PHILADELPHIA – Jalen Hurts was at the NovaCare Complex on Friday. He never made it to the practice fields out back, though.
The quarterback is not allowed to compete in rookie camp, even though he was robbed of that experience last year when he was actually a rookie after it was canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
That did not stop him from showing up and, presumably, flexing his leadership muscle by being around teammates he hopes will help him catch the league by storm and win some games with him in a year where expectations are not very high.
Miles Sanders was also in the facility, but the fervor surrounding the third-year running back is nowhere near what swirls around the Eagles quarterback.
Head coach Nick Sirianni was asked four questions in particular about Hurts and one about the QB position in general during his post-practice videoconference on Friday.
“You guys won't leave this one alone, will you?” he finally joked on the final stab by a reporter to bring Hurts into the conversation.
Sirianni has not officially proclaimed Hurts his starter in 2021, preferring to double-down on his competition mantra.
“This is all part of the strategy of we want everyone to feel that they're competing for their jobs,” he said. “I'm competing for my job. Shane [Steichen] is competing for his job. [Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan] Gannon is competing for his job.
"Like every single day, there are so many people that want to do what we do in the NFL, right? So we've got to compete - we've got to fight - everybody on this team has got to fight every single day to get better and to compete, and competition is never a bad thing.”
It makes sense, just as it did when he said the same thing months ago, though a big deal was made about it.
Make no mistake, though, it’s a foregone conclusion Hurts will start.
Unless of course, the various rumors and innuendos about the Eagles possibly trading for someone like Deshaun Watson at some point this summer.
Sirianni would not nibble on the “other” QB bait.
“You know what, we don't comment on anybody on other rosters, so you know, there hasn't been any talk about that,” he said. “We just don't comment on anybody from other rosters. Really no reason to go there with anything.”
So, until such time a trade is made – if a trade is made prior to the opener in Atlanta on Sept. 12 – the job belongs to Hurts despite the signing of Joe Flacco in free agency and Jamie Newman as an undrafted free agent.
“Jalen has done a heck of a job learning the offense,” Sirianni said. “I'll say that. He's impressive in there. He's really got good control of it. When we're in these virtual meetings during virtual walk-throughs, again, I can't say enough about the offensive staff when I'm sitting in there and watching them go through a virtual walk-through.
“I think that's pretty awesome. And Jalen has just done a good job of taking the plays that have been taught to him, and he can really rattle off exactly what he's supposed to do on every single play. It'll be exciting to get on the field with him and see him do it physically.”
The Eagles’ first set of 10 OTAs is scheduled for May 25. They are voluntary, but you know Hurts will be there if he is able.
The players’ union has other ideas at the moment, believing that spring workouts are necessary, and players may toe the line and stay away, at least until possibly the mandatory camp on June 8.
Sirianni also steered clear of the notion that Hurts will be given one season to prove he can be the long-term answer at the position.
“I'm not even to that point right now of what 2022 is going to look like, to be honest with you,” he said. “It's about getting better. It's such a long process, and I love the process about it. It's just every single day you've got a chance to get better, every single day, over and over and over again.
“Yes, that applies for Jalen to get better, and that applies for everybody on our team, to get a little bit better every single day. And that's all we're concerned about right now is how we're going to be better tomorrow than we were today.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.