PHILADELPHIA – Nick Sirianni has been the Eagles’ head coach since Jan. 24. He’s had some time to get used to it.
Friday was different, though.
Friday was the first time he would take the field with actual players to coach, with 26 players on hand for a three-day rookie camp. It was also the first time the media had laid eyes on him, other than a handful of virtual looks.
“When I was an offensive coordinator, I was with the offense,” said Sirianni. “Now I was just with the entire team. It was just football practice, business as usual. Sure, it was exciting for my first football practice as a head coach.
“I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited and to FaceTime my wife and my kids this morning and say, ‘Hey, it's my first day of football practice here as the head coach.’ I was excited, of course.”
One of the first things Sirianni did was walk over to the sideline where dozens of reporters were chronicling the historic taking-of-the-field moment and start fist-bumping each individual reporter, telling them it was good to meet them.
Check back in a few months and we’ll see how he feels, but for now, Friday was a big moment for the head coach, who will turn 40 on June 15.
There will be other milestones along the way for Sirianni.
His first game as a head coach will be a big one, and that will come on Sept. 12 with the season opener in Atlanta.
The first day of practice with the fill team in attendance will be another one. That day could be either in training camp later in July or as early as June when the team is scheduled to conduct a mandatory minicamp.
Whether that happens or not will depend on if the players’ union softens its stance about spring workouts. Right now, they are against them.
“Any day we miss is obviously something that you don't want to happen as a coach or as a player that's developing,” said Sirianni when asked about the prospect of this weekend perhaps being the final time he will be with any of his players until summer’s training camp.
“But it's really just count the days that we have, make the days that we have really count, and get everything we can. When they're here, we're going to work our tails off and they're going to work their butts off to get everything we can get out of those players so they can get better because that's all it's about.”
The milestone moments, while exciting for Sirianni, are something that he has been groomed for.
“I've been going to football practices since I've been four years old with my dad being a football coach, so this has been a thing I've been doing my entire life,” he said. “So football practice to me, it's the same over and over and over again, the things that I've been taught that are very important in football. It's the same thing over and over again. It's just I have different responsibilities.
“When I was four, me and my brothers had those pads on the side, those dummies, and we were hitting each other with them with the ball and practicing good ball security. Just a little different now, right? So I've just been doing this my whole life.”
Friday was also a big moment for his coaching staff, only two of whom are holdovers from the previous regime – OL coach Jeff Stoutland and WR coach Aaron Moorehead.
Moorehead was barking orders to receivers during individual drills, a group that included DeVonta Smith, Trevon Grimes, Khalil Tate, and Jhamon Ausbon.
Stoutland was on a far field working with Landon Dickerson, who was doing walkthroughs only while he continues to rehab the ACL he tore with Alabama in December, Kayode Awosika, Caleb Benenoch, Harry Crider, and Casey Tucker.
“The guys that are new to me, I think they wanted to come out and impress me and show me that I made the right decision of hiring them,” said Sirianni. “So that was pretty cool to see them coaching. I know they have a ton of energy. You can't fake what they have every single day because they bring it every single day.
“But the goal for them again was keeping it simple for the players, and they've heard me talk about fundamentals and technique a million times. It's one of those things where I'm not going to stop, either. I'm going to be a relentless pit bull about fundamentals and technique.”
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.