PHILADELPHIA - Jalen Hurts had a bit of a bounce-back performance at the Eagles' first open practice of the summer in front of 25,896 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
There were two very impressive throws for the second-year quarterback, including the play of the night, around a 50-yard touchdown to Quez Watkins, although it was the back end of the connection who was the more important part of the play.
While scrambling left Hurts lofted a 50/50 ball to the receiver and Watkins high-pointed the football over safety Anthony Harris.
As far as the best pure throw by Hurts, that was a nice, outside-shoulder fade down the right sideline to Travis Fulgham, who gained about 30 yards with K'Von Wallace bearing down on Fulgham during a hurry-up drill.
The session, which was Nick Sirianni's longest of training camp lasting nearly two hours, was hardly perfect for Hurts, who still struggled with decision-making at times whether that comes from holding onto the football too long, throwing into double coverage, or flushing too quickly instead of climbing the pocket.
That said, competency was needed after Saturday's session, and Hurts was able to provide it.
MORE FROM THE LINC: Eagles Hold First Open Practice at Lincoln Financial Field Since 2019
Before practice, Sirianni expressed what he would like to see from Hurts moving forward.
"Just continuing to grow in the offense and being able to throw on rhythm and with some consistency with his rhythm," Sirianni said. "But also, I also understand that some part of his game is to be able to move around and make plays. But, again, a wise man avoids all extremes. It can't be all rhythm, and it can't be all scramble. So, it's like, ‘Hey, what's the happy medium there?’
"It's just, again– because right now he's back and forth, he's getting some good throws on rhythm, but just want to make those numbers grow a little bit because we know how valuable of a tool his legs are."
Jake Elliott was perfect in his lone kicking session, making all six of his field-goal attempts.
The veteran kicker was true from 32, 40, 44, 28, 46, and had a long of 53. Earlier in camp, Elliott had a two-miss day where he misfired under 49 on both, distances that special teams coordinator Michael Clay said is where you need to make your money so the more consistent performance was certainly a relief for the Eagles.
The Eagles desperately need receivers to step up while DeVonta Smith rehabs from his sprained MCL and Watkins has been the most consistent option to date, proving to be a playmaking threat both down the field and as a manufactured touch player.
Along with his big 50/50 ball from Hurts tonight, Watkins also beat Craig James on a go route during individual work and Nick Mullens was able to deliver the football.
It's doubtful that Watkins will be able to crack the top trio of Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Fulgham but he has clearly distanced himself from the second tier of Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and John Hightower, although Ward offers more consistency and JJAW a bigger body for flex red-zone work.
Watkins is doing his job when it comes to making the decisions tough for the coaching and personnel staff, however.
The Eagles might have to find a way to keep Tyree Jackson on the 53-man roster. The former University of Buffalo quarterback turned tight end is a physical and athletic specimen who may be very raw at the position but the upside is obvious.
A potential trade involving Zach Ertz could still open up room for Jackson but Ertz is growing on this coaching staff and if the veteran is still around for Week 1 in Atlanta, the Eagles should keep Jackson over the steady Richard Rodgers.
Consider it similar to stashing Jordan Mailata on the back end of the 53 in his early years even though the team understood the big man would not be able to help early on. Fast forward, and Mailata is making a strong push for the starting left tackle job.
Risking getting Jackon through waivers is just not worth it and the belief that roster spots are too important to use on developmental prospects with big upsides fails to take into account that game-day rosters only reach 47 anyway.
LEFT TACKLE WATCH
Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett have often dominated in camp, especially in one-one-ones, particularly against Andre Dillard but also against Mailata on occasion.
Sunday was the first day that both Dillard and Mailata were able to hold both defensive ends to at least stalemates in each on-an-island rep.
That's a bigger deal for Dillard, who has struggled more but an impressive showing for each.
Through 10 practices, each has gotten first-team work on five occasions and the rotation looks like it will continue into the preseason. If form holds, Dillard would be with the first team Tuesday, and Mailata would get the start in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh.
PRACTICE GAME BALL
Watkins has to win it as his playmaking ability stopped the bleeding on offense for the time being.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.