Before the fourth practice of training camp on Saturday, Nick Sirianni said he saw plenty of big-time throws from Jalen Hurts to start the summer.
Over the next few hours, Hurts gave Sirianni even more to talk about next time he takes the podium.
In an evening practice at the NovaCare Complex, Hurts finished the last workout before an off day with a strong showing. The second-year quarterback had a handful of tight-window throws, including a deep touchdown pass to Zach Ertz during a team period. A few minutes earlier, the 22-year-old threaded a pass to Travis Fulgham near the sideline with safety Anthony Harris in coverage.
“I saw some really good, great throws,” Sirianni said before practice. “... Just seeing the playmaking ability, that was great to see in the red zone period the other day. We just want to continue to cut out any mistakes that he’s making, continue to make those plays that he’s making and continue to see how special he is with the ball.”
Sirianni, along with general manager Howie Roseman, said they wanted to see Hurts “take the reins” as the first-team quarterback this training camp, although he hasn’t been crowned the starter yet. He’s taken all of the snaps with the starters with Joe Flacco running with the twos and Nick Mullens leading the third team.
It’s early, but Sirianni has already identified a few areas in which Hurts needs to improve, primarily with his ball security and footwork.
“We’re always talking about his feet,” Sirianni said. “Everything we do is going to be to get his feet in sync with the play. To get his feet on the target line, set to where he’s throwing the football. ... Everything we do fundamentally is going to be with his feet and also ball security. Keeping two hands [on the ball] in the pocket when he is about to move. That is something that we have to continue to work on, because when he moves, he has a tendency to keep one hand on the ball.”
Sirianni has taken a gradual approach to his first training camp in charge. Sunday was the longest practice of camp, stretching roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes.
The previous sessions were closer to the 75-minute mark and each one has been in shorts and shells with the first padded practice apparently scheduled for Tuesday. Sirianni also gave a handful of veterans Friday off to keep them fresh.
“We just are always thinking about how we keep these guys healthy,” Sirianni said. “So, the one thing that we do, these guys that are older in the league, and have some years under their belt, we took care of them the other day.”
Even though Hurts has put together a handful of solid throws, Sirianni said the defense was the winner of the first three days. It’s not atypical for defenses to have an early advantage during training camp, and the Eagles’ offensive units struggled the first two days with plenty of incompletions, turnovers, and stymied runs.
Those offensive struggles led to Sirianni stopping practice Friday because he was unhappy with the effort level toward the end of the session. He said he challenged the team to finish strong and was happy with the effort the rest of the way.
“I just wanted practice to finish the way we wanted it to finish,” Sirianni said. “There’s so many games in the NFL that come down to the last drive, right? So I just wanted it to finish strong. I felt like the defense was having a good day and the offense was having a below-average day. I wanted them to know, ‘Hey, whether you’re having a good day, or a bad day, when we get into the fourth quarter, and it’s tight, you always gotta play the next play.’”
Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith suffered an apparent leg injury during Saturday’s practice and watched the second half of the session from the sidelines. The No. 10 overall pick in the NFL draft, Smith has been working exclusively with the first team and was having a solid training camp. The team doesn’t believe the injury to be a major concern, evident by the fact that Smith stayed on the field for the remainder of practice.