Eagles Camp Highlights: Rookie WR Beats Darius Slay, UDFA Intercepts Jalen Hurts

John Hightower

Getty Eagles rookie WR John Hightower has patterned his game after Stefon Diggs.

The Eagles are back in pads for a fourth straight day, and position battles are getting heated.

Head coach Doug Pederson attempted to squash the debate about his backup quarterback. That job belongs to Nate Sudfeld “right now” and it would take a really strong showing from Jalen Hurts over the next two weeks to pry it away. So that’s (kind of) settled, moving on …

Fletcher Cox skipped Thursday’s session as the defensive tackle took advantage of an “older guy” maintenance day. Javon Hargrave, Miles Sanders and Derek Barnett remain sidelined until further notice. Josh Sweat was listed out with an illness.

The Eagles seemed to be working their wide receivers harder than usual and trotted out a starting unit comprised of DeSean Jackson (Z), J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (X) and Greg Ward (Y). Avonte Maddox was back at CB2 for a fourth straight day, with Rasul Douglas running with the second team. Sidney Jones is day-to-day with an injury.

Jackson started off practice with a nice catch-and-run touchdown from Carson Wentz, but the biggest highlight-reel plays came courtesy of fifth-round pick John Hightower. The rookie exploded by Darius Slay on a crossing route, then beat Rasul Douglas on a comeback route.

Hightower was one of three young receivers that Pederson mentioned by name when asked which guys have stood out to him so far in camp.

“I think there’s really several guys,” Pederson said. “We’ve talked about [Jalen [Reagor] just a little bit. Quez Watkins is another one that has stood out as a receiver, John Hightower, these guys are improving every single day.”

Follow the Heavy on Eagles Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!

Rookie QB Finally Looks Sort of Human

Hurts has been another camp darling during the first week of live practices, including a precious off-the-field moment involving a backpack and a lucky young fan. The rookie quarterback just seems to get it, with “it” being how to be both a professional and a Philadelphia athlete.

Hurts has also been impressive on the field, particularly in red-zone drills where he’s flashed fancy footwork and sharp passing skills. On Monday, he threw two dimes for touchdowns to receiver Deontay Burnett and then hit Josh Perkins for a score the following day after an electric four-play drive. Here is how Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia saw it go down:

In one red zone/goal line period, Hurts showed off his legs on four consecutive plays. The first was a sprint right and he was able to get into the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The second play he sprinted right, cut back inside to make a guy miss and scored a touchdown. The third play, he escaped right, rolled, and then sprinted into the end zone. And on the final play, he rolled right like he was going to run it in but then threw a perfect pass to Josh Perkins for a touchdown.

Hurts came back down to earth ever so slightly on Thursday when he chucked a bad interception to cornerback Elijah Riley, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Army. To the dual-threat quarterback’s credit, he owned the mistake and came back later to simulate a nice play-action toss to running back Michael Warren II. Later in practice, Hurts fired a 40-yard TD bomb to (you guessed it) Hightower.

“I think the way he’s picked up our offense and handled the situations that we’ve put him in in practice, he’s done a nice job there,” Pederson said of Hurts before practice. “He’s still got some learning to do, obviously, but nothing is too big for Jalen. You can see him with his legs, obviously the ability to escape the pocket, things he did in college, and throws a good ball and all those things.”

Follow the Heavy on Eagles Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!

READ NEXT: Browns Top Pick Jedrick Wills Reveals New Jersey Number