PHILADELPHIA -- The final day of OTA practice certainly wasn't long for the Philadelphia Eagles, who had to practice indoors due to the air quality conditions taking over the Northeast from the wildfires in Canada. Even though the Eagles wrapped things up until training camp in July, the team provided a glimpse of what to expect in six weeks.
The final open practice to the media didn't give much away, but enough to warrant what this defense is going to look like come September. Observations from a short, but telling practice season -- the final one before training camp.
Christian Elliss -- have a day
When the Eagles had 7-on-7 drills, Elliss stood out as being a first-team linebacker with Nakobe Dean (Nicholas Morrow was on the first team last week). Whether Elliss was filling in for Morrow (who wasn't present in Thursday's voluntary practice), the linebacker made sure he was noticed for his play during the session.
Elliss -- coming off an interception in last week's open practice -- picked off Jalen Hurts during the middle of 7-on-7s. Hurts was looking for Jack Stoll before Elliss jumped the route and took the ball the other way for a score. Earlier in the session, Elliss broke up a pass intended for Stoll when he was facing the first-team offense.
Make sure to keep an eye out for Elliss during training camp, as he's certainly in the mix to start alongside Dean. Elliss and Morrow will be an intriguing camp battle if the Eagles choose not to add a linebacker this summer.
Jalen Hurts starts off slow -- then rebounds
Hurts didn't have the best day throwing the football, but keep in mind this is a voluntary OTA practice (A.J. Brown wasn't present in the session). In addition to Elliss picking off Hurts, the Eagles quarterback was later picked off by undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Mekhi Garner.
Hurts threw a pass down the left sideline intended for Olamide Zaccheaus that was in Garner's reach. The undrafted free agent snagged the ball from Hurts with blanket coverage on Garner. His physicality showed on the play, which has been what Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai has been preaching this offseason.
The very next play, Hurts found DeVonta Smith on a long touchdown to redeem himself. Credit to Smith, who used a double move to put undrafted free agent rookie cornerback Eli Ricks on skates ('Bama on 'Bama) as he walked in easy for the score. Reed Blankenship was late getting over to help, so that's something to monitor as the summer progresses (Eagles are still uncertain whom starts at safety).
A so-so day for Hurts overall, but it's June.
Defensive depth chart?
In the 7-on-7 drills, Christian Elliss and Nakobe Dean were the first-team linebackers. With Darius Slay and James Bradberry not present, Greedy Williams and Josh Jobe took over first-team duties at cornerback (the second team was promoted). Avonte Maddox was back in the slot.
The starting safeties were Terrell Edmunds and Reed Blankenship while the second team was Justin Evans and K'Von Wallace. Third-round rookie Sydney Brown is still getting acclimated to things and he'll be someone to watch as camp begins, as he's been observing and watching. The Eagles mix Brown in on certain opportunities.
Linebacker and safety are definitely two positions to monitor this summer. The Eagles would like Brown to seize one of those starting safety jobs. As for linebacker? They may seek to upgrade there, but Elliss' rise of the depth chart is certainly an offseason development.
Nick Sirianni certainly went out of his way to defend Watkins in his presser final to the final practice.
"I love his attitude, and I've said this to him, and I have no problem saying it here, some people around here, and it's not in this building, we have a ton of confidence in Quez Watkins," Sirianni said. "But I kind of sense from him -- he's never said this, but oh, some people think I stink? Wait. Wait.
"That's how he's attacked every day. That's how he's attacked practices, and I think that he looks really good."
How did Watkins look in the open media session? Hurts threw a pass to a spot where only Watkins could snag it down the sideline. Watkins misread the pass as the ball went just above his stretched hands. The catch was probably one Watkins should have made.
Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus will battle for the No. 3 wide receiver job. Don't expect the Eagles to add any outside help either (a la DeAndre Hopkins).
"I'm really pleased with the group that we have," Sirianni said. "[Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and myself are always looking for opportunities to make the team better, but I really love the room that we have.
"I think we have a really phenomenal room led by A.J. (Brown) and DeVonta (Smith), who have had great springs. I'm excited about Quez (Watkins), I'm excited about OZ (Olamide Zaccheaus). I'm just excited. Britain Covey has taken another step. We have some young guys in the fold that I really like.
"So, I'm really pleased with that room. You never know what's going to happen, but I really like our room, and I'm really pleased with that room."
Who wasn't at practice?
Remember this is a voluntary session as the Eagles don't have a mandatory OTA session and Thursday was the final practice. Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Brandon Graham, Rashaad Penny, Haason Reddick, Darius Slay, James Bradberry, Dallas Goedert and Nicholas Morrow were the notable names that weren't at the final practice.