The Philadelphia Eagles participated in their first practice of the 2023 season to much anticipation on a 90-degree day at the NovaCare Complex. Head coach Nick Sirianni started the day by stressing the goal was “to get better today.” And every day after today ahead of the Week 1 opener on September 10 in New England.
Sirianni’s comments were echoed by his players who shuffled up one by one to address the media. Jalen Hurts spoke of “raising the standard.” Brandon Graham talked about “blocking out the noise.” And Jason Kelce touched on his new-found celebrity while comparing the first day of camp to the first day of school. Everyone was in good spirits as the sun shone down to create a halo effect on the field. The Eagles are ready to create new memories, instead of basking in the glow of last year’s Super Bowl run.
“It’s a new journey,” Hurts told reporters. “Obviously we have a ton of familiarity, we’re familiar with one another, but we still have to understand that, when we come here on the first day we’re trying to set the foundation for what the identity of this team will be. That’s the main thing. Anything that was done in the past, it really doesn’t matter, it’s about what we do now. Raising that standard.”
Eagles Training Camp: What They Were Saying After Practice
The juiciest nugget of the day came when Jalen Hurts revealed that he turned down the opportunity to be featured on Netflix’s hit documentary “Quarterback.” Yes, that’s right. Hurts was approached by producers to be followed around prior to the 2022 season and prior to the 2023 season. He declined.
“I have not,” Hurts said when asked if he had watched the show. “I actually turned it down last year. I didn’t feel it was appropriate for the year so I turned down the opportunity to be on it.”
Then, Hurts left the door open for telling his story in another way when the time was right.
“The time will come,” Hurts said. “There’s a lot of the journey to be told and there’s a lot to unfold that will be told one day. That time will come.”
Jalen Hurts on New Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson: “The relationship that we have goes way back to when I was 4 years old. So that definitely helps. We’re going to continue to build our process of communication, of how we do that, and what that looks like. And continue to find out what the identity for us is. It’s different from coach to coach and I’m excited to navigate that. There’s no doubt he’ll do a great job.”
Jalen Hurts on What He Worked on This Offseason: “Being a triple threat out there, being someone knowledgeable about what is going on out there on the field, being able to make those throws, and being able to cause problems on the ground as well. Those are the three areas as a quarterback that I’m embracing and I want to continue to excel at that.”
Jalen Hurts on the Super Bowl Loss: “We’ve moved on. Everything is a learning experience, everything is truly a learning experience, but right now it’s about setting the identity for what this team will be. That’s my main thing. If you go write something after I said that, say that, say that.”
Fletcher Cox opens up on all things Eagles
Fletcher Cox admitted he had “other offers on the table” during his first foray into free agency. He spurned them to come back to the franchise that drafted him on a one-year deal worth $10 million.
“It was one of them things, making sure I’m making the right decision for myself, making sure this is where I wanted to be, and where I was wanted, and I think made the right decision to come back,” Cox said. “Hey, I’m here for 12 years, enjoy it … I didn’t want to go nowhere, you know, I thought about it. There were offers on the table, but I wanted to be here and that’s where I am now.”
Fletcher Cox on Eagles DT Jordan Davis: “You can see the jump from the first year to the second year and it’s really good to see. He’s healthy, you know, last year he started to ramp up and then he got hurt, and as a rookie, I think that kind of affected him. Now he’s healthy and he’s flying around, and you can feel his presence.”
Fletcher Cox on Eagles rookie Jalen Carter: “I’ve been in his position. I was drafted in the first round. But the biggest thing is to get in and learn. Learn the defense, learn how to practice as a pro — learning the new environment of being around a lot of media and let go of the distractions, but overall he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Eagles’ Star Jason Kelce just trying to be himself
Jason Kelce was asked to describe if this offseason felt any different coming off a Super Bowl loss versus five years when the Eagles raised the Lombardi Trophy. Not really, although Kelce made sure to stretch his answer out to include how he personally treats the summer months.
“Well, it’s a lot less fun,” Kelce said. “It’s a shortened offseason for one, you know you don’t have as much time so it feels like it flies by. But, outside of that, all the offseasons tend to be the same. For me, you get into your rhythm. You’re working out, for me, I stick around here [at the NovaCare Complex] and I work here for the majority of the offseason when I can. If I’m not on vacation somewhere or out for an event or something — I come in here, eat at the cafeteria, work out in the same weight room, so I don’t feel like it’s that different, it just goes by very quickly.”
Jason Kelce on Eagles’ Cam Jurgens: “I thought he did some really good things today, made a couple of really good blocks, you’re just trying to iron out everything together and be on the same page. And for him, he’s getting used to [playing] guard, something that he’s never played before, not even in college … He has a tremendous skill set and I think for his first day he looked great.”
Jason Kelce on His Celebrity Personality: “I’m trying not to be a personality. I’m trying just to be Jason Kelce. I don’t necessarily like that aspect of it to be perfectly honest with you. I enjoy just living my life, and doing what brings me joy and having fun. I enjoy the real aspects of all these things more so than the production of them. But, yeah, it’s been fun. I’ve interacted with my brother more than I ever have for throughout our tenure here in the NFL, and it’s been fun to rekindle that brotherhood, outside of losing to them in the Super Bowl. It was a pretty good year for us.”
Brandon Graham’s final rodeo with the Eagles?
Brandon Graham saw his playing time decrease by 284 snaps last season, yet he recorded a career-high 11 sacks in 17 games. He was fresh and healthy all year, something the 35-year-old pass rusher hopes to duplicate in 2023. Graham has fully embraced his new role as the wise old mentor.
“If I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t be out there, I’d be coaching or still trying to help them that way,” Graham said. “I’m happy that I’m still able to do some stuff and still be that good teammate to them boys because like I told ’em, I just want to see them win. I know Fletch and all them guys, we all know what it feels like to be up here, but I’m willing … let’s go, I want to take you to the next level.”
Brandon Graham on New Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai: “It’s his first year but I think we got a smart team, and these boys will pick it up good. And then eventually their personalities are going to show when they’re really confident on what it is that Coach Desai wants to do and where he wants us to be. And I think it’s just a daily walk.”
Brandon Graham on Eagles DE Derek Barnett: “He’s upbeat. Like I told him out there, hey man, just put that smile on, smile more, because at the end of the day you still here after so much you done been through. You could make it all go away by just what you do this year. And, luckily, we still got a chance so just enjoy and embrace that chance. Make sure you’re working every day and control what you can.”
Lane Johnson and the Eagles ‘core four’
Lane Johnson is another member of what people are calling the “Core Four”. He is joined by Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, and Fletcher Cox in that boat. The 33-year-old credited the City of Philadelphia for allowing him to thrive during 11 storied seasons in midnight green.
“Playing for this city, I think it demands for players to be the best versions of themselves,” Johnson said. “Yeah, it’s a big market, a lot of pressure, but at the same time, I feel like you get addicted to that. We don’t want to go anywhere else. It’s just something different about the city, you don’t get the same treatment in other cities as you do here when you go out about town, the same passion for football, so you can’t really find that anywhere else.”
Lane Johnson on How He’s Feeling After Surgery to Repair a Torn Adductor: “I feel awesome. I rehabbed pretty early, so I had the surgery in February on both groins and after the first initial weeks, I was up and working out and got cleared a few months later so really feeling good.”
Lane Johnson on Eagles rookie Nolan Smith: “He’s quick, man. What I like about Nolan in the little time that I’ve known him is that he works hard and he’s always positive. He kind of has that BG type attitude where he never has a bad day. He’ll learn a lot from Haason [Reddick], from [Josh] Sweat, and he’s been great so far.”
Lane Johnson on Navigating the Eagles’ Super Bowl Hangover: “You’re going to get everybody’s best shot. Going into the season you have high expectations, so you really got to quiet the noise, focus on doing your job, limit the distractions — and you really got to make that well known throughout the team because people are going to be coming for us but we’re gunning for them, too.”
New-look, same team
There seemed to be a bunch of pre-snap penalties, including a few from the first-team offense, during the first practice of the 2023 campaign. Don’t read too much into any of that. It’s the first day of school, as Jason Kelce reminded everyone, and the guys are still feeling each other out.
“It’s early on. You’re going to have mistakes,” Kelce said. “Our big emphasis right now is going in there and finding out what led to the mistakes, the pre-snap penalties, the missed assignments … all that stuff and iron it out just continue to get better each and every day.”
Jason Kelce on New Eagles Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson: “He was in the offensive line meeting room yesterday. To me, I feel good about the coordinator if they’re sticking around the offensive line a little bit because so often as a coordinator you get enveloped in the passing game and everything else going on that a lot of the time those guys don’t have a clue of what is going on in the offensive line room. And I think, to be a great offensive coordinator, to be a great play-caller, you need to have the full gambit of why we’re doing things.”
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire