Ravens bring spark to joint practices with Eagles

Ed Benkin
August 20, 2019 - 12:05 pm
Philadelphia Eagles

Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The dog days of summer are in full swing for the Eagles.

With training camp in the books and the regular season less than three weeks away, the Eagles are pushing through the final days of the preseason. 

There was a welcome break in the practice routine in South Philadelphia on Monday with the arrival of the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens took the field with the Eagles for the first of two days of joint practices.  

For Malcolm Jenkins and the rest of the Eagles, it was a welcome change.

"We practice really hard as a team," said Jenkins. "But there's something different when you have another opponent on the other side of the ball. I think it's just good looks where you're not used to every play. It's different and guys are competing, so I think the next two days will be good for us."

The teams practiced in pads and held live periods, but there was no tackling to the ground. There were no incidents with extracurricular activities as the teams went through a clean workout in sweltering conditions.  

Defensive end Brandon Graham could feel the extra intensity when he stepped on the field to face the Ravens.

"Having a joint practice is cool," Graham said. "I had that adrenaline rush that I have in a game. You practice against them and you want to go hard. You feel like you're in a game. You're  just giving it everything you've got.  

"Now, you've got another team watching. I think everyone was overly excited today because it was someone different." 

Something else is different in the NFL: The preseason routine continues to change every year. There is speculation that the Eagles' top players, including Carson Wentz, may not play a snap in preseason contests this summer. Coaches such as Doug Pederson are constantly looking at better ways to prepare for the regular season and many believe the joint practices are quite effective.  

Tight end Zach Ertz believes they may be even more effective then playing in a preseason contest.

"I'm getting 40 or 50 reps at practice right now going against guys that are really good," said Ertz. "It's a completely different scheme that we go against every day. If I were to play in a preseason game, I get 12 reps max. 

"These are very beneficial for me and all the starters," he continued. "It's a lot harder than a preseason game."

Eagles
Ed Benkin/KYW Newsradio
The joint workouts also created a South Jersey reunion. After recovering from a knee injury last season, Corey Clement was getting a large number of snaps with the top unit. The Glassboro native was going against Baltimore's Anthony Averett, who is a graduate of Woodbury High School.  

Averett's Thundering Herd beat Clement's Bulldogs in a 2012 South Jersey Group 1 playoff game. In 2015, Averett was on an Alabama squad that beat Clement and his Wisconsin Badgers.  

Now, they are battling again at practice. A smiling Clement said Averett can have his national championship ring from Alabama since he has a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles.

"We get a chance to do more 7-on-7," Clement said. "He's out there most of the time. We've just seen a lot of people come a long way from South Jersey. Every time we lace them up we know it's hard work, so we're ready."