Eagles training camp kicked off on Wednesday morning and for the first time in nearly two months we got to hear from Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni about how they’re attacking the weeks leading up to the 2021 season, how they feel about Jalen Hurts and his development, as well as where the team stands with it’s vaccination efforts.
Roseman talked a bit about having Zach Ertz back out on the field and what he means to the roster, and Sirianni explained some of his reasoning behind having all players report to camp on the same day.
Here’s what they had to say:
On Jalen Hurts and the QB position
Sirianni was asked about the quarterback position and their plans for Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco.
“Right now Jalen [Hurts] is in with the 1s, and he’s working with the 1s. He’s earned that because he’s worked his butt off, and we’re hoping that he takes the reins and rolls with it, and continues to just get good reps with the 1s.”
When asked about what they specifically want to see Hurts improve on, Sirianni pointed to acceleration of the offense. Wednesday’s practice was the first time they’ve had 11-on-11 team period, so this is the first time he’s run these plays, and he just needs to continue to take the reps — whether that’s in the film room or on the field.
“I am so confident in Jalen. He’s a gym rat, he’s just thinking about football all the time. That’s what I love about him. And, so, he’s going to use those mental reps that’s for sure, we just have to get him more reps out here on the field.”
The head coach also noted that he doesn’t see any specific issues with Hurts’ throwing mechanics, and he might touch on a quarterbacks’ finish, but doesn’t usually mess with their throwing motion up top — if anything they focus more on what the quarterback is doing with his feet.
Howie Roseman was then asked about this being a prove-it year for Hurts and what kind of benchmarks he wants to see from the young QB. Roseman mentioned that part of their issues last year stemmed from the offensive line, so they want to make sure that the OL is playing at a high level, which will in turn help the quarterback room. He also pointed to a very young group of skill players at receiver, running back, and tight end (aside from Zach Ertz). So, it’s important to make sure that they can fairly evaluate the quarterbacks based on the situation around them.
“We talk a lot of times about the jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and this guy has done everything possible to put himself into a successful position, with his work ethic, with his study habits, with his leadership, and so I think for us, like Coach said, we’re looking for him to grab the reigns and go, and follow him as it goes.”
On QB evaluation outside the organization
Roseman admitted that part of their job is to always be looking at other players at all positions, and that includes quarterbacks. So, they do have a “short list” of QBs and other players in case of injury or in case a trade situation presents itself. Roseman was clear though that he wouldn’t talk about any player who is currently with another team, but later admitted that the Eagles are always connected to potential trades because of their draft capital.
On vaccination efforts
Howie Roseman confirmed that over 90 percent of the players have started the vaccination process and they are doing their best to educate the team while also understanding it’s a personal decision. He also confirmed that 100 percent of the staff is vaccinated per league rules.
When asked how important those vaccination efforts were with unvaccinated players being limited once they get inside the building, Sirianni simply said that they focused on educating the guys, letting them make that decision, and then everything else has just been focusing on football and things that will help them win games.
On training camp setup
Sirianni was asked about the decision to have both rookies and veterans all report on the same day, and he explained that his experience with rookies reporting a couple days earlier, the first year players were actually a little more tired by the time the rest of the team reported. So, they didn’t want anybody to come in with a disadvantage, but quarterbacks and rookies did have meetings a few days prior.
Later on, Roseman was asked about some of the young players getting reps with the 1s, and he noted that it’s important to see as many reps as possible to assemble the best roster, but also that the coaches made it clear to him that they are working out a lot of situations and options and not to pay too much attention to where guys are getting the reps.
Sirianni also talked about why they started with red zone work on Wednesday, and he said it was simply a way to ease the guys back onto the field rather than going full stretches down field out of the gate. They want to be smart about how they attack things to keep guys as healthy as possible through training camp.
On Zach Ertz reporting for camp
Roseman was asked about Ertz being out there on Day 1:
“We have a tremendous opinion about Zach as a player, as a person. All he wants to do is play football, and he knows what kind of player he is, and I think when we look at last year, it was embarrassing for this organization, and this team, and a lot of us have a chip on our shoulder. And, when you talk about Zach, it doesn’t take a lot to get him here. He cares so much about this team and this city, and just really good to see him out there.”
The GM went on to say that it’s “huge” to have a Pro Bowl player like Ertz on the roster, especially when you look around and see the young guys they have at the skill positions.
Sirianni also talked about how they are excited to get Ertz on the field and see what he can do in person, noting that he’s watched a ton of tape on the tight end, but is eager to work with him and see how they can best utilize his abilities. The head coach denied that Ertz being on the field forces them to use more 12-personnel, but rather allows them to be more multiple in their options as an offense.
- Roseman said that Steven Nelson was on their radar as soon as he was released from the Steelers, and he’s someone that they have a lot of respect for as a player and a person. Nelson is incredibly competitive, instinctive, and tough, and he embraces the chance to play opposite Darius Slay and prove the type of player he is.
- Sirianni said it was nice to have the fans back out at training camp, and it made it feel like training camp — especially after last year. He noted though it’s important as a team to not be affected by who is in the stands, or not, but it was cool to have fans out there.
- The head coach doesn’t have a particular win-total in mind, and is just attacking every day and every part of the day in an effort to continuously improve. He said from there, the win totals will take care of themselves.
- As far as injury updates, Sirianni wouldn’t give timetables for whether Rodney McLeod and Landon Dickerson would be ready for Week 1, and said that it’s all something they are taking day-by-day.