Head Coach Nick Sirianni met the media on Friday afternoon following the first practice of the team's Rookie Minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. Here are some takeaways from what he said:
1. While Sirianni wouldn't comment on "who stood out" after one practice during which players wore helmets, shells, and shorts with no contact, he did talk about quarterback Carson Strong, whom the team signed following the 2022 NFL Draft. Strong had a brilliant career at the University of Nevada, where he tossed 74 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions. At 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, Strong showed up on the field.
"I thought he did a good job today. It's a lot. He's reading plays differently and running different plays, to have to go back there and manage everything," Sirianni said. "One thing I'm impressed by is when a guy can come out and just call a play because there are a lot of guys that don't call plays, right, and they are looking to the sideline. We call plays in the huddle. He was pretty smooth at that. That means he studied hard. He got ready for this day today. He was really sharp, and he knew what to do and he knew where to go with the football. He has a big arm, and you definitely can see that. Those are tools to work with. His size and arm strength is noticeable when he's out there."
2. Third-round draft pick linebacker Nakobe Dean is known as an intense, fierce competitor and the coaching staff has already seen that kind of mentality in him on display.
"I can sense he's all ball all the time, whether we are in a meeting or on the field, he's locked in," Sirianni said. "You definitely felt that from him, and we knew that about him before we even drafted him. He definitely showed that today, and he showed that yesterday in our meetings."
3. This is a two-day camp designed to get the players – 42 of them present – accustomed to the way the Eagles do things and to give them a taste of the playbook. Sirianni and his coaching staff are keeping it simple for the rookies this weekend by design.
"The main thing is that they show us what they can do. I've instructed the coaches to be very basic in their installs, to not do a lot so they can go out there and show us what they can do," Sirianni said. "That's what we want to see. Obviously, I want these guys talking to each other and connecting and getting in tune with what we believe in and our core values, all those things off the field and learning our systems. Really these two days are about what they can do and finding out who sticks out. Eliot (Shorr-Parks) asked me the question earlier, who sticks out, what they can do and that's really what it is. The main thing on our end as coaches is to not do too much, 'Hey we don't want to see this guy in this or this guy in this.' Just see what they can do in some individual drills and team drills and see what they can do in some one-on-one drills so we can continue to evaluate these guys in person."
4. The Eagles waived offensive lineman Nate Herbig earlier in the week and he has since joined the New York Jets. Sirianni explained the reason Herbig is no longer an Eagle.
"We have a pretty deep room right there, and Nate did an unbelievable job as far as being able to step in and play in some very important moments," the head coach said. "He gave us some really good reps and really good play in some meaningful games. But we have a deep room right there. Won't get into any personnel decisions at this particular time, but I can't thank Nate enough for all the things that he contributed to this program in the first year and the years that he's been here. Again, like I said, he's a great teammate. The Jets are going to be glad to have him, and I'm happy for him that he landed on his feet because like I said, he gave us a lot of good minutes last year."
5. Connecting is a big, big thing for Sirianni and the Eagles. You know that already. Veterans helping young players – also very important. So as the rookies and the veterans blend next week at the NovaCare Complex, Sirianni expects to see everyone working together.
"It's just important they are around their teammates right now. This is a time for them to build connection. Sometimes it's hard in the season to build connections. You're so focused on the game and the next thing – now we work like crazy to do it, but it seems like there's a little bit more time now," he said. "They work out, they go to meetings, and then they have time the rest of the day to connect with each other. That's definitely something we notice that these guys are really working to connect at this time and help each other out. I think we have a great group of guys that truly genuinely like being around each other and truly want to help each other out. I see that every day."
6. The defensive line has had an infusion of talent in the offseason – Davis in the Draft, Haason Reddick (a linebacker who will help in the pass rush) in free agency, and retaining tackle Fletcher Cox and end Derek Barnett in free agency – and Sirianni likes the look of what he has there. Asked about Barnett, the team's first-round draft pick in 2017, Sirianni was extremely excited to have him back for 2022.
"Ever since I got here, I see the same guy every single day that's determined every day to get better at his craft," Sirianni said. "Derek is obsessed with football and trying to become the best player that he can. I really appreciate that with him. He works hard in the classroom, the weight room, and works extremely hard on the field. I just see the same guy every single day. I'm excited that we have him back on this football team to continue to add depth to that defensive line. I really think we are in a good spot with the defensive line and really excited about that group. I'm really excited to have Derek Barnett back on this football team."