Eagles training camp 2022: Eagles throw full support behind Jalen Hurts

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Eagles throw full support behind Hurts as training camp opens originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

This was more than a laundry mishap.

Nick Sirianni showed up to the NovaCare Complex for Day 1 of training camp wearing a green t-shirt featuring a giant image of Jalen Hurts’ face across his chest.

“This was, I think, the best one I had clean,” Sirianni joked. “I do my own laundry, so it was the best one I had clean and this is the one I picked.”

Yeah, it was more than that.

Sirianni wears these t-shirts as an easy way to connect with his players. It’s a trick he learned from his older brother Mike, the head coach at Washington & Jefferson College, who wears t-shirts from his players’ high schools. But Sirianni didn’t wear a Brandon Graham shirt on Wednesday. He didn’t wear one featuring DeVonta Smith or Fletcher Cox or any of the other 90 players on the Eagles roster.

On the first day of the new season, he wore one featuring Hurts and that wasn’t by accident or coincidence.

When Sirianni was asked if the Eagles feel a need to defend Hurts from outside criticism with shirts or hats (like the one A.J. Brown wore upon his arrival to camp that said “Hurts SZN”) Sirianni quickly shot back with a “No.”

This might not be about defending Hurts, but the message from the Eagles is clear amid plenty of national and local skepticism about their starting quarterback.

For the Eagles — at least the 2022 Eagles, a team with serious playoff aspirations — Jalen Hurts is their guy. And they believe in him.

You might remember last year Sirianni waited until the end of August to name Hurts the starter, despite how obvious it was. The Eagles waited that long in 2021 to promote competition with the hope that Hurts would take the reins of the position in his first year as a starter.

This year, there’s no question at all. Hurts is the Eagles’ quarterback. They’re shouting it from the rooftops. They’re wearing shirts with his face. They’re wearing hats with his name. They’re defending him from negative reports.

The most notable negative report in question came out during the long layoff between the end of OTAs and the start of training camp. It highlighted, via second-hand accounts, a supposed bad day of practice from Hurts in the spring. Brown, Hurts’ new teammate but long-time best friend, went on social media to respond, saying “practice stuff about Jalen is fake.”

Brown on Wednesday said he defended Hurts for two reasons:

1. Because Hurts is his quarterback

2. Because Hurts is his friend

“And the story wasn’t true,” Brown continued. “False narratives come out and this and that and guys gotta understand, it’s practice.”

Hurts said he actually called Brown on the morning of July 11 — just a routine phone call — and Brown filled him in on the report and Brown’s response.

“It must have been a slow day,” Hurts said.

For what it’s worth, Sirianni was very impressed with Hurts in OTAs. A lot has been made about the fact that Hurts is entering his second season in the same offense for the first time since high school and for good reason. Those differences showed up in the spring and Sirianni expects them to show up in the summer too.

“You can see he's a year further into it, decisions are being made quicker and faster each time he gets a rep at it,” Sirianni said. “Just like a lot of quarterbacks in this league, they get better with their decision making over time.

“You're definitely going to see that. You will still see his play making ability with his feet. I saw a more accurate passer in OTAs, and now he's got to go and continue to improve every single day.”

There’s no question Hurts needs to improve. While he had some nice moments in his first year as a starter, the 2021 season ended on a sour note when the Eagles were outclassed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild card round. Hurts did not have a good performance that day and admitted the loss and the feeling it left have been motivating factors.

Almost no one disagrees that Hurts needs to improve in his third NFL season. There are just disagreements about whether or not the improvement necessary for him to become a top-tier quarterback is likely or even possible.

What the Eagles do know about Hurts is that he’s going to put the effort in. On Wednesday, he arrived at the NovaCare Complex at 6:30 a.m. to get in some extra work with Brown ahead of their 10 a.m. practice. Whether you’re a season ticket holder, a casual fan or the head coach of the team, Hurts is an easy guy to root for.

No wonder Sirianni wore Hurts’ face across his chest Wednesday.

“That’s a nice shirt,” Hurts said. “Different (hair) cut, but it’s a nice shirt. And that’s who he is. He’s going to support all his players regardless of who you are.”

But especially if you’re the starting quarterback. There’s a reason that shirt wasn’t in the hamper.

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