Five things we learned from the Eagles first OTA practice

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Rose Bowl Game Semifinal Game – Notre Dame v Alabama
ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 01: Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) warms up prior to the College Football Playoff Semifinal Rose Bowl Game between Notre Dame and Alabama on January 1, 2021 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)

The Eagles officially kicked off their OTA program today down at the NovaCare Complex. While there will be no 7-on-7 drills, there is still plenty to keep an eye out for. Here is everything you need to know after the opening practice.

Receivers being used in a creative way

Eagles fans watched in agony as a once electric offense slowly lost its spark over the past few years. From watching Alshon Jeffery on screens to players being used in very marginal ways, 2020 highlighted a real lack of creativity to get explosive playmakers in open space.

It’s very early days, but it at least looks like Nick Sirianni intends to shake things up a little. ESPN’s John McCullen highlighted this play where Jalen Reagor takes an end-around – something fans were pining to see in his rookie season given his breakaway speed.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We won’t get too many glimpses into what Sirianni has up his sleeve due to no 7-on-7 action and limited access, but this is encouraging.

New coaches, new methods

Whenever a new coaching staff is assembled, it’s often followed by an infusion of new coaching methods. We saw Chip Kelly’s focus on sport-science, some rigorous training camp schedules by Doug Pederson, and Nick Sirianni’s first touch was to bring a new contraption to the NovaCare Complex.

What is that contraption you ask? To me, it looks like a giant swing ball (which I think I would probably beat DeVonta Smith in a game of). The idea here is that you throw the ball and it very quickly rebounds back to you on a piece of elastic to practice catching a ball coming down in the same trajectory that a quarterback’s pass would be thrown at. I really like the premise here and if it improves the reaction times and hands-catching ability of the wideouts then I’m all for it.

Nick Sirianni is hands-on

The new Eagles Head Coach is very hands on with his players and even more so with the media. This is the second consecutive practice attended by reporters in which the head Coach has taken time to fist bump every member in attendance.

*sigh* what I would give for Sirianni to call me a stinkin’ state champion and dap me up. One day…

Anyway, more importantly, he’s also very hands on with his players. Brandon Lee Gowton noted how the first-time Head Coach was spotted taking players to the side to coach them up individually, while there are several other reporters who noted similar instances.

It’s great to see a Coach so involved in individual drills as opposed to just watching from the sideline. It’s clear how much he loves ball and helping players develop.

Trending in the right direction

I couldn’t resist.

Somehow, some way, Brandon Brooks has defied all expectations. He was spotted warming up with the team today. Brooks tore his Achilles just before Training Camp last year, having previously expedited his recovery from another instance of the same injury.

Having now been through the process of rehabbing a torn Achilles once before, don’t be shocked to see Brooks back in action sooner than many would typically expect.

Bonus takeaway

My love for John Hightower coming out of last years’ draft was immeasurable. Unfortunately, it has now become synonymous with my personal brand and I probably received just as many boos for every drop made last year as he did!

With that said, it brought me a lot of joy seeing him haul i a catch so confidently away from his body.

It’s early days yet, but here’s to hoping the Boise State product can really begin to build on some of the progress made as a rookie and put it all together in year two in a new-look Eagles offense.

Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire