July 29, 2022   4 MINUTE READ

Early Birds

Hurts, Birds WRs Already Connecting At Training Camp

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On Tuesday morning, almost four hours before the commencement of the Eagles’ first official training camp practice of the 2022 season, quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver A.J. Brown arrived at the NovaCare Complex

For Hurts, a second-year starter, the early arrival allowed him to finally bury January’s playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and focus on the present, as well as establish a routine with Brown, the team’s prized offseason addition and presumed primary pass target.

“I think that’s just standard for the two of us,” Hurts said. “You know, I know Smitty’s (DeVonta Smith) up here every morning, he’ll join us. It’s just standard, you know what I mean?

“We just put the work in, and the work comes first. The work comes first every day. We take it day by day, trying to get prepared for the day so we can attack every day.

“So, just growing with time, getting everything together so we can all be on the same page. You know, we’ve put so much work in in the offseason with A.J., Dallas, Smitty – everybody putting a thousand reps in so we can come out here and play ball at a high level and continue what we’ve built.”

AJ. Brown, DeVonta Smith

A.J. Brown, left, and Devonta Smith are expected to lead the Eagles’ new-look pass game

The Eagles signed Brown to a four-year, $100 million contract after giving up a first-round pick to the Titans to lure him, hoping the Hurts-Brown connection will prove to be fruitful for years to come.

The 25-year-old brings with him a resume that includes 185 receptions for 2,995 yards and 24 touchdowns, and he provides sorely needed physicality and open-field explosiveness to what was an otherwise underwhelming Eagles receiving corps.

The 6-foot-1, 226-pound wideout has also quickly endeared himself to teammates and fans with his work ethic, accountability, and gratitude for both the warm reception and fresh start.

Brown’s game-breaking – yet selfless – acumen seems ideally suited for Philadelphia, and Brown and Hurts are working together behind the scenes to ensure an early return on the Eagles’ hefty investment.

“He’s just like me,” Brown said. “Preparing, studying. This morning we got up here real early, before anyone else, preparing. That’s just who he is. Me and Jalen went over the whole script a couple times, just making sure we’re on the same page. That’s how he prepares. He’s a professional.”

Having accumulated 3,144 yards, 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions (61.3 completion percentage) as a passer and 784 yards and 10 touchdowns as a runner in his first season as a starter, Hurts now finds himself in a make-or-break season.

The polarizing signal-caller often appeared skittish in the pocket at times, fleeing prematurely at the illusion of pressure, hastily sifting through his progressions, and leaving his share of plays on the field at an alarming rate, but there were also instances throughout the second half of the season that served as a reminder of his upside and potential at just 23.

With the addition of Brown, the Eagles doubled down in their support of Hurts, arming him with a budding superstar on the perimeter to complement rapidly Smith, last year’s 10th overall pick who set a team rookie record for receiving yards.

Still to be determined is if Hurts will make the best use of his upgraded passing weapons and showcase more evolution as a passer.

Every summer, expectations rise and the pressure to deliver mounts, but Hurts has never been one to flinch under adverse conditions.

Whether it’s working with renowned quarterback guru Tom House in Southern California to refine his mechanics, or forging a rapport with his pass targets, Hurts’ actions are the reflection of a natural leader, conscious of his shortcomings and committed to becoming the best version of himself.

Still, time will be the ultimate indicator of whether Hurts’ best version of himself is good enough.

– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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