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Eagles OTA practice notes ft. Jalen Hurts, Nolan Smith, D’Andre Swift, and others

Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Workout Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles held the first of two OTA practices open to media members on Thursday afternoon and I watched the action unfold at the NovaCare Complex. Let’s get to some observations!

  • DISCLAIMER: Before we get started, please remember that the Eagles don’t permit videos/photography after warmups and position drills. So, that’s why you’re not seeing any team drill highlights.
  • ATTENDANCE UPDATES: A number of notable players were missing from practice. It bears repeating that OTAs are voluntary, so it’s not the biggest deal that they weren’t there. Included in that group: Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, DeVonta Smith, Lane Johnson. The Eagles previously released footage that indicated at least Cox and Smith have been around for some spring workouts that weren’t media-attended.
  • INJURY UPDATES: Avonte Maddox, Marlon Tuipulotu, and Tyrie Cleveland attended practice but weren’t practicing. Maddox, who had foot surgery after the season ended, was seen watching practice from the sideline. Tuipulotu was doing rehab work on a side field. Cleveland did some light stretching with the team but did not participate in the more active portion of warmups. Quez Watkins got a little banged up late in practice (lower body issue) but it didn’t seem overly serious.
  • DEPTH CHART NOTES: Nakobe Dean and Nicholas Morrow were the first team linebackers. After practice, Morrow noted that Dean is wearing the green dot and therefore calling the defense. Terrell Edmunds and Reed Blankenship were the first team safeties. Cam Jurgens was the first team right guard. Quez Watkins was first up at WR3. The Eagles rotated their running backs but returning players Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott were the first up over Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift. Way too early to read too deeply into backfield usage.
  • JALEN HURTS UPDATE: The Eagles don’t do 11-on-11s in OTAs so keep in mind that their passing drills were 7-on-7. Hurts’ first pass of the day was an impressive completion in a tight window over the middle to Quez Watkins. The ball made it over Nakobe Dean underneath and just out of the reach of a trailing Darius Slay. Hurts’ second pass was a completion to Olamide Zaccheaus on a short curl. Hurts looked sharp on short and intermediate throws but he didn’t have as much success going deep. An underthrown pass down the right sideline to Dallas Goedert was deftly knocked down by the tight end to prevent Slay from getting an interception. Hurts had a back shoulder throw down the right sideline broken up by Slay, who didn’t see the ball but was able to get his hand in to disrupt the catch point. Hurts couldn’t connect with Watkins on a deep shot down the left sideline; it looked like the ball was overthrown and out of bounds. Stock majorly down. Calm down, only kidding. Hurts has clearly earned some benefit of the doubt. Not worried about him.
  • Multiple media members remarked that Nolan Smith is bigger than they expected him to be. Smith’s activity in team drills was limited because he wasn’t going up against offensive linemen and obviously wasn’t allowed to truly rush the quarterback. But it seemed like he was out there for almost every defensive snap and he brought energy to the table. On one rep, he ran down the field to be one of the players stripping at the ball that Goedert had caught. The two had some words after that. Nothing that seemed heated, to be clear. But it’s not every rookie who goes up to an established player like that. Kinda speaks to Smith being that ‘bring it on every single rep’ player who might be best described as a dog.
  • A little surreal to finally see Marcus Mariota practicing in an Eagles jersey. One of his two most memorable reps was when he held on the ball for a long time, rolled left, and then threw into traffic to connect with UDFA wide receiver Joseph Ngata.
  • The other memorable Mariota moment was when he threw a pass over the middle that didn’t get high enough to not be intercepted nicely by Christian Elliss. Nice play. I’ve mentioned on a couple BGN Radio podcasts that I believe Elliss might have the largest delta on the roster. He could conceivably not even make the roster ... or he could potentially steal a starting off-ball linebacker spot. The most likely outcome, of course, is that he falls between those two options. But I feel like Elliss has more of a chance to play meaningful snaps than most would think. He showed some juice in an incredibly small sample size last year. At the very least, he should be a good special teams contributor. Interesting under-the-radar candidate to monitor.
  • Dan Arnold made a tough leaping catch in traffic that drew praise and high fives from his fellow tight ends watching from the sideline. Will be interesting to see which players win the backup tight end jobs behind Goedert.
  • The aforementioned Joseph Ngata, an undrafted rookie free agent signing, had a few nice catches. I’ve previously referred to him as a very poor man’s A.J. Brown. He’s big and runs hard after the catch. Ngata received the largest guarantee from this year’s Eagles UDFA class. That said, Ngata did draw criticism from Nick Sirianni and Brian Johnson for seemingly not running the right route on one rep.
  • Ian Book was QB3 ahead of Tanner McKee.
  • Hard to get a great gauge on new schematic stuff in a limited 7-on-7 practice. So, nothing much to say about Sean Desai or Brian Johnson.
  • Here’s your first look at the Eagles’ first player to wear No. 0:

UP NEXT: The Eagles’ remaining OTA schedule: June 1, June 5-6, June 8. Media will be allowed to attend one of next week’s sessions. That will be our final look at the Birds until training camp begins in late July.

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