Doug Pederson has been adamant in recent days about not switching out his quarterback. Carson Wentz remains the starter in Philly, but backup Jalen Hurts might see an increased workload in Week 12 against Seattle. The dual-threat rookie has reportedly been getting valuable first-team reps this week at practice with an assumed bigger role on the horizon.
According to ESPN’s Tim McManus, there has been a “noticeable increase in Hurts’ snaps with the first team” and the gadget-play specialist might be thrust into the spotlight on Monday night. To be clear, Wentz is still the undisputed starter under center. Hurts, who has seen 31 offensive snaps in nine games, provided a spark in Week 6 during the team’s almost-comeback win over Baltimore and the calls for more snaps have been growing louder and louder. It appears the organization has been listening.
Pederson didn’t flat-out deny that Hurts had received more first-team reps when he was asked about it on Saturday. The head coach, with his trademark vagueness, called it a normal week for Hurts.
“As far as the plays and the snaps, I mean, he hasn’t gotten any more than he would get throughout the course of the week normally since we’ve been playing him,” Pederson told reporters. “I’m not going to reveal any game plan plans with him at this time.”
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Hurts Improving Each Week, Learning Curve
Pederson was a bit more forthcoming in answering a follow-up question concerning Hurts’ overall development. He has been the No. 2 quarterback since Week 2 when he replaced Nate Sudfeld.
While the Eagles have used him solely as a decoy and gadget-play specialist, Hurts has made no secret of his desire to line up as a traditional signal-caller. Pederson didn’t reveal if that would happen in Philly, but the head coach clearly likes what he’s seen so far from the multi-talented kid from Texas.
“I like where he’s at. I think for a young rookie quarterback he’s right where he needs to be,” Pederson told reporters. “He keeps improving each week with the terminology and the mental side of learning the game, right? Playing obviously helps it [the learning curve].”
Hurts has often gotten looks in formations where Wentz remains on the field, sometimes split out as a wide receiver. The threat of Hurts taking off and running has kept defenses honest in those situations. However, it’s been a double-edged sword since Wentz poses no real threat to actually catch the ball. Hurts has 12 rushes for 56 yards (4.7 yards-per-carry).
“That’s one of the things as we went along this year, having the two quarterbacks on the field,” Pederson said. “It really has helped some of our production offensively, yards per carry, whatever it might be. But, yeah, it’s definitely given him some game experience. It’s only been like a play here, a play there. Just being out there can only help him moving forward.”
Good Week of Practice for Wentz
The report of Hurts getting more first-team reps comes on the heels of Wentz enjoying one of his best weeks. The 27-year-old face of the franchise stayed after practice to work out with his young receivers, according to Pederson, and flashed great leadership. The head coach walked away impressed with Wentz’s work ethic.
“I’ve seen great leadership, great poise,” Pederson said. “Obviously, he works extremely hard, working with the young guys after practice, things that he’s done all season. He’s had a really good week of practice.”
Wentz has endured a brutal 2020 campaign where he ranks first in interceptions (14), fumbles (10) and sacks (40) while posting career-lows in completion percentage (58.4) and yards per attempt (6.2).
“He knows, just like I know, that things aren’t going the way we had hoped for,” Pederson said. “He and I are in this together. We’re going to get this thing turned around and fixed. Got a lot of confidence in him that he’ll get it done. Got confidence in myself that I can get it done.”
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