Jalen Hurts talks Carson Wentz, working with DeSean Jackson

Eliot Shorr-Parks
July 27, 2020 - 9:00 am

Earlier this offseason, Eagles rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts got a text from one of his new teammates. 

It was DeSean Jackson. The veteran receiver wanted to work out with the rookie quarterback. 

“He reached out to me, texted me and in a matter of seconds I offered ‘I’d come out there and get some work in with you’,” Hurts said. “Ending up getting some work in and it was great to meet him.”

Hurts traveled to Florida to meet Jackson, where they spent a few days throwing, getting timing down and getting to know each other. In addition to getting in physical reps on the field, Jackson helped Hurts with the mental side as well, and the rookie soaked in any tips he could as he begins his adjustment from college to the NFL. 

“He is a very experienced player. He can roll. It was good to be around that,” Hurts said. “Be around that type of wisdom in terms of the game, see what he sees and just talk ball. Just learn each other.”

It isn’t often that a backup quarterback gets invited by the team’s No. 1 receiver to work out. 

Then again, Hurts is no ordinary backup. 

A former National Champion that lead two different teams to the college football playoffs, Hurts has been in the spotlight for the majority of his football life. It started during his days as a highly recruited high-school quarterback in Texas, continued during his time at Alabama and Hurts remained one of the most-talked about quarterbacks in the nation during his time at Oklahoma. 

As a result very few, if any, football fans didn’t know who Hurts was prior to the 2020 NFL Draft. 

But while Hurts is one of the more well-known football players in the country, and one of the most talked-about Eagles rookies in recent years, Philadelphia fans have not really gotten a chance to get to know Hurts on-or-off the field yet. 

That starts to change this week. 

Off the field, Eagles fans should know Hurts thinks Kobe Bryant is the second-best basketball player of all time, lists Jordan 11s as his favorite shoes, and will watch anything with Denzel Washington. Hurts names Franky Beverly and Maze as his favorite musicians, and says his preferred pre-game song is “Your Smile” by Angela Winbush. His loves the movie Friday Night Lights so much that he owns a Boobie Miles jersey. 

On the field, months later, nothing is as shocking as the fact that Hurts is even on the Eagles. 

Not many, if any, NFL Draft experts expected the Eagles to use their second-round pick on the Heisman Trophy finalist, considering the team was just one year removed from handing Carson Wentz a four-year, $128 million extension. 

The decision was so unprecedented and such a shock that in any other year, Hurts being on the roster would be the top story heading into training camp. In an offseason dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Hurts’ surprise arrival has flown mostly under the radar since the initial shock. 

Out of the spotlight, the rookie said he has really enjoyed getting to know Wentz this offseason through the virtual meetings. 

“It has been cool. He is a great quarterback, I have a lot of respect for him,” Hurts said. “He has done some great things and it is great for me to be able to learn from him as well as everyone else in the room. Great opportunity.”

Being restricted to the virtual classroom has obvious downsides, but one benefit is Hurts has really been able to dive into the playbook. A knock on Hurts coming out of college was that he needed work in reading defenses and making his progressions as a passer. All of the time in the classroom has helped Hurts to get a head start on one of the more underrated hurdles he will face this season — calling the plays in the huddle. 

“The biggest thing to doing that is just repping it,” Hurts said of learning he plays. “Obviously the reps are different, cause you are not in the huddle, but I’m practicing it, saying it, spitting it out. Repping it that way goes a long way."

His head coach has noticed the improvements Hurts has made from when he first started the virtual offseason to now. 

“His growth from a mental standpoint from the beginning of the offseason to now has been very good. His ability to recall plays and recite plays…one thing (quarterbacks coach) Press Taylor has done is put him into a huddle situation where he is calling plays and being able to spit that back at him. He has done that at a really good, high level,” Pederson said earlier this offseason. “Now it is just a matter of once we get him on the grass, he has to do it for real and go from there. But I have been really impressed with his progress this spring.”

After a wild offseason, Hurts will finally get a chance to soon be on grass and continue to progress as training camp set to begin. 

He arrived in Philadelphia last week, and after passing through the COVID-19 testing protocols, Hurts was finally able to get into the NovaCare Complex for the first time this past weekend. He has met his fellow rookies, he signed his contract, he got his new jersey and he had his rookie photos taken with Jalen Reagor. 

Hurts is also looking forward to (virtually) meeting some of his new Eagles fans, as he will be the spokesperson for the “The Pepsi Has Landed” sweepstakes this season. The sweepstakes will give Eagles fans the opportunity to win season tickets, signed Eagles jerseys, virtual meet-and-greets with Eagles players and more.

“Get the fans engaged, celebrate the fans, celebrate their passion,” Hurts said. “So I am looking forward to that in the near future.”

Next up for Hurts is getting to meet the rest of his new teammates in person, which should happen later this week as the first phase of training camp — which is mostly lifting and conditioning — gets under way. 

“Hard working, about their business, grind-it-out kind of organization,” Hurts said of his initial impressions of everyone in the Eagles organization. “They take what they do seriously and I am just ready to get to work with them.”

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!