Philadelphia Eagles training camp 2022 preview: Can Jalen Hurts take the next step?

PHILADELPHIA– The Philadelphia Eagles open 2022 NFL training camp Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex. Here’s a closer look at some storylines:

Biggest question: How much better can quarterback Jalen Hurts get?

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

Hurts is entering his second year as Philly’s full-time starter and has everything he needs to be successful: a strong offensive line, familiarity with coach Nick Sirianni’s system, and a strong skill group led by receiver AJ Brown, who is led by was taken over by the Tennessee Titans on the first night of the 2022 NFL Draft for first- and third-round picks.

Hurts, 23, led the Eagles to the playoffs in 2021 with a 9-8 record and ranked first among quarterbacks in yards rushing (784) and rushing touchdowns (10) but ranked 26th in completion rate ( 61.3%). He spent part of the offseason with quarterback coaches in Southern California working on his mechanics, focusing on his footwork and release. According to Sirianni, it paid off this spring.

“I’m noticing a big difference,” he told ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio. “What I see is a crisper ball. The accuracy I’m very happy with. You can just see him making progress with his accuracy every day because of the fundamentals he has with his feet and torso.”

If Hurts can make a leap forward as a passer, the Eagles might just be legitimate NFC contenders.

Who is the player who needs to prove himself the most? Recipient Jalen Reagor. His first two years in the league did not go as well as he had hoped, as Reagor had 64 catches for 695 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games. Expectations are always high for first-round picks and were thrown off balance when the Eagles picked him ahead of receiver Justin Jefferson, who picked off immediately for the Minnesota Vikings and is on track to becoming a star in the league.

Reagor is entering his third season and has to fight for a role on the team. Brown and DeVonta Smith are wide receivers 1 and 1A, followed by Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal, a Sirianni favorite. Still only 23 years old, Reagor has a lot of skill. But the clock is ticking for him to put it all together in an Eagles uniform.

What is the fiercest fantasy-related fight? Back race.

Miles Sanders is the starter. He is in a year under contract and will be highly motivated to prove he is one of the better defenders in the league. Injuries have kept him from achieving that status for the first three seasons. Ankle and hand injuries kept him out of five games last season.

That opened the door for Kenneth Gainwell, who had an impressive rookie year with 544 yards from scrimmage and six touchdowns (compared to 912 yards from scrimmage and zero TDs for Sanders). Ideally for the Eagles, Sanders will take on the leadback role, with Gainwell (5-foot-9, 200 pounds) complementing him as a pace-changer and pass-catching threat. But Gainwell showed last season he can make it as a runner, too, and will take more snaps along with Boston Scott when Sanders fails to stay healthy or shows inconsistency in his game.

Stock prediction: Undrafted receiver Britain Covey makes the team.

The 25-year-old rookie from Utah caused quite a stir this spring. At 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, he doesn’t exactly have a height advantage, but that didn’t stop him from wreaking havoc for the Utes last year, including on special teams, where he returned two punts and a kickoff for touchdowns.

Competition for roster spots should be quite fierce at the receivers, with Reagor, Greg Ward and John Hightower vying for the roster alongside Brown, Smith, Pascal and Watkins. But coaches like what they’ve seen from Covey so far, and a strong summer could convince them to keep him.

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Alley Einstein

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