PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was the day Eagles fans have been waiting. The first training camp practice of the Nick Sirianni era in Philadelphia kicked off Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex.
There are so many questions about the Eagles under the new head coach, and Wednesday, some answers began to surface. It was like the first day of school Wednesday. Training camp Day 1, in the books.READ MORE: 4 Position Battles To Watch During Eagles Training Camp
With the season fast approaching, Sirianni says there isn’t a moment to waste.
“My message to the team is very clear, we attack every day. It’s a climb and we’re attacking every day,” Sirianni said.
After a year away, all the new Birds were on display — Sirianni, new coaching staff, DeVonta Smith. Jalen Hurts took reps as QB1. And there was even a new hairstyle.
— Pat Gallen (@PatGallenCBS3) July 28, 2021
“Just real excited to have him here and just having him out there today is huge for our football team as we get started,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said.
After what seemed like a heartfelt goodbye at the end of last season, plus months of rumors he’d be on the move, tight end Zach Ertz, with a new bleach blonde look, was there for the start of training camp.
Roseman was asked if he expects that to be the case for the start of the regular season.
“Yeah, I think when you talk about guys that are here and the kind of player that he is and you think about our skill position group, a young skill position group, and having a Pro Bowl player like that on your roster who players can learn from, it’s huge,” Roseman said.
“I’ve seen plenty of tape on Zach and everything that’s he’s done,” Sirianni said. “He’s been such a good player in this league for so long, but we’re just getting him here in person, seeing what he can do and seeing how we can use him.”READ MORE: 5 Things We 'Think' We Know As Eagles Kick Off Nick Sirianni Era
But the biggest takeaway after one day has nothing to do with drills or the playbook. It’s the Eagles’ vaccination rate among their players, which the team says is strong.
“We’re over 90% of guys who have started the process and all we’re trying to do is educate them and try to give them the information. We understand it’s a very personal decision,” Roseman said.
“We’re all just out here trying to do what we think is right for ourselves and our community,” Eagles center Jason Kelce said, “and there’s going to be people with different viewpoints on that. But as you said, Howie touched on the fact that we’re at 90% vaccination right now. The building is largely pretty safe for everybody involved.”
The Birds also got their first look at Smith, their first-round pick.
The Heisman Trophy winner knows Hurts from their time at Alabama, but he says they still need to find a rhythm.
“Haven’t really done much together, I mean a couple of times we got together but we’re still building,” Smith said. “It’s just the first day of training camp, so just trying to getting back into it, but it’s going to come.”
As for Hurts, he assumed the role of QB1 on Wednesday for the Eagles, despite Sirianni preaching competition all offseason.
Hurts isn’t shying away from that way of thinking, despite getting the bulk of the reps.
“You talk about training camp and the goals for training camp, you just want to build that chemistry, connect, compete and get better every day,” the quarterback said. “That’s really what we want to do.”
Sirianni said that Hurts has worked his butt off and has earned the right to be with the first unit.
Hurts joked about Ertz’s hair, saying he might dye his blonde too.MORE NEWS: DeVonta Smith Speaks Following 1st Eagles Training Camp Practice
So, as you can imagine, not a ton to take away from the very first practice of the year, but it was great to have football back.