The Eagles are banking their success, in large part, to how well Jalen Hurts and first round pick DeVonta Smith jell together.
That receiver-quarterback chemistry took a step forward this week when it was obvious that Hurts has starting to really grasp the new Nick Sirianni offense.
His play at practice has been noticibly better this week during the Birds joint practices with the New England Patriots at the NocaCare complex.
Then Tuesday, Smith was finally allowed to work in team drills.
“I'mexcited, I feel good, “ Smith said after practice Tuesday. “I come in everyday, step-by-staep...still taking it day-by-day. I'm getting better, more confortable with it.“
Smith was asked if he was at 100 percent or near it. “We're getting there.”
It is one thing to catch passes from a machine or a camp coach throwing the ball to you, it is a big difference when you have a defender breathing down your throat.
“It felt good just to get back out there, cutting and going against somebody,” Smith said. “Overall it was a happy feeling.”
Sirianni was asked how much of an emphasis has it been with Hurts getting rid of the ball quickly on time and how is he doing as far as he can see.
"You know, again I think I've mentioned this before that you don’t want to completely change something that is a strength of his, but you want to get it a little bit more balanced throwing the ball on time," Sirianni said. "It's definitely been an emphasis. Don't want to be extreme with it. Again, wise man avoids all extremes. You don’t want to be extreme and say, ‘Hey, you have to turn into this passer,’ but he's getting better at it. The things you focus on, you tend to think you get better at them and that's definitely an improvement he's made.”
Does he agree with most of the observers that Hurts is getting better?
“I thought he knew where to go with the football,” the first-year head coach said. “He made
good quick decisions. You always want a couple that will go a little quicker with the decision but yeah, I thought he had a good day throwing it around yesterday.”
Back to Smith...Sirianni was asked to describe that he has seen from his gifted receiver, knowing he has just been in individual drills so far. Would he like to see him play in the preseason?
“I always think it's necessary for guys to play in preseason and go through that,” Sirianni said. “With regards to Smith playing this week, we are still evaluating. We've got to see how today comes out. We have a preliminary plan of what we want Thursday to be like, but we got a lot of good work yesterday and we will have a lot of good work today so that’s going to be constantly changing with every player.”
Smith was asked about how he has been dealing with being a first round pick and all of sudden, on day four, he is on the sideling with a knee sprain.
“It's just a mental thing,” Smith said. “Knowing everything happens for a reason. I just attacked my rehab to get back out here. I trust the staff that we have, to put me in the best situation and they did that.”
If Smith plays Thursday against New England and plays well, we will know that Smith's trust was not in vain. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii