Eagles Training Camp 2021: Highlights from Week 1

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The Philadelphia Eagles began week one of training camp with a new quarterback at the helm, a new coaching staff, and a lot of new faces. With the team announcing a winner on each side of the ball, it’s been the defense who has been making the plays early on. Find out below what Steven Nelson’s first week has been like, Jalen Hurts’ progress in year two and more. 

Practice Highlights

• The players took the field this week with extra excitement. First-round pick DeVonta Smith, Miles Sanders, Darius Slay, and so many others showed off their talents this week.

Press Pass: Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni 

(Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

Jeff McLane: “Did it take anything extra to get TE Zach Ertz here on time? What do you envision is going to play out over the next six weeks in terms of him being on the roster by the start of the season?”

Howie Roseman: “Kind of go back to what I said at the start of this offseason. We have a tremendous opinion about Zach as a player and as a person. All he wants to do is play football and he knows what kind of player he is. I think, when we look at last year, it was embarrassing for this organization and this team. A lot of us have a chip on our shoulder. 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. Just really good to see him out there.”

John Clark: “What areas do you want to see growth from Jalen? Are you working with his mechanics at all?”

Nick Sirianni: “The growth where we want to see is just acceleration in the offense, right? It’s just getting better and more reps at the offense. This is the first time we’ve had an 11-on-11 team period, right? These are some of the first times he’s run these plays.

“Now, maybe he’s run a version of these plays, but there’s some plays he’s never run before. We can’t get enough of that, whether that’s in the film room, whether that’s on the field. He’s just got to continue to take these reps. 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. He’s going to use those mental reps, that’s for sure. We just got to get him more reps out here on the field.”

(Getty Images)

John Clark: “Are there things with his mechanics?”

S:“I don’t mess with a QB’s… There’s a couple things I talk about with a quarterback finish, right? It’s just about finish. But the way they throw it… They’re going to keep throwing it that way. It takes a long time before you can switch anything there. I don’t perceive him to have any issues up top.

“What we do with a quarterback is work with their feet, how do their feet correlate with the play, right? This is the drop with the play. The drop will tell you when the ball should be out as you read the defense. As far as fundamentals with his feet, we’re obsessed with it. That’s what we’re doing.

“That again comes into the reps on the field. He’s got to get his feet in sync with each play. That’s what we’re working on being on the field, in the meeting room and individually.”

Chris McPherson: “Can you describe the atmosphere today. It’s the first time in front of the fans today pretty much in over a year. What was it like for the first training camp process?”

S: “That was nice to have the fans back out, especially for training camp. It felt like training camp again, right? Instead of just being there yourself. Now it’s important as a team that you don’t care who is in the stands, right? You don’t care if you’re practicing in a parking lot, if you’re practicing in a playground, on these fields, if there’s a hundred thousand people there, doesn’t matter. It’s the same process.

“It was cool to have them out there. I think everybody kind of got going and felt that out there.”

R: “Not having fans last year was a different experience. When teams come in, and you hear this from all the people we talk to in different teams, people don’t want to come into the stadium, people don’t want to come to Philly because they know it’s going to be a hard day’s work with our fans, and that environment we have over there.

“It’s exciting to think about getting that back, and how much this city and our fans are part of this team. That’s a big thing that we’re looking forward to having back.”

Press Pass: Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon 

(Tim Tai // Philly Inquirer)

Eliot Shorr-Parks: “What have your impressions of CB Steven Nelson been so far?”

Jonathan Gannon: “Good. Really good. It’s good to get a vet in that knows a lot of ball. Just got to see what he’s comfortable with within our scheme and get him to play to his strengths. It was a good addition for us.”

Mike Kaye: “You said the last time we spoke you were going to kind of figure out as you go. How has that process been?”

G: “Good. You guys are going to see a lot of looks out there. Again, that’s going into you guys… we believe that our D-line is a strength. We’re going to try to put them in a position to make a bunch of plays.

“We also feel like, it’s day two, but I would say a lot of those guys have very unique skill sets, and we’re going to try to accentuate those skill sets by how we align people. The players have done a great job of buying in and understanding the ‘why’ behind what we’re doing.

“It’s day two and we got a lot more to put in, but it’s our job to figure out, ‘Hey, this guy does this really well, put him in that spot for the most part.’ As we keep going in camp, hopefully you guys will see a lot of different variation with what we’re doing and we’re using guys in different ways.

“That’s why, talking about our guys, we like guys that can play multiple positions because we feel it’s hard on the offense. So, we don’t want to just line up and they know where we’re going to line up. We’re going to change.”

Jeff McLane: “You said we were going to see a lot of looks throughout camp, we saw some 3-4 yesterday. When it comes to the season, is it possible to have as disparate a front like a 3-4 or if you do work with a 4-3 front? I know that most fronts are going to be multiple in the NFL, but can you be as diverse as that?”

G: “If our players can do it, yes. I would say that if you look at the number one defense in the league last year, the L.A. Rams, they had by far the most different personnel groupings and the highest amount of different fronts.

“Not to say that we’re going to do that, but I do think that versatility in your front and coverage makes it hard on the offense. We’re going to do that.”

Press Pass: Nick Sirianni 

(Yom Kim // Philly Inquirer)

Eliot Shorr-Parks: “Nick, I know it’s only been three practices but what have you seen from QB Jalen Hurts so far?”

Nick Sirianni: “You know, yesterday – yeah, yesterday at the red zone practice, I saw some really good, great throws, like big-time throws. He had one to [TE] Dallas [Goedert] in this corner of the end zone right here, in the right corner of the end zone and he also had one to [TE] Jason Croom that he made a play off a scramble. Just seeing that play-making ability, and that was great to see in that red zone day the other day. So, just want to continue to cut out any mistakes that he’s making and continue to make those plays that he’s making and just see how special he is with the ball in his hands.”

Jeff McLane: “What’s your level of concern with WR Jalen Reagor failing his conditioning test and not really practicing full yet?”

S: “You know, we obviously want all our guys out there every single day. Jalen had to go through some things that I can’t even imagine going through that he had to deal with, so I know that mentally, he has to get himself in a spot. So, I’m not concerned.

“He’s been getting himself back ready to go these last couple days. He’s got some tightness in his body, that’s why we’re holding him back. Again, any time – we just believe that in practice so much, that that’s where you improve as a player. So, any time a player misses, of course we’re not going to want that but no concern because he’s on track to be ready and he’ll get some reps today out at practice.”

Bo Wulf: “You spent this offseason putting the playbook together and now you are seeing it on the field with these players running it, how malleable is it? How much tweaking to you do based on what you see on the field versus what you have on paper?”

S: “Well, what you’re going over now is your staples, your staple plays, and those first couple installs are what you really think you’re going to run a lot of, right. And so it’s not like we just started running these plays. We knew the problems that are proposed to these plays and what we have to do, so it’s not so much anything that we are tweaking. It’s more so like how do we get better at the details of this play. I think there’s a lot of — you could be in a situation and be like, ‘Oh, that looks really good and I’ll run this play from this offense and I’ll run this play from this offense and that play looks good from this offense.’”

“No, we know these are some of the core value plays and core staple plays we want to do, so it’s not so much tweaking those. It’s just we know how to coach those fine details of that play because that — and get those guys really good at those fine details, because at the end of the day, it’s how do you execute those, even when the defense knows what you’re going to run; how are you going to execute those plays and the teams that execute those plays are the ones that know those fine details and play with high fundamentals.”

Practice Notes 

(Tim Hawk | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

• DeVonta Smith looks ready and primed for the 2021 season. He’s already taking first-team reps and is excelling.

The report out of camp is that Jalen Hurts has been progressing each day. He began with a shaky and inconsistent day way and began to build during the next two practices. His progress will go a long way in determining his long-term position within the franchise.

• As Jonathan Gannon mentioned, we will be a multiple defense. In his press conference, Josh Sweat mentioned that he’s also rushed standing up in practice. The signing of Ryan Kerrigan may have hinted at the combination defense the team will be attempting to run, but this week confirmed it.

All eyes during the offseason will be on the blindside battle between Jordan Mailata and former first-round pick Andre Sillard. So far, it appears that Mailata is the clear-cut favorite for the job.

Speaking of Sweat, his improvement has been the talk of Eagles training camp. On day one, he lined up with the first team. It’s early, but Ganon stated that he sees both Sweat and Barnett and starters.

•  Miles Sanders is still good.

When it comes to cornerback, Steven Nelson lined up at the outside CB spot opposite Darius Slay with Avonte Maddox in the slot. The battle for who will be the fourth corner, especially in a passing league, is on. The top contenders or Craig James and Michael Jaquet. Rookie cornerback Zech McPherson can also push for that spot.


(Official Eagles Twitter)

• The Philadelphia Eagles agreed to terms with cornerback Steven Nelson on a one-year contract on Sunday. The contract is worth more than $4 million. You can watch his opening press conference, here.

• The Zach Ertz saga continues. During  Inside Training Camp Live, Mike Garafolo specualted about Ertz’s mindset, “just being here is not a sign that everything is copacetic…He’s still not happy, he didn’t get that contract extension last season and nothing has changed right now.” You can watch the clip below:

• In other transaction news, the Eagles signed former Delaware high school star at wide receiver Andre Patton. The move makes sense with Reagor and Greg Ward just getting back into the swing of things. Patton also played under Sirianni during his time with the Chargers.

• The team is at a 90% vaccination rate according to Howie Roseman.

“From an administrative purpose, we’re really excited about where we are from a team perspective. We’re over 90% of guys who have started the process. All we’re trying to do is educate them and trying to give them the information. We understand it’s a very personal decision. They’re doing a great job with it, as is our medical team.”

Bonus Points: The Best Player Interactions of the Week

• The rookies took the stage for the team’s annual singing contest. Let’s just say, they all should stick to their day jobs.

• Boston Scott Security

• Sunday, July 31 first Military Day at training camp. The Eagles wore their jerseys with the camouflage numbers, started the practice with the national anthem, and exchanged jerseys at the end with the servicemen and servicewomen.

You can follow Candis McLean on Twitter (@CandisRMcLean) and e-mail her at candis.mclean@gmail.com.

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