Wednesday's practice kicked off Nick Sirianni's first Training Camp as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. It also featured the first time that Sirianni had his team compete in 7-on-7 and team drills since the spring workouts focused on teaching the scheme.
The two things that stand out to the players from Sirianni thus far are his energy and the way he holds players accountable. Even defensive end Brandon Graham, the longest-tenured Eagle, has been corrected in meetings showing that it doesn't matter whether you're a rookie free agent or a veteran team captain, these coaches want each and every player to focus on executing the fundamentals.
"Everybody's coming here with the right mindset to get better. Nick's done a great job of setting the standards, setting what he believes is important to be successful in this league, as a teammate, as a player, as a coach. And now it's on us to go out here and work on it every single day," said All-Pro center Jason Kelce, who has now had seven different head coaches dating back to his college days at the University of Cincinnati.
"I think we have great leadership in the building. We have great coaches. We have great players. Now, we're out here together, trying to work on it, and bring everything as close together and put it all in the right direction."
Here are other news, notes, and observations from Wednesday's practice:
• Following practice, Sirianni said that he wants to see quarterback Jalen Hurts take the reins as the No. 1 quarterback. Hurts took all of the first-team reps on Wednesday.
"I hold myself accountable to go out there and play at a high level every time," Hurts said. "When you climb this mountain, it doesn't happen overnight. You have to be patient with that. You have to put the time in. You have to remain diligent with your work and put maximum effort in every day."
Hurts met the media face-to-face instead of virtually for the first time as a Philadelphia Eagle on Wednesday. As reporters shouted over each other to get their questions in, Hurts remarked, "So, this is how y'all do it?" Much different than the Zoom press conferences of a year ago. – Chris McPherson
• It was great to get out onto the field and watch football up close again – something I haven't done in over a year. I arrived at the practice field early, and was on-hand when the skill players on offense started warming up. There was an assortment of equipment available, and it was great seeing the young guys working hard before practice. Rookie running back Kenneth Gainwell was glued to the Jugs Machine for a long time, while DeVonta Smith got dozens and dozens of reps on the tetherball before jumping onto the field. – Ben Fennell
• As individual periods got underway, my eyes were not leaving Smith. It's clear that the first-round pick is making his presence felt immediately. He's not a loud "rah-rah" guy, but he has an alpha personality that showed up just in warmups. Smith was first in line for each drill, and then got back to the front of the line to take the first "live" rep. It's impressive to watch a young player carry himself the way Smith does. – Ben
• The first drill I took had the tight ends and quarterbacks working down in the red zone, running routes on air. Caleb Wilson had an impressive diving catch in the end zone. Jason Croom earned praise from Head Coach Nick Sirianni for his technique at the top of his route that ended with a "score." Tyree Jackson, young player making the switch from quarterback to tight end, absolutely looks the part. Jackson had a drop later in the session, but also had one of the highlights of the day when he trucked a linebacker in the middle of the field after the catch. – Fran Duffy
• Team action gets underway in the red zone with some 11-on-11 work. Brandon Graham got into the backfield to rassle up Boston Scott on a run play to the right side. Jordan Howard got the ball a couple of plays later and had a nice run inside, thanks in part to some good push by the second-team offensive line. Young receiver Michael Walker climbed the ladder and nearly came down with a high throw from Joe Flacco, but came down just out of bounds in the back of the end zone. – Fran
• Graham added on Wednesday that he wants to play 15 seasons in the NFL. He's entering Year No. 12. The "old man" jokes have added another proverbial chip on his shoulder. He knows young pass rushers like Josh Sweat and third-round pick Milton Williams are coming for him, but he's not going to make it easy.
"I know he's coming. He's the future," Graham said of Sweat in particular. "I can see it, but they got to go get it. I'm not going to make it easy for him."
Of course, Graham noted that he wouldn't mind "pulling a (Brent) Celek" if the Eagles win another Super Bowl. – C-Mac
• It's going to be fun watching the versatility amongst the skill position players on offense. The Eagles have a handful of developmental tight ends on the roster with intriguing skill sets, including Jackson, Croom, and Hakeem Butler – along with even bigger receivers like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and rookie Jhamon Ausbon (who has a really thick lower half). At running back, will we see a lot of multiple-running back sets with players like Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Gainwell, etc.? There's no true fullback on the roster, but it's going to be so fun watching how Sirianni and Co. use this group of playmakers. – Ben
• One battle that should be fun to watch throughout Training Camp? Second-year right tackle Jack Driscoll against veteran pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan. I didn't watch every snap, obviously, but saw both guys get wins against each other on Wednesday. Remember back to the opener last season, as Driscoll made his first start in the NFL after an injury to Lane Johnson, and he more than held his own against Kerrigan in his first NFL action. Fast-forward 11 months later and those guys are teammates going head-to-head every day in practice. – Fran
• Driscoll was one of the offensive linemen thrust into starting duty as the Eagles utilized 14 different combinations up front in the 2020 season. It was a welcome sight seeing the Pro Bowl wall on the right side with tackle Lane Johnson and guard Brandon Brooks return from injury. Brooks missed the entire campaign with an Achilles injury.
"Brandon Brooks is a special player. Everybody knows that in this city," Kelce said. "It's great to have him back out there, a guy that has all the tools physically you could want. Mentally, he's a smart player, great leader. It obviously makes my job a whole lot easier." – C-Mac
• One thing that stands out to me about this new offensive scheme? I'm having trouble locking in on the football! Maybe I'm a bit rusty after not having been out here for a while, but with all of the play-action and screens and misdirection I had issues keeping my eyes where they needed to be. Starting to feel bad for some of these defensive players! – Ben
• With Alex Singleton and Rodney McLeod both unable to practice, it was good to see a couple of young players step up in their stead early. Former third-round pick Davion Taylor got starting reps alongside Eric Wilson, while fourth-round choice K'Von Wallace got first-team snaps next to Anthony Harris. Wallace nearly had an outstanding play in the back of the end zone in a 7-on-7 drill, leaping up to break up a throw and nearly coming down with a pass intended for Dallas Goedert. It was a hell of a play, but Wallace was hard on himself – hitting the ground for pushups after the high-flying pass breakup. – Fran
• Backup slot corner Josiah Scott jumped a route on the goal line for an interception, stepping in front of running back Jordan Howard. Turnovers definitely appear to be a point of emphasis with this defensive staff – later in the drill, cornerback Craig James came in late and punched the ball out of the hands of a pass catcher, picked up the fumble, and sprinted the other way as coaches urged his teammates to follow in pursuit. – Fran
• Staying in the secondary, newly signed cornerback Steven Nelson made his presence felt early in a team drill, swallowing up a screen pass intended for rookie DeVonta Smith. Nelson is known as a highly competitive corner – a pesky player who lives in the hip pocket of receivers. That was a good example of the kind of plays he's made over his career, forcing the quick incompletion. Nelson got the starting reps on the outside opposite Darius Slay on Day 1. – Fran
• One young player who caught my eye was rookie linebacker JaCoby Stevens, a college safety who worked with the third-team defense on Wednesday. He was calling the defense before the snap. That was impressive for a guy making a position switch. Stevens had a nice stop late in practice as well, striking a ballcarrier on the perimeter. – Ben