Eagles Camp Takeaways: Jalen Hurts Tracker, Backfield Surprise

Jason Huntley, Jalen Hurts

Getty Jason Huntley gets congratulated by Jalen Hurts after making a play in Week 17 against Washington.

The Philadelphia Eagles are dealing with a dizzying number of injuries through nine practices. There were 12 players missing at camp on Tuesday, highlighted by Jason Kelce (elbow), Boston Scott (concussion), and Kenny Gainwell (hip). Not ideal.

The good news? None of the injuries appear to be too serious. And, for those searching for the silver lining, those guys being out provides an opportunity to get extended looks at some possible bubble bursters. For example, third year running back Jason Huntley.

Huntley’s speed cannot be questioned. He looks like he can break one every time he touches the ball and bolted into the second level of the defense on multiple plays at Tuesday’s practice. Huntley also saw time on special teams as the main kick returner.

His best rep came on a toss play out of the backfield, which probably would have resulted in an even bigger gain if he had cut it back inside. Huntley is fast – 4.37 in the 40 fast – and got snaps with the first-team offense due to Scott and Gainwell being out. (Yes, Miles Sanders also ran with the ones and broke a big gainer of his own).

Here are some random observations from a scorching hot day – the Eagles moved practice up an hour, from 10 a.m. to 9 a.m., due to an extreme heat advisory. They went for 1 hour, 35 minutes.

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Gardner Minshew Rusty, Josiah Scott Flashes

Backup quarterback Gardner Minshew arrived at camp in a converted prison bus, but he’s been the one locked up so far. The 26-year-old was throwing ducks in team drills, and a touch off in individual work. He tossed back-to-back interceptions on Tuesday as third-stringer Reid Sinnett outplayed him.

Minshew’s first pick came courtesy of linebacker Davion Taylor, after a nifty tipped ball from safety K’Von Wallace. It was a superb defensive play by Wallace. Josiah Scott sniped the second one off a pass intended for Quez Watkins. Scott has flashed in recent days while splitting time at safety and cornerback. He’s looking like the second-team nickel.

“Josiah’s been doing a really good job at nickel and safety,” starting nickel Avonte Maddox said. “Showing that he can do both. And just coming from my experience from playing both, it’s showing everyone that you can play multiple positions and be able to compete at a high level as well.”


Wallace’s Big Day, Left Tackles Return

K’Von Wallace was a disruptive force on the second-team defense. In addition to the interception, the third-year safety made a couple of big hits on the day. He delivered the boom on Jason Huntley – well, as much boom as you can possibly deliver in shorts and shells, with no tackling to the ground – on one highlight-reel play.

Then, Wallace stopped Jalen Reagor dead in his tracks before he could cut up the field. This is a make-or-break camp for Wallace. His contributions on special teams, combined with pedestrian play from Jaquiski Tartt, should at least earn him a roster spot.

Speaking of hard hits, starting left tackle Jordan Mailata and backup left tackle Andre Dillard returned to practice. They were limited participants, but good to see them back on the field. The two blindside protectors had been in the concussion protocol since suffering head injuries last week. Third-team tackle Le’Raven Clark remained out.


A.J. Brown Tracker: Next Terrell Owens?

It’s really starting to feel like the Eagles really have something special in A.J. Brown, arguably their best receiver since Terrell Owens. That’s high praise, of course. Owens is a Hall of Famer; Brown is entering Year 4. However, the connection between Brown and Jalen Hurts keeps growing by leaps and bounds. He’s far and away the most targeted receiver at camp while lining up inside and outside.

“We’re still building,” Brown said. “We’re definitely headed in the right direction. I have a lot of trust in him. He has a lot of trust in me.”

Brown isn’t perfect, though. He missed two plays on Tuesday: one ball bounced off his hands and, luckily, into the arms of Dallas Goedert. Crisis averted. The other one was initially a catch before James Bradberry climbed the ladder and poked it out. It went incomplete, out of bounds. Great play from Bradberry.


Jalen Hurts Keeps Stacking Days

Can’t say it was a noteworthy day for starter Jalen Hurts. It wasn’t his fault as the Eagles were working on situational stuff, including a few plays that Nick Sirianni walked back for down and distance. “Third-and-2,” Sirianni shouted after the Brown-Goedert mishap (see above).

Hurts was playing the role of game manager more than anything else and did what he was asked to do. He threw no interceptions. On the flip side, he threw no touchdowns.

“I think that’s my reality. I’m a quarterback, I can run it and I can throw it, too,” Hurts said. “Biggest thing is just being consistent and being at a high level at both of those, in the rushing game and in the passing game.”

Hurts did break off one long run after scanning the field and seeing no one open. Maybe he pulled it down a tad too early. Debatable. He also got blindsided by a fast-charging Brandon Graham toward the end of team drills. The Pro Bowl pass rusher knocked the ball loose to record a rare strip-sack. Graham has been bringing it this summer.

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