• PFF's Brad Spielberger attends Tuesday's practice: The Eagles and Colts held a chippy joint practice ahead of their preseason Week 3 battle Thursday.
• Colts WR Josh Downs flashes elite release: The third-round rookie looks like he should be a weapon right out of the gate, presumably as the starting slot receiver.
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The joint practice between the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles at the NovaCare Complex in downtown Philadelphia was short-lived after a scuffle broke out less than two hours into the festivities. Eagles veteran center Jason Kelce took umbrage with a late hit on running back Kenneth Gainwell delivered by Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin, and in his own words after practice described his response as a “cheap shot.” Both teams' benches cleared, leading to a gathering of about 150 players in the middle of the field. Practice was called for the day shortly thereafter.
Despite the unfortunate ending to an otherwise productive and competitive day, the mutual respect between two organizations that have shared a lot of on-field talent, coaches and personnel staff over the years was apparent. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was asked after practice about his former offensive coordinator of two years, now the Colts' head coach, in Shane Steichen. Hurts expressed his gratitude for a coach who believed in him and shared a passion for the game of football, and is confident Steichen will carry those qualities over to Indianapolis as he helps Anthony Richardson develop.
The highlight of the afternoon was a back-shoulder throw in team drills from Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith, who made a leaping snag over a defender who wasn’t operating at nearly the same altitude. Smith cleanly high-pointed the ball and made the spectacular look routine, as he’d made a few similar grabs during one-on-one drills. A.J. Brown at times looked like a man among boys, fighting through contact at the line of scrimmage and creating enough separation to box out defenders at the catch point. Both receivers seemed to win at will in reps against the Colts' cornerbacks, a position group in a complete state of flux.
Colts slot cornerback Kenny Moore II deserves credit for seemingly going out of his way to match up rep after rep against Brown, but it was evident each time he was giving up four inches and about 35 pounds. The two talked through what they saw, which was a common theme throughout drills, before things got a little chippy.
For the Colts, wide receiver Juwann Winfree continued to impress after a solid showing against the Chicago Bears in preseason Week 2. Winfree made an impressive contested catch down the right sideline and immediately followed that up with a tough grab over the middle near the goal line, after which he came up jawing with the defense. The Colts' practice jerseys didn’t have names on them, and you heard multiple fans in the stands asking, “Who is No. 8 on the Colts?” He really stood out over the course of the day.
Juwann Winfree following up a nice outing against the Bears Saturday with a very strong joint practice against the Eagles
Letting the defense hear it, too
— Brad Spielberger, Esq. (@PFF_Brad) August 22, 2023
Third-round rookie slot receiver Josh Downs and his lightning-quick release package at the line, coupled with his shiftiness in the open field, was apparent. It looks like he should be a weapon right out of the gate, presumably as the starting slot receiver over free-agent addition Isaiah McKenzie.
The player carrying the most intrigue coming into the day was a guy not suited up in pads. That would, of course, be Colts running back Jonathan Taylor the day after it was made public that the team granted him and his representation permission to seek a trade. Fifth-round rookie running back Evan Hull made a few plays over the course of the practice, but after seeing what a back like Saquon Barkley can do in practice last week, it is apparent the Colts' committee is full of solid if unspectacular players at the moment.
Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson seemed to have good command of the huddle and what he was trying to accomplish on most reps, but he did have one late throw over the middle that led to the intended target taking quite a hit. It was not a consistent issue by any means, but Gardner Minshew appeared to be in a better rhythm.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni discussed what he learned during his first year as an NFL head coach over the preseason, and a smile flashed across his face as he recounted the week leading into Philadelphia’s final preseason game in 2022. Safety Reed Blankenship, who figures to have a sizable role on defense in 2023 following the departures of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps, was a player the team highlighted going into that final preseason game. Sirianni showed clips of Blankenship’s college highlight reel before the game and talked about some of his stats, and Blankenship went on to be one of three undrafted free agents in 2022 to make the initial roster. Expect Blankenship to make some plays in 2023.