Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts joins DeSean Jackson for workouts in Florida 

Jalen Hurts joins DeSean Jackson for workouts in Florida 

Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts has joined DeSean Jackson for workouts in Tampa Bay, Florida, according to Hurts’ Instagram account. 

Hurts posted photos of the two with the caption, “Locked In.” 

Jackson has spent most of his time this offseason working out in Florida. Hurts was previously working out in Houston, Texas. It’s possible this is the first time the two have worked together. 

While Hurts was a second-round pick, the rookie quarterback is expected to begin the 2020 season as the third-stringer behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. 

Earlier this offseason, Wentz got a group of receivers together in Houston and Fletcher Cox gathered most of the Eagles’ defensive line down on his ranch in Texas. 

This workout in Florida comes nine days after the NFLPA’s medical director, Dr. Thom Mayer, issued a statement advising players to cease working out with teammates to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Since then, Tom Brady has very publicly continued to work out with teammates, which did not make NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith very happy. 

There’s a fine line here, I suppose. Players are trying to stay ready for the season and hopefully they’re taking as many precautions as possible during these workouts. But, at least at some level, they’re also holding these workouts against the medical advice from the medical director of their own players association. 

Earlier this offseason, before the advice from Dr. Mayer, Doug Pederson praised Wentz and Cox for hosting workouts for their teammates. 

“I think it's important,” Pederson said on June 16. “I love the fact that our veteran players, guys like Fletch and Carson, Carson has done it in the past obviously but now in this time where we are trying to protect not only our players but our staff, as well. But at the same time, I think it's important that they get together and they build team chemistry as a position group, whether it's D-Line or receivers and get together like they are doing. I commend the guys for doing that and taking time.

“One of the things, it's been small groups, so they have been protected and that's our goal, first and foremost, but it doesn't go without saying that that's a great way to start building chemistry, especially with the amount of young receivers that we have working with Carson.”

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Jalen Hurts impressing Eagles with mental ability

Jalen Hurts impressing Eagles with mental ability

They haven’t seen him throw a pass yet. So it’s a little early to start raving about how far along Jalen Hurts is.

But Doug Pederson did sound encouraged Tuesday when talking about the rookie quarterback’s progress when it comes to the mental side of things.

Hurts, the Heisman Trophy runner-up for Oklahoma last fall, has been working at a high level in virtual meetings, Pederson said, and while that might not be quite the same as chucking the ball up and down the field to DeSean Jackson and Jalen Reagor at OTAs, it’s all the Eagles can go on right now.

“His growth from a mental standpoint from the beginning of the offseason to now has been very good,” Pederson said. “His ability to recall plays and recite plays. One thing (QBs coach) Press Taylor has done is put him into a huddle situation where he's calling plays and being able to just spit that back to him. He's done that at a really good, high level, and now it’s just a matter of once we get him on the grass, he has to do it for real and go from there. But I've been really impressed with his progress this spring.”

Recall, OTAs and minicamps are all about the mental side of the game, anyway. The coaches call them meetings on the field. This spring has been exactly the same.

Only minus the field part. 

Pederson said they're taking their time with Hurts, because they have plenty of time. There's no reason to rush the process and overload anybody in June.

“With Jalen [or any] young quarterbacks, you always have an idea or an understanding of where they are, not only at the beginning of your offseason, but at the end,” Pederson said. “You take things slower with young players. You take things a little bit slower so that they can understand the terminology. They can call a play in a [virtual] huddle and teach them everything else that goes along with it. The one thing is just not having them [practicing] on the grass.”

Pederson has said Hurts will begin the coming season as the No. 3 quarterback, behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. And the plan is to use him as often as possible in a variety of gadget plays.

He has a long way to go, but for a 21-year-old kid making the transition from college to the NFL, it sounds like he’s at least off to a good start.

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How one former Eagle sees Doug Pederson using Jalen Hurts in his rookie year

How one former Eagle sees Doug Pederson using Jalen Hurts in his rookie year

Former Eagles great and current Eagles radio analyst Mike Quick spends plenty of time around the team, both in- and out-of-season.

So when Quick chooses to hop on NFL Network and offer up his thoughts on the Eagles' 2020 plans, it's worth stopping and listening.

Last month, Doug Pederson turned a few heads when he effectively guaranteed the backup quarterback position to Nate Sudfeld, even after the Eagles spent valuable capital in a second-round draft pick on Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Which brought up the question: What will Hurts' role be, exactly, when the Eagles begin their season in September?

Here's what Quick had to say about what he thinks Hurts will be doing as a rookie:

QUICK: So I think that, initially, [Pederson] will use [Hurts] pretty much as a gadget guy. You look around the NFL, and all of these guys that are smart play callers, and guys who plan plays, they do a lot of things now that we haven't seen in conventional football. Doug Pederson is one of those guys who likes to come up with things that no one's seen, so I think they'll use Jalen Hurts in a number of ways.

It sounds like Hurts' rookie year will be more smoke and mirror, and less substantive quarterback play.

The Eagles will likely benefit most, long-term, from using Hurts as a true quarterback rather than an offbeat gadget play in the Taysom Hill mold. In three years, Hill hasn't shown himself to be of much value outside a few snaps per game. If the Eagles plan on eventually moving Hurts for assets, they'd rather let other teams see him play like an NFL-ready quarterback.

But in the short-term, the chances to put Hurts in that position will be few and far between.

This certainly isn't the first time we've heard someone discuss Hurts as a potential gadget weapon in his first year. That was essentially everyone's first take in the days following his selection, before a wave of "No, he's going to be a real quarterback" followed.

But it's noteworthy to hear a guy like Quick, considering his relationship with the organization, say that he expects Hurts to take on a gadget-type role in his rookie year.

Earlier this offseason, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro examined how exactly the Eagles can wiggle Hurts into their game plans, even as the third-string quarterback:

If there’s a chance for Hurts to even play any kind of a role as a rookie, the Eagles will probably need to keep three quarterbacks active on game day. But if they’re going to be using Hurts as anything other than a quarterback, that’s probably not a bad idea. 

The Eagles have tried to say multiple times that Hurts is a quarterback first and they’re going to develop him as a quarterback. But they’ve also dropped hints along the way that they have some plans for him as a non-traditional quarterback to begin his career. 

And NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank predicted last month that Pederson will use Hurts in very specific situations this season:

7. What about Jalen Hurts?: I’m not sure he’ll justify where he was drafted, but I do expect Hurts to make an impact, mainly as a short-yardage and goal-line runner.

Prediction: Hurts becomes the first Eagles rookie with five rushing TDs in a season since Don “Heartbeat” Johnson in 1953. 

Hurts' role in Pederson's offense will probably be one of the more compelling story lines, all season long.

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