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Eagles OTA Practice Notes: Jalen Hurts to DeVonta Smith, Nick Sirianni update, and more

Highlights from today’s session.

The Eagles kicked off their 2021 modified OTA practice schedule today and I was there to observe the relatively brief portion of practice open to the media. Here’s what I gleaned!

  • No better place to start than with Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith. The young guys didn’t have trouble connecting ... as should be the case with no defense present. Still, fun to see another early glimpse of these two working together:

You can probably see why Hurts once referred to Smith as a Smooth Criminal. Smith is indeed a smooth operator. Very fluid movement.

You also love to see how Smith catches everything with his hands, as opposed to being a body-catcher. Smith spent time working on his hands with this contraption that I don’t recall previously seeing at the NovaCare Complex:

  • Speaking of new contraptions, here’s a drill where Eagles quarterbacks must throw the ball through a ring. Hurts was accurate on his attempts:

Joe Flacco, not as much. (Not that this means everything or anything.)

Jamie Newman also missed the mark on the ring but he hit his target in this drill:

Unfortunately for me, I choked hard in this moment. I missed a huge opportunity to throw out paper with a flat hand and beat Sirianni in RPS. Terrible job by me.

Fortunately, I had a chance at redemption today. I didn’t get it on video but thankfully (read: regretfully?) John Clark did:

Do I feel bad for confusing and/or terrifying Sirianni? Maybe. But I did get the win. And now I’m legally the Eagles’ new head coach. (I am not.)

  • And now for a Sirianni note you might actually care about: I noticed multiple occasions where he took players aside to coach them up. He went up to Adrian Killins (who was grouped with the wide receivers during position drills) after he failed to keep both feet in following a sideline catch. Sirianni had him practice walking forward and dragging his toes. I also noticed Sirianni coaching up tight end Jason Croom later on. From the two limited portions of practice we’ve watched, Sirianni sure seems to spend a decent amount of time with the team’s pass-catchers. Not exactly a shock given his background as a receiver and coaching that position.
  • DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins all spent some time with the quarterbacks and running backs as the Eagles practiced handoffs. Jet sweeps and reverses for the receivers before they eventually rejoined their normal position group. It would be nice to see the Eagles’ offense make effective use of wide receiver running plays after struggling to do in recent seasons.
  • Kenny Gainwell spent time working on his hands before practice.

The rookie running back looks like a natural pass-catcher (especially while wearing a traditional WR jersey number in No. 14):

  • Brandon Brooks warmed up with the team and participated in some drills. Seems like a good sign as he comes off multiple major injuries.
  • Jordan Mailata, not Andre Dillard, appeared to be the first team left tackle in various offensive line drills.
  • Notable players NOT in attendance (hat tip to Jimmy Kempski): Zach Ertz, Darius Slay, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox.
  • Jersey number updates: Ryan Kerrigan is No. 90, Marlon Tuipulotu had to change to No. 72, Le’Raven Clark is No. 61, Casey Tucker is No. 76, Nate Meadors is No. 32, Josiah Scott is No. 46.
  • The Eagles’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (official title on the Eagles’ website) attended today’s practice:

UP NEXT: The Eagles will have a couple more practices this week but they won’t be open to the media. We’ll get access one day during next week’s practices and that’ll be it until training camp begins in late July.