For more than an hour the Eagles went through practice at the NovaCare Complex during Organized Team Activities – helmets on, shells, shorts – and it was glorious. Not since February 12 in the Super Bowl had the team been on the field in helmets until this week and, after seven weeks of an offseason program, the OTAs began.
Conclusions to be drawn?
Nothing, from a depth-chart perspective. That's just the way it has to be, because we know how these things change. The defense has a different look in these voluntary workouts but that's going to change as well when Training Camp begins. There are some hot takes to be had, because that's the world in which we now live, but what's the point, really? To get all steamed and bothered after a non-contact, no-pads practice is just not worth the energy.
But it's fun ... There is no doubt about that. It's the Eagles. On the field. With the opener of the regular season something like – gulp – 100 days away on Friday.
"Stay in the day-to-day mindset," safety Terrell Edmunds said after practice. "We're not even in pads yet, so what we're doing here is laying the groundwork for Training Camp."
Oh, there were some moments to enjoy, that's for sure. Quarterback Jalen Hurts looked great throwing the football and showing that his timing with wide receiver A.J. Brown remains on point. D'Andre Swift, wearing jersey No. 0, looked quick and hard to cover coming out of the backfield on passing routes in 7-on-7 drills. Cornerback Darius Slay had a couple of pass breakups down the sideline. Linebacker Christian Elliss had a terrific, leaping interception and on the next play tight end Dallas Goedert made a nifty, lay-out, fingertips catch of a Hurts pass.
The tempo was great. Very few balls landed on the ground in 7-on-7, and that's a good thing. It was crisp and efficient, and the Eagles walked off the field healthy for another day.
They've spent seven weeks together in the classroom and in the strength room and now they are on the field for these OTAs and the work is smooth and purposeful. The story of the day, if there was one, was Cam Jurgens lining up at right guard as the Eagles – who are going to explore all options at that position to see who earns the job – next to Jason Kelce at center.
"I want to be an athlete in any spot I'm in," Jurgens said. "I don't want to fit a pizza-cutter mold of whatever a right guard is supposed to be. I just want to be out there and be a good O-lineman. It's my job to earn my playing time, so that's the mindset I'm in. I'm out to earn time, wherever that may be."
The Eagles kicked off the month of June with their first open-to-the-media practice of the spring. Check out some of the highlights.
Nothing is etched in stone here, not by a long shot. That's just not the way it is done in the NFL. The Eagles have built a roster that demands position-to-position competition, and that is something that every player understands. The team is aiming for success and that is the over-arching message, and to achieve that the groundwork is being set. That really is what this spring is all about: The Eagles want to emerge after OTAs end next week a healthy team, a connected team, and a team that is working in the right direction.
"This team is one that welcomes everyone and I just love that," Edmunds said after his press conference ended. "We all genuinely like each other. We had a team bowling event yesterday and that blew my mind. It was so much fun being out there with everyone and competing and just enjoying each other. Doing those kinds of things brings a team closer together. We've been working together for weeks now and to get out and enjoy some time bowling, having fun, that was great. Every day, it's fun here. I'm really enjoying it."
I could tell you how good the Eagles looked for the hour the OTA practice was opened to the media and for sure there was plenty of Twitter activity and notes taken as the first glimpse of the 2023 team went public. That's not what Thursday was all about at the NovaCare Complex. It was another day for the players and coaches to get on the same page and correct mistakes and improve.
One percent better.
"I understand that they're (coaches) asking a lot more of me and that's OK," defensive tackle Jordan Davis said, as he has a chance to earn more playing time at defensive tackle in his second season. "I want to make sure I set a great example for the rookies. I want to do the little things correctly."
Ah, so that is the essence of what this spring is all about. With new coordinators and new players on the roster, the big things are so very important. But at the end of the day, it is about the little things. How to be an Eagle. How to maximize your ability. How to condition and connect in the best way possible. The little things that add up to the big things that add up to wins in the 2023 season.