PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It wasn’t exactly the feel of a regular season game, but the intensity did go up a notch in South Philadelphia.
The Eagles put the pads on for the first time Saturday afternoon as training camp rolled into its sixth day. There were 11-on-11 drills and there was much more contact than in previous practices, but there were still no live periods and no tackling to the ground. However, players such as Lane Johnson were happy to practice with pads after a series of light workouts during the week.
“There’s only so much you can do with the shells on,” said Johnson. “You can’t be as physical as you want in the run game and you can’t make it look as good. That’s why they have them on now.”
While the pads were on for the first time, the offense had its best day of work this summer. Quarterback Carson Wentz was razor-sharp and receivers such as Alshon Jeffery made their share of catches, with several coming on long pass plays down the field. Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich was pleased with what transpired with his unit.
“Today was a very good day for the whole offense,” Reich said. “We had a few snafus here and there, but it was a good day. I thought in the pass game, in particular, we really executed well. It’s only one practice, so I’m not getting too excited, but that’s probably as well as we’ve executed in the passing game since I’ve been here.”
Practicing in pads even at a limited level also makes the evaluation process better for the players and the coaches. Tight End Zach Ertz believes it will be easier to analyze their mistakes now that the men in the trenches are able to play in a more physical environment. The pads had not been on for Ertz and his teammates since the end of the regular season.
“It felt great,” said Ertz. “Obviously, it’s been a long time since we played the Cowboys. We have a lot to improve on as an offense. I think we’ll go in and watch the film and get better off of it.”
The Eagles are expected to have the pads on Sunday morning when they hold their first open practice at the Linc. The coaches will likely increase the contact in practice with live periods likely to start early next week. Johnson and the rest of the linemen will be more than happy to adopt to the next phase of camp.
“It’s an adjustment and it takes a little time having these things on,” Johnson said. “Maybe tomorrow will be a little bit better.”