The Philadelphia Eagles held the first of two OTA practices open to reporters on Friday afternoon and I was at the NovaCare Complex to take it all in. Here’s what I observed! UPDATE: For additional context, check out our BGN Radio practice recap podcast.
- DISCLAIMER: Before we get started, please remember that the Eagles don’t allow videos/photography after warmups and position drills. So, that’s why you’re not seeing any.
- JALEN HURTS UPDATE: It’s hard to make too much out of one relatively short (just under an hour?) June OTA practice where the team didn’t even do any 11-on-11 work. The lack of even just simulated pressure gives the offense an obvious advantage over the defense. That said, Hurts made some nice throws that were encouraging to see.
Hurts opened 7-on-7 by lofting a ball down the right sideline to drop it in the bucket for DeVonta Smith. There appeared to be a soft spot in coverage with new Eagles cornerback James Bradberry trailing on the play.
Hurts had another deep completion to Deon Cain, who you probably didn’t even realize was on the roster. Hurts hit his target deep in the middle of the field with Darius Slay trailing in coverage.
Hurts found DeVonta Smith deep down the left sideline after the wide receiver roasted Slay to get open. The ball was a bit wobbly coming in but it didn’t really matter.
Now, it wasn’t a perfect day for Hurts. He did nearly get picked by Slay on a play where Brown had to play defensive back and broke it up. It seemed like the timing may have been off there. Hurts also overthrew an open Brown down the right sideline.
The most encouraging throw from Hurts may not have been one of his deep attempts. He’s previously had some success in that area. By contrast, Hurts has not thrived when it comes to throwing over the middle of the field, especially in the short and intermediate areas. Hurts may have demonstrated some progress in this regard by threading a tight coverage window to hit a crossing Jack Stoll in stride over the middle. Good stuff.
There’s been discussion about Hurts working on his throwing mechanics with Tom House and other trainers. I don’t know how much stock I really put into that; his motion didn’t seem drastically difference to my eye. If anything, Hurts looked more decisive and comfortable in the offense. That’s something he talked about being important for him since he’s been in a number of different systems over the past several years.
The Eagles will hope to see Hurts continue to stack good OTA performances before doing more of the same in training camp.
After practice, Hurts opened up his press conference by calling for better gun control.
Jalen Hurts: “We need weapons off the street. Something’s gotta change.”— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) June 3, 2022
Eagles players (including Hurts) were wearing special practice jerseys with orange numbers in a signal against gun violence.
Today, the team wore orange-themed practice shirts in honor of #GunViolenceAwarenessDay.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) June 3, 2022
The shirts will be auctioned off to benefit two Philadelphia-based organizations, Frontline Dads and @phillymic → https://t.co/wT0A6vcJic#WearOrange | #EndGunViolence
To help create a safer city, @PhillyPolice is holding a gun buyback event at @LFFStadium on June 6 from 2-6 PM.— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) June 3, 2022
Each person who turns in an unloaded firearm to police on site receives a $100 gift card funded by the Eagles & the Center for Violence Prevention at @ChildrensPhila. pic.twitter.com/72MYE9pz18
Eagles players and the organization have been walking the walk on addressing root causes of gun violence for a while.— Ben Natan (@thebennatan) June 3, 2022
They aren’t just speaking about it because it’s in the news. https://t.co/Jtj6wtgB9Z
- Behold! A.J. Brown in action in Eagles gear.
Eagles WR A.J. Brown pic.twitter.com/UCoI6tKvTp— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) June 3, 2022
- ATTENDANCE UPDATES: A number of notable players were missing from practice. It bears repeating that OTAs are voluntary, so it’s not like it’s the biggest deal. Fletcher Cox was among those absent. No Jalen Reagor, who is mourning the death of friend Jeff Gladney, or Quez Watkins or Zach Pascal. With Brett Toth having his wedding today, the starting offensive line was mostly absent ... except for Isaac Seumalo.
- INJURY UPDATES: Tyree Jackson watched practice with a significant brace and sleeve on his right leg. Jackson tore his ACL in January and could be in line to begin the season on the PUP list. John Hightower did not participate in practice; he was instead doing some rehab work on a side field. Andre Chachere seemingly tweaked his ankle at one point but didn’t leave practice.
- DEPTH CHART NOTES: Kyzir White and T.J. Edwards were the starting two linebackers. Not exactly a surprise that Nakobe Dean wasn’t instantly inserted there because that’s just not how it typically goes for rookies. The vets usually get the advantage early on in the offseason. Still time for that much to change in training camp ... Andre Chachere, who the Eagles have previously utilized as a backup nickel corner, was a second string safety alongside K’Von Wallace ... Reid Sinnett was the third quarterback up behind Hurts and Gardner Minshew. UDFA rookie Carson Strong saw very limited practice reps.
- No surprise here but DeVonta Smith looked pretty good in 7-on-7. Hurts and him were clearly on the same page.
- Brown and Hurts have a relationship but they might need some more time developing on-field chemistry. Plenty of offseason reps left to accomplish as much.
- At the risk of putting him in Na Brown territory, the aforementioned Deon Cain might be an under-the-radar name to watch this offseason. He took advantage of the Reagor/Watkins/Pascal absences by being reliable when Hurts went his way. It seemed like Hurts trusts him in the slot.
- J.J. Arcega-Whiteside did indeed work with the tight ends during position drills. He doesn’t look significantly bigger to me. More bulked up than usual, sure, but significantly smaller than the other tight ends. I’m still not buying JJAW to TE saving his career.
- Zech McPhearson nearly picked off Gardner Minshew on a late checkdown to the flat. McPhearson made a lot of plays in practice last year.
- 41 on 41 crime: Jared Mayden stripped Britain Covey after a short catch in the flat. Mayden also collided with Covey in an attempt to break up a pass on the final play of practice. Early signs indicate Covey’s size (5-8, 173 pounds) might be a limitation. On Mayden’s side, smart by him to want to take out the player he currently shares a jersey number with.
UP NEXT: The Eagles are off for the weekend before returning for three final OTA practices next week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Media will be allowed to attend one of those sessions. That’ll be our final look at the team until training camp begins in late July.