The increased energy was hard to miss on the fields of the NovaCare Center on the first day of joint practices between the Eagles and Patriots. After getting warmed up separately, the two teams engaged in a lively two-hour practice that featured plenty of one-on-one's and team drills.
After nearly three weeks of camp, the chance to work against some new faces and schemes was a welcomed one.
"Anytime you have the opportunity to come out here and see any type of differences that you're unfamiliar with, it's good," said Cam Newton, who again took the first-team reps and worked mostly against the Eagles' top defensive unit. "For us, the monotony of camp hit a couple of days ago. Going against the same defense, going against the same coverage, going against the same looks...
"Days like this, trying to find enthusiasm and juice, it's kind of easy. That's the good thing about it. For so long we've been in Foxboro and going against each other, so now when you get a taste of something different, you see the energy is pretty much set as soon as you walk out here."
For Newton, this is just another example of the valuable experience he never got last summer.
"I got a year of learning," said the quarterback, noting his improved familiarity with the system and coaches. "That's the difference rather than being thrust in with only five weeks to prepare. Familiarity brings some type of swagger, confidence."
For Mac Jones, fresh off a promising first taste of NFL action, it was another dose of high-quality reps to be learned from.
"It was cool," said Jones after practice. "Just changing the atmosphere, coming out here. Obviously, they're going to give us many more different looks and stuff out here. Games are always the most fun so we're just trying to practice. It was a good practice, they played well, we played well, but we're already moving onto the next one."
5 takeaway from Eagles joint practice no. 1
- A sporadic day for the offense, who seemed to be clicking a bit better in individual drills than full team work. In the final 11-on-11 situational work, Cam Newton moved the offense down the field but struggled to finish the drive, giving his receiver a chance to make a fourth-down play that was intercepted. Under Mac Jones, the offense didn't move the ball quite like it did under Newton, however Jones was able to finish his drive with a pretty throw to N'Keal Harry in the end zone. After an up and down day, it was a nice way to end the session.
- The depth at cornerback took center stage for much of practice as JoeJuan Williams saw extensive work on the outside with the top unit. Jonathan Jones might've been banged up and that could've contributed a bit to the shuffling, but Williams, Michael Jackson, D'Angelo Ross and even Justin Bethel got plenty of work while Jalen Mills did some work in the slot.
- After bouncing back from what looked like a foot or toe injury last week, Christian Barmore continues to see expanded work as an early-down defender. It's a good sign for the second-round pick, who somehow looks even bigger now wearing no. 70. Barmore looks like he's going to be a force along the defensive line.
- Nelson Agholor is another player who returned to full participation after missing some time and he stood out with multiple downfield catches in early drills. Agholor's speed and ability to get behind the defense is showing up more and more frequently. He could really be an exciting new weapon that could help open up the offense.
- With Matt LaCosse leaving after what looked like a concussion, the dwindling depth at tight end was hard to ignore. Jonnu Smith missed the session and Hunter Henry was present but not a full participant, as the offense was down to just Devin Asiasi and Troy Fumagalli. This could be challenging as the team looks to work with more multiple tight end sets.
Quotes of Note
Jalen Mills on what he's learned so far playing under Bill Belichick:
"I think the biggest thing with Bill is the expectation that he has for each and every player... offense, defense, and special teams. I think it's the kind of thing that once he walks into a room you just feel his presence and you know he expects nothing but excellence."
Nelson Agholor on getting to practice against his former team:
It was fun because at the end day we came out here to compete, to learn, to grow as players. So it was fun for me. The cool part about it is the guys I played with also working on their craft and enjoying the game of football.
Kyle Van Noy on joint practices:
"When you do these join practices they're really good experience for everybody. Older guys, younger guys, coaches as well and going against a different team that gives you a different look. The Eagles did a good job today, we had some ups and downs but we're gaining experience and this is really, really good for the team."