott caught the ball and took a few steps, and let up as he crossed the goal line. Safety Marcus Epps came over and delivered a blow to Scott. Scott remained on the field for a few seconds before slowly getting up.
Scott joins tackles Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard as players who are out because of a head injury. Mailata and Dillard observed practice from the sideline, appearing to be trending in the right direction. Wide receivers DeVonta Smith (groin) and Greg Ward (toe) remained sidelined, along with tight end Grant Calcaterra (hamstring).
The Eagles were able to get one player back on the field. Cornerback Mac McCain was limited in practice as he continues to recover from a knee injury.
Here are some other notable items from Saturday’s practice:
-Wide receiver AJ Brown continued to have a good camp, catching a pass from Hurts across the field while stiff-arming cornerback Kary Vincent. Brown also made a good leaping attempt on a ball down the sideline against Slay but dropped the pass, appearing frustrated with himself after the play. Hurts and Brown’s timing on specific routes is getting noticeably better.
-Cornerback Josh Jobe had two straight pass breakups, one on wide receiver Deon Cain and the other on wide receiver John Hightower. Jobe’s arm length helped him dislodge the ball. The undrafted free agent appears to be getting more acclimated to the system and letting his talent show.
– When the first team offense and defense were working on one field, the second and third units were on the other. Quarterback Reid Sinnett threw a good ball to Devon Allen, who tracked the ball down for a nice catch over a defensive back.
– Deon Cain flashed again. This time, Minshew threw a pass intended for Cain. The ball was deflected by cornerback James Bradberry and looked as if it was going to fall to the ground. Cain kept his concentration and made the catch.
The Eagles will have another practice Sunday. This time, they will be holding their only public open practice at Lincoln Financial field beginning at 7 pm Tickets for the event are $10, with the proceeds going to the Eagles Autism Foundation.
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Chris Franklin may be reached at email@example.com.