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The Eagles want to see Jalen Hurts ‘take the reins’ as the top quarterback, and downplay Deshaun Watson rumors

Hurts said he’s comfortable with the challenge to earn the starting role, dismissing any benefit of being named the starter early in training camp.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (center) smiles to fans on the first day of training camp.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (center) smiles to fans on the first day of training camp.Read moreMONICA HERNDON / Staff Photographer

A few minutes after the horn sounded Wednesday on the Eagles’ first day of training camp, Jalen Hurts rounded up a handful of wide receivers for a post-practice chat.

The group consisted of DeVonta Smith, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside, each of whom earlier had taken significant snaps with the first-team offense that was led by Hurts. The second-year quarterback said he tries to set up conversations like this with each position group frequently to go over the reps they had during practice.

“I like to talk to the different position groups,” Hurts said. “We really just talk about what we saw that day in practice. Talk about the different things we can build on. Talk about the good. Talk about the bad, and just build.”

Hurts entered training camp as the presumptive starter for the Eagles, although coach Nick Sirianni and general manager Howie Roseman have yet to crown him the starter in the name of the constant competition Sirianni has called one of his “core values.” Several players have noted Hurts’ ascension into a leadership role despite his lack of experience in the league, and both Sirianni and Roseman said during a Wednesday news conference that they’re hoping to see Hurts ingratiate himself as QB1.

“He’s done everything possible off the field and during the spring practices to take the reins, and we want to see him do that,” Roseman said. “This is a big year for any player that goes from year one to year two. So we’re excited to see that, see his growth, and working with the ones.”

Hurts said he’s comfortable with the challenge laid out by Sirianni and Roseman to earn the starting role, downplaying any benefit from being named the starter early in camp.

“The rent is due every day,” Hurts said. “I truly mean that, and I have that mentality. For a guy like me, I hold myself accountable to go out there and play at a high level every time I touch the field. There’s not going to be anybody that holds Jalen to a higher standard than Jalen.”

Even though Hurts seems like the favorite for the job, things could change quickly. The Eagles have been identified as a potential trade destination for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson is the subject of an open criminal investigation and has 22 active civil lawsuits of sexual assault or inappropriate sexual misconduct filed against him. Depending on the outcome of the lawsuits, Watson could be facing a lengthy suspension in violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

The Eagles are monitoring the Watson situation and have interest should a trade make sense, a source familiar with the team’s thinking told The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane.

The Texans are reportedly seeking a hefty price for Watson, even though there’s uncertainty about his future in the league and plenty of controversy surrounding the allegations.

According to ESPN, the Eagles would have to include “at least three first-rounders.” The Eagles have two first-round picks, Miami’s and their own, in next year’s draft with the possibility to add a third if Carson Wentz stays healthy this year in Indianapolis, turning a conditional second-round pick into a first-rounder.

» READ MORE: Eagles practice observations: DeVonta Smith vs. Darius Slay, depth chart notes, and injury updates

During his post-practice news conference, Roseman argued that the Eagles are always involved in big-name trade talks, especially considering the number of draft picks they’ve accrued in the last few months.

“One of the things that I always found kind of funny is whenever there’s a name being dangled about, the Eagles are kind of associated with that,” Roseman said. “I understand, because we have more high draft picks going forward, that’s probably going to be continual as players become available. But we drafted these guys for a reason. We’re really excited for the development of them.”

» READ MORE: The Eagles could have a potent 1-2 punch at running back with Miles Sanders and explosive rookie Kenny Gainwell

When asked if he’d done any “homework” on additions at quarterback, Roseman said the front office is always looking for ways to improve the team. It’s worth noting that Roseman, by league rules, isn’t allowed to address players on a different team specifically.

“Our job is to always evaluate every option at every position,” Roseman said. “We’re always constantly doing that and looking at what’s going on in the league, and we do that before the draft. Next year’s draft class at every position, trying to find out the strengths and weaknesses, so that’s what we’re doing during this time period. We’re watching tape on guys. We’re looking at guys, and we’re making sure we’re ready, one in case of injury, or, and also, for any position that trades become available.”

» READ MORE: Howie Roseman reveals the Eagles entered training camp with a 90% vaccination rate as NFL teams adjust to COVID policy

Hurts said he hadn’t heard the “chatter” surrounding the trade speculation even though it would have a significant impact on his future with the Eagles. He said he instead focuses on what he can control.

“What chatter? There’s a lot of chatter that goes on,” Hurts said. “I’m above it all. I control what I can. I’m here. That’s what I’m doing, going out there and being the quarterback for this team.”