LG Joel Bitonio (8.15.23)

Got a little chippy there with the Dawand Jones. What did you see? 

“We’re going into this week trying to get better in practice and work, and sometimes there are some cheap shots and things like that where you want to defend yourself. And I don’t know the exact situation, but there’s a couple shots today where we’re trying to make sure we’re getting the best out of practice and not fighting. But it was just a little heated. Second day, it always gets a little bit more fired up.”


Coach (Kevin) Stefanski tried to calm things down, too, and huddle the Eagles?

“Yeah. We don’t want to fight out here. We want to get better. And when two teams are competing, things are going to get fired up. So, it happens. But Coach tried to calm us down, and when he has offense and their defense, so we try and control those situations.”


You can try to avoid it, but can you kind of feel it coming? 

“Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s why you do two days, because three days would be bloodbath the last day. So even two days gets a little bit chippy the second day. You go back, you watch the film, you’re like, ‘Oh, we got to do this better. They got to do this better.’ And, you know, the next day is going to be a little bit more ramped up.”


So was there some stuff that you guys didn’t like that they were doing? 

“No, I mean, it’s just in our practice, you protect the quarterback. You don’t want to come close to the quarterback. You don’t want to take cheap shots, things like that. Where there might have been a couple questionable plays both ways today.”


As you walk off the field, how would you assess the way these tqo days went? 

“Personally, it was a little hot, so I’m a little tired. But no, I think there’s some growth. I think both defenses, I think yesterday probably won the day, the last two-minute period today, they obviously got the best of us, but I think there’s some growth. Some guys stepped up today for us. You get a feel against different rushers because in practice, I’m going against a couple of guys a day here. I get a couple of new guys, you know what I mean? So you feel some different rushes, you feel some different techniques. They have one of the better D lines in the league. Maybe some say the best. We have a pretty good D line, too, so it’s good to go out there and battle and test out some of your tickets.”


It looks like they were a lot of times in the eleven-on-eleven, they were going with Dawand (Jones) and Michael (Dunn) with the ones and Wyatt (Teller) and James (Hudson) with the twos. Was that kind of planned, that they were kind of mixing up some things on the right side? 

“I think Jack (Conklin) got a little banged up, and they wanted to get some reps for different guys and stuff and fill it out. I don’t know the exact reasoning, but I know they just wanted to get some reps. I know Dawand (Jones) has been doing some good things. Michael (Dunn) does some good things. So, I think they’re just trying to get them some reps against different competition as well.”


How do you feel in general about doing these joint practices? I mean, when Amari (Cooper) was talking about them yesterday, he was like, these are like playing in games. They’re so intense. How do you feel about doing this? 

“Yeah, very intense. For me, it’s like a game day. You wake up, you have those kind of nerves and stuff. It’s just a little bit different atmosphere. I think Coach Stefanski does a good job of, not having the guys that practice a lot, they don’t have to play in the game because it is like game like atmosphere. I woke up this morning a little bit sore and a little bit beat up. You run 30, 35 full speed plays against the team and it’s like half the game, so you get that feel. Today was a little bit shorter and stuff, but no, it’s good work.”


How does it feel with even from the start of training camp being able to have Ethan (Pocic) alongside you. I know last year it was kind of in the midst of things that are going with him, doing the full training camp. 

“Yeah, he’s always locked in. It’s good though. He’s focused. It’s good. We got 12 or 13 starts last year out of him. And so, to come out here and really give him camp, you start getting a better feel. Our whole line really, I mean, Pocic coming back now, but our whole line really has been together for four years outside Pocic, so we’re getting a little bit more comfortable understanding how each guy moves and the techniques and just communication and stuff.”


The communication was really there when he was in the line. How would you really separate him compared to other centers you’ve played along side of. 

“He’s good. I mean, I’ve had some good centers you know, JC (Tretter) and Alex (Mack)are my guys, but Pocic is right up there with them. He comes out there, he communicates, he competes. We joke around because he’s so focused every day. Sometimes I try and make him smile in the huddle and it never works. But no, he’s a good one to have out there.”


How do things change in terms of the ramp up now that you have these two days of kind of evidence and things to build off of? 

“Yeah, I think for an older guy like me, it’s just continuing to work my conditioning, make sure I get through as many reps as I need in practice, focus on things. I know we have more of a simulated game next week against Kansas City, so really try and hone in on your routine when it comes to that. But besides that, keep working. We’re still a ways away, so there’s a lot of time to improve and get as a team.”


Expect to play against Kansas City?

“I’m not sure yet. He’s not told us.”


When you have the two days of this and then you don’t have another practice again until Sunday. How do you digest these two practices? I guess in terms of the watching film, what do you take away from them all that sort of stuff?

“Yeah, the group we didn’t have meetings last night because it was too late. A lot of the group came in and watched it last night. We watched this morning. We’ll watch it again tonight and tomorrow morning and digest that. It’s a lot of good work. And then if you’re not playing in the game, you find a way to get some work in, some flexibility stuff. Take care of your body. Get ready for next week and cheer on the guys that are going to be out there competing.”


Is red zone at all a concern to the number one offense. I mean, it’s not just out here, but during camp. It’s been rough too. 

“Yeah, we’re working through it. I think our defense sees the concept that we’re running in practice, so they saw throughout OTAs, they saw throughout minicamp. We have some good players on defense, so they find some things today. We didn’t convert as much as we wanted, but I think it’s stuff we’re working through. I think you want to see your defense compete early in camp because they usually have a step up on the offense. But I think we’re working our way through and I am not concerned at this moment about it.”


I know it’s a long process and you still got 90 guys here, but looking back to last year and then this year too, do you walk away from joint practices like this with a good idea of  ‘Okay, this is who we are, this is the team we have?’

“You know, some guys step up, but it’s such a long preseason that you don’t know what’s going to happen injury wise or trade wise or cut downs. There’s so much that goes into it. It feels like a team right now. When you have 90 guys, it’s always hard to be cut down. You never know who you’re going to lose in the cut down.”


I mean like, just the personality of the team?

“Oh yeah. You start to get an understanding for sure. We have a lot of competitive guys. Our defensive line, I think you saw flashes, what they can be yesterday and today. So, you definitely start to see personality and stuff coming out. It’s still not full speed (Nick) Chubb’s, not getting tackled and things are like that, but you get a better understanding for sure.”


Seems like Elijah (Moore) obviously hasn’t been here long, but it just seems like you guys lose a lot when he’s not out there in team drills, I guess. Do you feel that difference when you’re missing him in particular? 

“Yeah, I think he’s going to be one of our – I want to say queen on the chessboard. They can move everywhere. You know what I mean? I don’t play chess, but I was trying to use a quote, but no. And I think they want to get him the ball. They realize he’s an explosive player. He’s played some running back in his past. And I think they want to use our weapons. Whatever our strengths are, they want to use it. And he’s a good compliment. To Amari (Cooper), to David (Njoku), to DPJ (Donovan Peoples-Jones), to Nick (Chubb). So, it’s going to be good. I know he hasn’t been out there. It would have been nice to see him out there the last couple of days. But we’re getting him healthy for week one.”


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