As the Eagles prepare for the start of training camp next week, the hard work is already well underway.
Perhaps no one has been working harder than Jalen Hurts.
“Jalen knows what’s up for grabs,” Lane Johnson said in a recent interview with NBC10.
Hurts, 22, is entering his second NFL season with a chance to prove himself as a franchise quarterback. The Eagles still haven’t named him the starter but that will obviously be his role in 2021 after the trade of Carson Wentz this offseason.
The thing that impressed most folks about Hurts during his rookie campaign was his professionalism and leadership qualities. Even as the ship was sinking around him, Hurts remained stoic and showed a lot to his teammates while he started the final four games of the 2020 season. Overall, his numbers weren’t mind-blowing, but he showed some flashes with his arm and his legs. Enough flashes to make him a really intriguing player entering 2021.
Now with a chance to prove himself as a starter in the league, it should come as no surprise that Hurts continues to work extremely hard.
Johnson has gotten a chance to really see Hurts’ work ethic this offseason. Johnson said Hurts typically gets in early morning workouts, around 5 a.m., with a few of his receivers and will then sometimes go to a local high school to get in some 7-on-7 work.
“He’s a tremendous worker and he’s good with his teammates,” Johnson said. “A lot of the linemen can vouch for that too, a lot of our team. We’ve got camp coming up so for him and the rest of the Eagles, we’ve got a lot to prove. We were not where we wanted to be last year so we’ve got a lot to get done over the next two months.”
This offseason, Johnson has even hosted Hurts at his home gym — the Bro Barn — where Hurts was recently seen deadlifting 620 pounds.
“He’s super strong,” Johnson said. “His dad has been a coach his whole life, he came from a coaching background. He’s an ex-powerlifter, so he maybe could have out-deadlifted me if he wanted to but trying to hold it back for my ego’s sake.”
In order for Hurts to have a big sophomore season, he’ll need some help. The Eagles drafted his former teammate DeVonta Smith in the first round of the draft, which should go a long way.
But the biggest key for success is probably the offensive line. Last season, the Eagles were forced to use 13 different offensive line combinations and only Jason Kelce was able to play every game. If the O-line can stay healthy in 2021, at least Hurts will have a fighting chance to prove himself.
Last year, Johnson eventually shut down his season in November and opted for yet another ankle surgery after he said it felt like he had been playing on a “wobbly shopping cart.”
The Eagles will need Johnson, 31, to play at a high level in 2021 and going forward. He’s the only player on the roster signed through the 2025 season.
“It’s healed up. I can say it’s probably 90 percent,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if it’ll be what my right ankle is. When you get surgery, it’s just really tight compared to the other one. So the more I run around, the more I do football stuff, the better it feels. I feel like training camp will just be another step forward for me. I know it’ll be 10 times better than what it was last year.”
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