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Jalen Hurts keeping teammates on their toes before Eagles’ preseason opener

Jalen Hurts will start at quarterback in the Philadelphia Eagles’ NFL preseason opener on Thursday night, and the former Alabama signal-caller wants to make sure his teammates are ready to play.

Hurts has been popping quizzes on his offensive teammates in the hallways of the Eagles’ facility in advance of Philadelphia’s preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“You want to make sure everybody knows what they’re doing,” Hurts said on Tuesday. “It gives you reassurance when you’re on the field. You have certain routes that have certain rules in them, certain things that activate versus certain coverages, and want to make sure everybody’s doing that so there’s no hesitation on my behalf fearing that somebody may mess up or may not be aware of what they’re supposed to do.

“It takes communication, and I think that’s something, all of this, we just continue to grow with it, continue to learn each other, continue to learn this scheme.”

Hurts started the final four games of the 2020 season for the Eagles, and in the offseason, Philadelphia traded the quarterback that he replaced, Carson Wentz, to the Indianapolis Colts.

But new Eagles coach Nick Sirianni has declined to commit to Hurts as Philadelphia’s No. 1 quarterback for the 2021 season. In free agency this offseason, the Eagles signed 13-year veteran Joe Flacco, who has started 190 NFL games and won the MVP Award for Super Bowl XLVII.

On Tuesday, Sirianni said the Eagles’ quarterback rotation on Thursday night would follow their training-camp work schedule, with Hurts preceding 13-year veteran Joe Flacco and former Spain Park High School star Nick Mullens into the game.

“Same way it’s been playing out in practice,” Sirianni said. “Jalen will go with the starters, and then Joe will go in after him and Nick will go after him.”

Sirianni said he thought it will be easier to evaluate Hurts’ efficiency and effectiveness in the new offense in a game than it has been in tackle-prohibited practices because the quarterback will be free to use his elusiveness and ability to create if plays break down.

“I got onto Tyler, my assistant, is the one who’s blowing the whistle on sacks (at practice), so I said he was a little premature on a couple of those whistles the other day,” Sirianni said. “I really think this team knows how to practice. They know, ‘Hey, we’ve got to practice and stay away from the quarterback,’ so they’re doing a good job of that. And there’s things like, ‘Hey would he have gotten the sack there?’ I don’t know. The defense would say yes; the offense would say no. Now you’ll see that in the game because no two-hand touch on Thursday.”

The Steelers and the Eagles square off at 6:30 p.m. CDT Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Pittsburgh already has played one preseason game. The Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-3 in the Hall of Fame Game last week to kick off the NFL’s return to preseason play.

Former Alabama All-American Landon Dickerson will not get his first NFL action on Thursday night. The offensive lineman is on Philadelphia’s non-football-injury list and has not practiced with the team since training camp opened last month.

A second-round choice in the NFL Draft on April 30, Dickerson is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He sustained the knee injury on Dec. 19 in Alabama’s 52-46 victory over Florida in the SEC Championship Game.

“Not going to put a timetable on Landon,” Sirianni said on Tuesday, “but I know he’s working hard with the training staff getting himself ready to go. I see him every day just working full-speed in meetings and working full-speed in walkthroughs and watching reps as well, so I’m pleased with where he is mentally. That’s all we can really judge on him right now – and where he is on his rehab schedule.”

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.


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