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Eagles practice report: Stats, grades for Wentz and Kessler

Eliot Shorr-Parks
August 11, 2019 - 12:02 pm

It is looking more-and-more like the Eagles are using their training camp practices at the NovaCare Complex as their preseason games. 

For the second straight day head coach Doug Pederson had his first-team offense get a ton of work in what was around a two-hour practice. The first-team offense saw the large majority of the reps, with the third-team offense barely seeing the field. 

Here is a look at how the quarterbacks did on Sunday: 

Wentz: After being for the field a whopping 57 reps on Saturday, Wentz didn’t get much of a break on Sunday, as he took 44 reps with the first-team offense. Wentz was sharper than he was on Saturday and made a few highlight-worthy throws. His best of the day was a play where he rolled out to the left, something he hasn’t done much in camp, and found receiver Alshon Jeffery down the sideline for about a 20-yard gain. Wentz also had a really nice completion to tight end Zach Ertz over the middle, squeezing it between two defenders. Wentz’s arm strength has been on display throughout camp, both in how effortlessly he can fling it 50-plus yards, but also with how quickly he is able to get the ball out and into tight windows. 

Wentz had a chance twice to connect on long touchdown passes. On the first he under threw receiver DeSean Jackson, who almost came down with it but had to slow up and essentially compete on a jump ball with cornerback Sidney Jones. On the second Wentz had receiver Marken Michel deep, but put it about five yards ahead of Michel. 

Interceptions continue to be an issue for Wentz as well. 

Wentz threw two more interceptions on Sunday, and it really should have been three if cornerback Rasul Douglas didn’t drop a ball that hit him right in the hands at the start of practice. The pass by Wentz was too far ahead of receiver Nelson Agholor, but Douglas wasn’t able to make Wentz pay. 

Safety Malcolm Jenkins did make Wentz pay, however, later in practice when Wentz tried to squeeze it into an area with two defenders. The throw was a risky one and the result was an interception. Later on in the same 11-on-11 session Wentz threw a pass into super tight coverage, and after the pass was batted away, cornerback Avonte Maddox caught it before it hit the ground. 

Over the last two practices Wentz and the first-team offense have been on the field for 101 plays. Wentz twice as many interceptions (four) as he does touchdowns (two) during those snaps, and his interception total for camp is now up to nine. Wentz hasn’t had an interception problem in his career, but it is hard to ignore the obvious issue he is having in camp with taking care of the ball. 

Stats: 21/32, 0 TD, 2 INT

Grade: C+

Kessler: Kessler isn’t doing anything to lose his new role as backup quarterback, but he isn’t doing much to impress the coaches either. One issue Kessler has had since coming to the Eagles is holding onto the ball too long, and that continued on Sunday. Kessler had two plays whistled dead on him because he didn’t get rid of the ball, even though there wasn’t much pressure on him. It is good for the Eagles to see their secondary creating coverage sacks, but the blown plays seem to be more the result of Kessler not pulling the trigger as opposed to nobody being open. 

When Kessler did throw the ball on Sunday it was mostly on a check down to his running back, as nine of his 13 completions were to backs in the flat. The difference between Kessler and Wentz when it comes to a willingness to throw the ball down the field is drastic. Kessler hasn’t turned the ball over in the last two practices, which is a positive, but his conservative play hasn’t gotten anything going with the second-team offense either. 

Stats: 13/17, 0 TD, 0 INT

Grade: C

Thorson: The Eagles have put an emphasis on the first-team offense over the last two practices, and as a result, third-string quarterback Clayton Thorson has barely been on the field. Some fans might argue that is a good thing, considering how poorly he played in the preseason opener. 

Still, if Thorson is going to improve he is going to need reps, and he simply isn’t getting them in practice. 

Thorson was on the field for just six reps on Sunday and attempted just two passes, bringing his total to an alarmingly-low six over the last two days. It appears Thorson is going to have to go through his growing pains during the preseason games, which isn’t completely fair to the quarterback, and should produce plenty more performances like the one he had against the Titans. 

Stats: 1/2, 0 TD, 0 INT

Grade: B+

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