Good morning, Eagles fans. If you’re reading this Friday morning, I’ve got some exciting news for you: The Eagles are holding a live-contact practice starting at 10:30 a.m., which should provide plenty of information on the team’s roster ahead of the season opener next month.
Thursday’s practice was another relatively quick session, spanning a little more than 90 minutes. Jonathan Hightower had a couple of really nice catches, including a deep touchdown catch past Darius Slay and Jalen Mills. It was easily his best day of camp, considering he had a handful of mistakes in each of the first few practices. (Jeff McLane’s practice observations will be linked below)
Players will have the live period today and then take Saturday off before returning on Sunday. The Eagles have clearly put an emphasis on resting veteran players and sidelining anyone with even a hint of a nagging injury. A handful of guys have voiced their approval of the way Doug Pederson and the rest of the Eagles staff have handled the steady progression into the regular season during this coronavirus-altered offseason.
“I think the good thing about the ramp-up period for us is to come on here and ease back into it and get acclimated,” Malik Jackson said Thursday. “I think Coach Pederson has done a good job of allowing us to slowly get back into there. … I think everybody’s been smart.”
— EJ Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The inevitable fever pitch of the Jalen Hurts hype train got some cold water doused on it by Pederson Thursday morning.
Yes, the Eagles’ second-round pick has flashed his potential in the early days of training camp. He may be getting a share of the reps with the second-team offense, and he may have gotten rave reviews from coaches and teammates. Still, the chatter of Hurts possibly making a run at the backup quarterback spot unofficially held by Nate Sudfeld is premature, Pederson said.
“Nate is our No. 2,” Pederson said. Obviously, Jalen is still learning. Jalen, he’s doing some really good things for us. Again, like I mentioned, he’s learning our system, and he’s another one, one of our young players that’s learning the game a little bit. He’s got some athleticism. We’ve seen that in practice. But Nate has done as nice job for us, and Nate has come in and really done everything we’ve asked him to do from a backup position. … Every position is being evaluated, obviously, but to answer your question, Nate is right now our No. 2.”
Sudfeld has years of experience running the Eagles offense in his favor, especially considering Hurts entered an abbreviated training camp without having OTAs and rookie minicamp under his belt.
According to an NFL Network report, the Eagles have been “blown away” with Hurts so far because of the way he’s handled the offseason. On the field, he’s had ups and downs, with a few pretty deep passes mixed in with some questionable interceptions.
“I think the way he’s picked up our offense and handled the situations that we’ve put him in in practice, he’s done a nice job there,” Pederson said. “He’s still got some learning to do, obviously, but nothing is too big for Jalen. He’s obviously played in some big-time games in college. He’s been in a number of offenses in his career, whether it’s been at Oklahoma, Alabama, places that he’s been. And he’s done a nice job just understanding, and now it’s a matter of just detailing that work and applying it to what he sees defensively when he gets an opportunity.”
Hurts has taken off and run, especially during red-zone drills, more than Carson Wentz and Sudfeld so far during training camp. Pederson said his athleticism and running ability have stood out so far.
“Obviously, the skill set is there,” he said. “You can see him with his legs, obviously the ability to escape the pocket, things he did in college, and throws a good ball and all those things. Those are things we’ve just got to continue to keep working with him on as he grows as a quarterback in our offense.
Can either of Hightower/Watkins make a major impact in their rookie seasons? Sounds like they’re both doing pretty good. — from JackFritzadelphia (@jackfritzfans) on Twitter.
Good question. I don’t know your name, but I am also a fan of Fritz. I’m not sure I’d say either are on pace to make a major impact, but I could see them challenging for playing time. It’ll be interesting to see if both guys make the 53-man roster. Marquise Goodwin opting out helped them, but the Eagles theoretically have four locks for the final roster in Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson, Greg Ward, and JJ Arcega-Whiteside. That leaves one or two spots up for grabs. Those two spots could go to the rookies, but Deontay Burnett has made a handful of plays so far in camp and would have a good case. All this assumes Alshon Jeffery stays on the PUP list.