Eagles camp report: Temperatures rise as Jalen Hurts-AJ Brown connection heats up

“Have you hydrated?” Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai asked 30 minutes before the team was scheduled to practice. The temperature pushed into the 90s during the Eagles’ second session of the summer, and they practiced for a little more than 75 minutes. Here’s a running diary, or at least the parts that weren’t covered in sweat in the notes.

10:01 a.m. ET — As the Eagles stretch, the only player on the active roster missing is edge rusher Haason Reddick. He is still nursing groin soreness and watched from the sidelines Friday. The team expects him back after the weekend. Derek Barnett (knee) and Avonte Maddox (toe) remain limited participants.

10:14 a.m – Coach Nick Sirianni raises his temperature during ball security drills. You read Bo Wulf’s report from Wednesday’s session and Sirianni remained lit. He wants the Eagles’ fundamentals perfect during camp. He then points out – colorfully – that if it’s not perfect in practice, it won’t be perfect in a game.

Sirianni already has an obsession with detail, but I can see him going into overdrive in that area this summer. He will try to do what he can to guard against complacency with the team, and one way to do that is by not letting small details slip.

10:30 – The Eagles go to their first 11-on-11 period and the first play is a deep pass down the left sideline from Jalen Hurts to AJ Brown. It looked like Josiah Scott was in coverage, and having Brown against Scott is a size mismatch. Brown was able to create separation with his body, outmuscling the small cornerback and making a play on the ball in the air. Brown had 88 catches for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season with the Eagles. It might be ambitious to expect more, but it’s clear when you watch him that he’s one of the elite receivers in the NFL. Hurts later connected with Brown across the middle, proof of how the wideout can make plays at all levels.

10:35 — It is worth pointing out that Cam Jurgens remains with the first team offensive line. This is not a situation where the Eagles rotate right guard by day. It is clear that Jurgens’ job is to lose. Also, Dennis Kelly is with the second-team offense at left tackle. It didn’t take long.

10:39 — In the seven-on-seven period, Maddox takes some snaps in the slot. That’s a good sign for the Eagles. They need him healthy — and to stay healthy.

The number I’ve written down in my notebook a few times is “39.” It’s Deon Cain who was signed this week. He took a couple of nice catches in this session. Cain was on the Eagles’ practice squad for part of last season and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts when Sirianni was there. He played in the United States Football League last season. The Eagles have open spots down the depth chart, and Cain has the experience and good size (6-foot-2, 202 pounds) to try to push for a spot this summer.

10:49 — Speaking of wide receivers with a winding path, Greg Ward had the biggest gain of the day when he caught a deep pass from Marcus Mariota in another 11-on-11 period. Ward has been with the Eagles since 2017 — his seventh summer with the team — but he didn’t play in a game last season. A good sign for him to get open downfield, and a nice pass from Mariota, who bounced back from an inconsistent first day.

10:50 — I have “3” in my notebook, so this is a good time to write about Nolan Smith. The caveat to any Smith note: let’s wait for the pads to come on because practices this time of summer tend to favor athleticism and those who can make plays in space. But the athleticism is apparent, and what jumped out at me Friday was the versatility. He was quick around the edge and also looked natural dropping into coverage between Dallas Goedert and Boston Scott. It may seem hypocritical to emphasize coverage when we made a point last year to note that Reddick was here to rush the quarterback and not drop, but judging by Smith’s ability, he just looks like a natural with whatever The Eagles are asking him to do.

10:52 a.m – An underthrown pass from Hurts to DeVonta Smith was the only glaring blemish on the quarterback’s morning. Hurts was otherwise on his mark most of the training and made sensible decisions. There were a few potential sacks when he held the ball longer than you normally see in practice, but a big part of Hurts’ game is his ability to improvise. An annual training camp debate is about when to blow the whistle.


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10:54 am — Jordan Davis gets a nice push up the middle. Davis needs to show he can be productive as a pass rusher this summer. He is said to be in good shape, and the Eagles are optimistic about their 2022 first-round pick.

“I love the form he’s come in, I love the mentality he’s playing with,” Desai said. “It’s early days. We’ll see it day in, day out.”

The Eagles need to keep refining Davis’ skills, but they also know he has traits that can’t be taught.

“Go find another human being who looks like him,” said Desai. “There are not many people who are built like that. He is strong. He is fast. He is fast. He is strong. It’s about putting it all together and then we help him put it all together and get the right combination of guys in there and be impactful.”

11 in the morning — Sirianni attended a special teams period with Matt Patricia, so this is a good time to discuss the former Detroit Lions coach (and New England Patriots assistant) who is now the Eagles’ senior defensive assistant. Patricia and Darius Slay famously clashed in Detroit. Slay, in his first public comments with Philadelphia reporters since the hiring Friday, said the Eagles consulted with him before hiring Patricia. Slay said he did not object and the two have since reconciled.

“Me and him talked man-to-man and we got a great understanding,” Slay said. “We both want to win. He’s here to help me get better. He wants to get better as a coach. So we’re in good hands right now. It took a lot for both of us to talk. So we made a good piece of work.”

Sirianni said Thursday that Patricia can be a valuable resource as a former head coach, and the knowledge from Bill Belichick’s coaching tree will allow Sirianni to grow.

“Always been fascinated by that coaching tree,” Sirianni said, “and how I can pick the brains of that (tree) so I can continue to get better as a coach and ultimately we get better as a team.”

11:04 am – A potential highlight for Quez Watkins was ruled incomplete along the sideline, but Watkins held on to the ball in close coverage and almost tapped his feet into the field. It’s a big summer for Watkins, who enters his fourth season after an inconsistent 2022 campaign. Sirianni said Watkins had a strong summer. He has remained with the first team attack. The only player who could push him is Olamide Zaccheaus, who has been mostly quiet through two days but looked good in space on a short end late in Friday’s practice when he ran across the formation to make the catch.

11:08 am — You’ve heard of Sirianni’s obsession with situational football. There were two situations he chose in the final practice for the whole team. The first was a two-point conversion to win the game, which the Eagles didn’t actually attempt because the defense jumped offside. The next was a four-point play — a play that amounted to a third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, leaving the Eagles to score a touchdown or settle for a field goal. Mariota scrambled to his right, but no one was open and he ended up running out of bounds.

11:19 — Practice ends and the Eagles have Saturday off before returning Sunday. The pads should come on next week, where there will be more to look at — especially at the line of scrimmage. The heat wave is also expected to break before then.

(Photo: Andy Lewis / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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