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June 08, 2023

Jalen Hurts Watch: How did the Eagles' QB look on the final day of OTAs?

The Eagles finished up their final day of OTAs. How did Jalen Hurts perform in practice? Here's a play-by-play breakdown:

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060123EaglesClaggett-Jalen-Hurts-5 Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Jalen Hurts

With practice moved inside to the bubble due to air quality issues throughout the entire area, the Eagles finished up OTAs on Thursday down at the NovaCare Complex. It's the last the media will see of Jalen Hurts and the Birds ahead of training camp. As I did all last summer, I will take you play-by-play into how Hurts performed throughout practice.

I was bullish on how Hurts looked during camp in 2022 despite his game not seemingly translating to 7-on-7 and practice situations due to his playmaking ability and rushing prowess, but with the way Hurts developed as a passer in the regular season and playoffs, he's transcended those limitations. 

On Thursday? Hurts was a little rough. I made the statement last summer that my suggestion to fans would be to not worry about poor OTA/camp performances, but latch onto optimism after good ones. That's when Hurts was unproven as a true franchise quarterback. After an MVP-caliber campaign and Super Bowl berth, that's exponentially more true. 

Anyway, here's a breakdown of QB1's play...

Set No. 1 in 7-on-7s from the 40 going in:

• Play 1: Hurts hits Dallas Goedert underneath on a quick throw from a three-step drop. 

• Play 2: With play-action to Boston Scott, Hurts double-clutches and launches a deep ball into double coverage to Olamide Zaccheaus. The ball had decent placement, but it gets broken up with safety Reed Blankenship and a corner right on Zaccheaus. It's a low-percentage play, but in a random 7-on-7 setting in June, that's exactly what Hurts should be doing, throwing the ball up for grabs and trying to make something happen. With the expectation that Zaccheaus will get a healthy amount of snaps as the Birds' slot receiver this season, they need to build their timing and rhythm together as much as possible.

• Play 3: It's another quick underneath throw, this time to Kenny Gainwell. To note, Gainwell and Scott got all the first-team reps in this set. From what I say, D'Andre Swift didn't get any first-team reps at all on Thursday, working in with the 2s when Marcus Mariota was at QB. Rashaad Penny looked to get at least one later in practice. 

• Play 4: With Gainwell going in motion through the backfield, Hurts targets Goedert on a slant, but linebacker Christian Elliss is there to break it up. While only two OTA practices were open to the public, Elliss shined in both. There's a bit of buzz among the media members (not necessarily the organization itself) that perhaps Elliss, a 24-year-old third-year linebacker, could nab one of the two starting linebacker roles. 

Set of reps No. 2 in 7-on-7s from the 40 going in: 

• Play 5: Hurts looks tight end Jack Stoll's way on a crosser, but the ball is picked off by, who else, Christian Ellis. It's only 7-on-7s with no offensive and defensive linemen, but I'll call this a pseudo pick-6. 

• Play 6: On a three-step drop, Hurts throws underneath to second-year tight end Grant Calcaterra. 

• Play 7: On a pass I believe was intended for undrafted free agent rookie wideout Tyrie Cleveland (the media doesn't get the greatest positioning in practice), rookie UDFA corner Mekhi Garner intercepts Hurts. This was another crossing route. There was safety help up top as Hurts went Cleveland's way toward the left sideline. 

• Play 8: Here's a play to hang your hats on for the day, Eagles fans. In a throw that was seamless all of the 2022 season, Hurts throws a great pass down the right sideline that hits DeVonta Smith in stride just steps before the end zone. I would bank on this happening a couple of times this fall. Touchdown. 

Set No. 3 in 7-on-7s from the 40 going in: 

• Play 9: With Quez Watkins working in the slot to the right, the receiver runs a fade down the sideline. He has tons of separation and is open, but couldn't come down with the pass as he contorted his body. It would likely be ruled a drop on Watkins' part, but it was a difficult catch on a throw from Hurts that was a bit too high. 

• Play 10: Hurts goes Smith's way again on a quick button route to the QB's left. 

• Play 11: Greg Ward! Remember him? Hurts targets Ward on a slant from the left slot, but Blankenship breaks it up. Blankenship looked active in Thursday's practice and will be competing for two of the starting safety gigs alongside vet Terrell Edmunds and third-round rookie Sydney Brown. I'd say Blankenship is close to a lock with how he performed as a UDFA rookie in 2022. 

• Play 12: This is the one play on Thursday where Christian Ellis didn't look like the second coming of Brian Urlacher. Smith gets matched up with Ellis pre-snap. A linebacker on a receiver of Smith's ability is just an automatic loss for the defense. Smith runs a slant route coming in motion, hits Ellis with some nifty footwork to create separation and Hurts gets the ball to him with some nice pop on it.

Hurts' stat line on the day: 6/12, 1 TD, 2 INTs

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