PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — New coach, new quarterback, new beginnings. It’s back to business for the Eagles in South Philadelphia as the team hosts its first Training Camp practice under first-year head coach Nick Sirianni on Wednesday.'My House Was Targeted': Philadelphia Anti-Violence Activist Speaks Out After Home Firebombed
The expectations are low as rookie head coach Nick Sirianni and his staff leads a rebuilding club.
The biggest question heading into this season is whether Jalen Hurts can be the starting quarterback moving forward. After showing promise in his rookie season after taking over for Wentz,
He showed promise in his rookie season after taking over for Wentz, but 2021 will be the true test to determine if he can be the organization’s next franchise quarterback.
1. Jalen Hurts is the starting quarterback
Hurts hasn’t been officially named the team starting quarterback, but is expected to be at the start of Training Camp. With Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens also on the depth chart, some may wonder if he will be QB1 for the season opener in Atlanta come September?
In the last week, more reports have come out linking the Eagles to Texans QB Deshaun Watson — and they have the draft picks to do it. CBSSports.com reports the Eagles have 2022 draft capital with two first-round picks — and another first-round pick if Wentz plays 70% of the snaps and the Colts make the playoffs. This could mean the Birds front office isn’t sold on the second-year QB being the organization’s next franchise QB.
With Watson facing legal allegations, including 22 accusations of sexual impropriety. As these legal matters have yet to be settled, one report notes that a Philly-Houston trade might not happen until after the 2021 season.
While Hurts is expected to be QB1 this season, he has a lot to prove if he wants to solidify himself as the organization’s next franchise quarterback.
2. DeVonta Smith will make an immediate impact
It’s no secret the Eagles have struggled with the wide receiver position — and rookie WR is expected to make an immediate impact. As CBS Sports’ Jeff Kerr noted, Smith has more receptions and yards over his last two seasons with Alabama than all the wide receivers on the Eagles’ roster combined.
Confidence is crucial for an athlete playing in Philadelphia and the No. 10 overall pick has already shown his.
Smith says he’s confident he will make an immediate impact on the because he “can do everything.”
“I can play inside, outside, special teams, you can put me in the backfield; you can do whatever with me,” Smith previously said.
A connection between your QB and WR1 is extremely important. Did you know Smith and Hurts were teammates at Alabama? Prior to the NFL Draft, Hurts told CBS Sports reuniting with Hurts “would be great.”
3. Signing CB Steven Nelson was huge
The Eagles filled one of the biggest holes on their roster right before the start of training camp. Nelson was considered to be the top free-agent cornerback on the market.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming?
Nelson is expected to start opposite Darius Slay. Prior to the signing, the Eagles were heading into camp with Avonte Maddox and rookie Zech McPhearson battling for the starting outside CB position.
As CBS Sports points out, signing Nelson isn’t a knock on Maddox or McPhearson. The addition of Neslon should allow for Maddox to become the slot cornerback, which is a better fit for him, and McPhearson will give the roster depth behind Maddox or a third-string outside corner.
Maddox would also provide depth to the outside if the McPhearson wins a battle for the slot CB job.
Nelson, 28, has played more than 500 coverage snaps and had seven picks over the past three seasons. Both of his picks last season came against the Birds.
4. A healthy offensive line makes all the difference
Last season, the Eagles offensive line allowed 65 sacks, which was the most in the NFL. Wondering how they will bounce back to carry the offense after last year’s poor performance? Health.
Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson are back in the mix on the right side of the line after injuries sideline them. Brooks had only allowed 4 sacks in 4,219 snaps over four years with the Birds — but missed all of last season with a torn Achilles and Johnson dealt with an ankle injury throughout the season.
In our 4 Position Battles to Watch breakdown, we note that one of the biggest matchups to watch this training camp is who will earn the starting left tackle position. The team finally moved on from Peters, and now Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard will go head-to-head to see who can protect quarterback Jalen Hurts’ blindside.
There is also some depth to the offensive line since Nate Herbig and Jack Driscoll earned some reps while Brooks and Johnson were out. And you can’t forget about Jason Kelce who continues to play at an All-Pro level.
5. Miles Sanders will finally get the touches he deserves
There was a constant frustration surrounding the lack of touches running back Miles Sanders got under Doug Pederson. In his first two seasons with the Birds, he averaged 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Sanders is one of only two players in the history of the Eagles to have that many yards in his first two seasons — but only averaged 15 touches per game under Pederson. This is obviously not enough for a player who has explosive capabilities.
Hopefully, this will change under Sirianni. CBS Sports reports the Colts offense utilized its running backs in the passing game over the past three seasons. They say we can expect the same with Sanders with Sirianni calling plays.
The Colts ran the football around 5% more than the Birds did in 2020. This should benefit Sanders and the rest of the Eagles running backs.
CBS3 also broke down some position battles to keep your eye on during Training Camp.MORE NEWS: Philadelphia Native Will Smith Announces Book Tour Scheduled To Start In November
The Eagles’ first Training Camp practice begins at 10 a.m. at the Novacare Complex on Wednesday. Sirianni and players will have media availability following practice.