As the Eagles open their 2020 training camp this week, Jalen Hurts hasn’t gotten a lot of advice from Carson Wentz, Hurts said.
They’ve texted and talked by phone, Hurts acknowledged Tuesday in a Zoom call with reporters. But in a normal NFL year, the Eagles’ franchise quarterback and the rookie second-round draft surprise who plays the same position would have spent weeks together during the spring, on the field and in meetings.
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That hasn’t happened, because of the coronavirus.
“It’s been a weird deal,” Hurts said. “This whole offseason’s been unprecedented, not being in the building, not experiencing things that I would have experienced in a traditional offseason. … There hasn’t really been much of that communication.”
Pressed on that comment, Hurts said: “We’ve communicated. Feeling each other out and building that relationship. … I’m excited when that time comes [to be on the field together].”
Broncos general manager John Elway said this week that he is revising expectations for rookies, given the way the offseason has gone. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday that he isn’t ruling out rookie contributions, but Pederson conceded that a lot of important work lies ahead.
“No, I wouldn’t go that far, because, as you know, every year, there’s going to be a rookie or two that really steps up and performs and catches our eye,” Pederson said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s a guy on offense or defense. He can be a starter on special teams.
“As coaches, we have to get our young players caught up extremely fast. … We had a really good offseason, as virtual as it was, with the meetings. We spent some time virtually with our rookies this past week, and these guys are in a really good place mentally. Now it’s about taking it to the grass, seeing what they know, and then leaning on these guys as much as we can throughout training camp.”
If Wentz is healthy, Hurts might not play much as a rookie. The same probably can’t be said for the team’s first-round pick, wide receiver Jalen Reagor. He was the most prominent wide receiving addition for a team that ignored free agency in trying to help its anemic wideout corps. The top veteran wideout added through trade, Marquise Goodwin, announced Tuesday that he was opting out of the 2020 season because he didn’t want to risk the health of his newborn daughter.
Reagor, also available on a Tuesday Zoom call with reporters, said he feels there are “no excuses” and that he will have to do “more work in the meeting room” to be ready to help the Eagles this season.
“I don’t look at it as something that’s difficult, I look at it as a challenge, something that is going to challenge me and my teammates, this coaching staff, and the team as a whole, the organization as a whole,” he said. “And I feel like, just being a part of the organization, they’re taking it on, full head of steam, no excuses, just put more work in the meeting room, after practice, before practice …”
Asked about the loss of Goodwin, and whether this would give him more reps in camp, Reagor said: “That’s out of my hands. I don’t know. I just look at it like, things happen, people get hurt, like, Marquise opted out. … I wish him and his family the best.”
Reagor said he has been learning the X and Z positions. He got to work out with Wentz in Texas before reporting.
“It was great to finally meet Carson in person” he said. “We were going over the routes, going over the playbook, the signals. Just trying to jell, get closer, in a short amount of time.”
Hurts was asked if he expects to have a role in the offense, even if he is not the starting quarterback. There has been talk of a special package of plays that might take advantage of his athleticism — but like so much else, that sort of thing usually starts in the spring and is refined through training camp and the preseason.
“I don’t really worry about those things,” Hurts said. “I don’t want to get into the semantics of things. I just want to improve.”
Hurts said the Eagles’ offense “compares well to some of the things I’ve done at Alabama and Oklahoma.”
Reagor said he felt he was adaptable, and understood what he learned of the offensive virtually throughout the spring.
“Now that we’re here … the coach can explain in depth. It’s better always just being in person,” he said.
Reagor said being able to work on the field and study the playbook, instead of studying remotely, is helping him a lot.