PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Hurts is starting to find his groove in the dog days of training camp. The Eagles’ starting QB has improved his accuracy and efficiency in practice over the past three weeks, and his throws — particularly his deep balls — have been on target on a consistent basis
And while a lot has been made about his infatuation with star receiver A.J. Brown, Hurts spread the ball around effectively on Wednesday, Philadelphia’s final practice before the preseason opener against the Jets.
Jalen Hurts: Accurate, efficient, and looking to go deep
Hurts has been a polarizing presence in Philadelphia throughout his two-plus years with the Eagles. Some fans are all-in on his dual-threat talent, while others have screamed for a more efficient pocket passer.
And while Hurts still has a lot of work to do, especially from a timing aspect, the most positive takeaway from his third training camp is that he has improved his accuracy and efficiency. Even if it’s only been by a small margin, the difference in his delivery is noticeable.
His best toss of the shorts-and-shorts practice was a throw to an out route to WR Jalen Reagor, who was running with the first-team offense. Reagor got a step on cornerback Darius Slay to the sideline, and Hurts put the ball where only the wideout could reach it. Reagor made an impressive fingertip grab before running out of bound for roughly a 10-yard gain.
During 7-on-7 work, Hurts went to the sky for Brown, as he’s regularly done during the summer. He tossed a 50/50 ball to Brown as the receiver ran a “go” route against cornerback James Bradberry. Brown won by delaying his hands before the catch with a subtle push-off that wouldn’t have been called offensive pass interference in a game. Brown made the catch with one hand and clung the ball to his body for a TD.
A few plays later, Hurts connected on a rainbow-toss touchdown in 7-on-7 to wideout Zach Pascal. Hurts and Pascal are just starting to forge chemistry as the receiver returns from food poisoning that sidelined him for two weeks.
Overall, this was a sharp practice for Hurts, who avoided turnovers and off-the-mark throws.
Kenny Gainwell, Anthony Harris join Jason Kelce and others on injury list
While offensive tackles Jordan Mailata (concussion) and Andre Dillard (concussion) have returned to limited work in practice this week, the Eagles’ injury list continues to bulge to epic proportions.
Center Jason Kelce is set for an elbow procedure, which according to multiple sources, should put him in good position for a Week 1 return. While Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni refused to put a timetable on Kelce’s return, he shared the optimism of a potential season-opening appearance, noting the center’s impressive games-started streak.
Joining Kelce on the sidelines — or in the training room — were safety Anthony Harris and running back Kenny Gainwell, among others.
Below is the complete list of players who didn’t practice on Wednesday:
- C Jason Kelce (elbow)
- TE Grant Calcaterra (hamstring)
- OT Le’Raven Clark (hamstring)
- RB Kenny Gainwell (hip)
- S Anthony Harris (tooth)
- WR John Hightower (groin)
- CB Jimmy Moreland (ankle)
- RB Boston Scott (concussion)
- WR DeVonta Smith (groin)
- S Jaquiski Tartt (personal)
- CB Kary Vincent (groin)
- WR Greg Ward (toe)
- WR Keric Wheatfall (hamstring)
Secondary makes some plays
While Brown has regularly won his 1-on-1 matchups, the Eagles cornerbacks have still held their own. Slay had an impressive pass breakup in the middle of the field to begin 11-on-11 work. Bradberry later got revenge on Hurts and Brown with a breakup of his own.
Special-teams ace/safety Andre Chachere, who has had an impressive camp, had a nice breakup on Hurts’ throw to Pascal in 11-on-11 work.
The lone obvious mishap for the secondary was a defensive pass interference call on second-year cornerback Zech McPhearson. He got a bit too physical with wideout Lance Lenoir. That said, McPhearson did bounce back with a pass breakup on a ball from Minshew to wideout Devon Allen later in practice.
Gardner Minshew shows life
Backup QB Gardner Minshew hasn’t had a good camp through three weeks. He similarly struggled last summer in Jacksonville before he was traded to the Eagles. It could just be that he’s not a very good practice player, but right now, he’s getting outworked by dark horse Reid Sinnett at the position.
On Wednesday, though, Minshew had some solid moments. He connected with Pascal on a pretty touchdown in red-zone drills and lofted an impressive pass down the seam to tight end Noah Togiai. He also had a similar connection with tight end Jack Stoll down the field.
The lone blemish on the day for Minshew wasn’t totally his fault. He threw to a target (didn’t catch who it was) who failed to haul in a pass, and the ball bounced in the air for an interception by linebacker Christian Elliss.
More notes from Philadelphia Eagles training camp
- Sirianni was asked about starter reps for the first preseason game before practice. He said he expects the starters to play a series or two on Friday against the Jets.
- Along with Dontrelle Inman, former Los Angeles Chargers wideout/special-teams ace Geremy Davis is interning for the Eagles’ coaching staff. Unlike Inman, who started working with the staff last week, Davis has been working with the receiver group all summer. Davis played under Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen in Los Angeles.
- Second-year defensive end Tarron Jackson has started to stand out a bit more in practice. He posted another “sack” in 11-on-11 drills on Wednesday. The “sack” was so obvious that the play was immediately blown dead.
- With Kelce out of action, second-round pick Cam Jurgens handled starting center duties.