Q. You signed two linebackers to one-year contracts. What was the reasoning why you went out and did that? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: We are low, a little bit low, at that position as far as the amount of guys. We really do feel good about the room. We just wanted to bring in some extra competition to let things shake out and see. At the end of the day the best guys will play.
But I think [LB] Nakobe [Dean] has done a great job. Obviously, he’s working through this ankle injury, but he’s done a great job and we have a lot of confidence in him.
[LB] Nick Morrow has looked good. So has [LB] Christian [Elliss] and [LB] Shaun [Bradley]. We feel like [LB] Ben [VanSumeren] is a good developmental prospect.
But we just wanted to add competition to the room, and that’s one of our core values, is competition. So, when you bring in good players, like these two guys have been in this league, that’s only going to raise the level of everybody else in the room and on the defense.
Q. Are these signings in any way a reflection of the team’s thoughts on LB Nakobe Dean? Or is he still factored into this defensively? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Shoot, no. I mean, again, like I said, I feel really good about the room. Just wanted to get some competition in there. I feel really good about Nakobe. When he was out there, he was doing a nice job running the defense, being in position to make plays. Had a really big splash play, knocking that ball out, and has done really good as far as just in coverage and just being around the football and knowing what to do. So really pleased with where Nakobe is right now.
Q. Both of these guys would’ve been in your division — (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: I remember both of them were really good players that we had to be alert for where they were at all times. Houston was really good when [LB] Zach [Cunningham] was there. That was a really good football team, and he was seeing No. 41 out there and they had another linebacker who was huge, the kid from Mississippi State.
So those two guys, you felt them. They were good on the D-line with [DE J.J.] Watt, and then those two guys ran around and made plays and we had to be alert to where they were.
And then [LB] Myles [Jack] was on a defense that, shoot, we lost 6 to nothing up there. Not my finest moment as an offensive coordinator with [former Indianapolis Colts QB] Andrew Luck being shut out 6 to nothing at Jacksonville.
But, always thought he was really — was able to run around, make plays, really good athlete. They had a lot of good athletes there and he was one the better ones.
Q. Both these guys have played a ton of football. How big is bringing them in? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: [LB] Nick [Morrow] has some experience, but other than that we’re down some experience there. That’s a good thing to have.
Again, like I said, no indication on the room itself. Pleased with the room. We were low at numbers there and we wanted to bring in some competition to further drive the level up. That’s all that competition does. That’s why it’s one of our core values.
And like you said, they have experience and that’s a good thing.
Q. I was going to say linebacker is one of the easier positions to get guys acclimated and the confidence level, get up to speed. (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Linebacker is a position that they have to know what everyone is doing. It’s going to be a work in progress to get these guys up to speed. We are confident in the studies that we have done on these guys that they are smart football players that should be able to get caught up to speed.
That’s our job as coaches, to make sure that the job description for them is very clear so there are no questions.
But, they’re the quarterback of the defense, them and the safety. There is work to be done, and so we’ll work our butts off to do that.
Q. How much did your success with former Eagles DT Ndamukong Suh and former Eagles DT Linval Joseph, the fact that you signed two guys instead of one? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, of course that was on our mind. You can ask [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] more about that, but that was definitely on our mind. Like, hey, when we had some things last year with some injuries — obviously a little bit different situation, but we had some injuries last year and wanted to make sure we had some depth and competition at the defensive line. We brought in two veteran guys last year. Obviously at a different time, but you think about those decisions, and of course Howie and I, we talk about everything. We talked about that and what we did last year around game eight or nine.
Q. When you bring in guys, obviously guys have to go. LB Davion Taylor has been here since you got here. How difficult is that? Obviously, things didn’t work out for him. (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Always hard when you have to say good-bye to players. That’s always a tough part of the job, because Davion has worked really hard to be in a position this year to be on the 90-man roster and fighting for a spot or a practice squad spot, and sometimes you have to — that’s a hard part of the job.
It’s not one we take lightly. We try to communicate with them, but when you’re building relationships and knowing guys for two years and knowing what an integral part that Davion was last year to our team — because it’s not just the 53 men on the team that make the team, right? It’s the practice squad guys, and Davion gave us great looks last year.
So that’s hard because he was part of a special team last year. We want to continue to build a special team this year one day at time, and it’s hard that he’s not going to be a part of it right now.
[WR] Deon Cain is back, so you never know. You never close the door on anything. We know his body of work, the type of person he is, so we’ll see how everything plays out.
Q. What’s the plan for G Josh Sills and what factored into keeping him here? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously we never took the charge lightly, right? So, you’re completely aware of that and then he goes on the exempt list.
We followed all the protocols there as far as just wanted to let the legal process play itself out. I think just at the end of the day, we let the legal process and the league’s decision to take him off the exempt list make our decision, right?
So, my experience with Josh has been nothing but positive. He’s been a great teammate and done his job and guys love him on this team.
So, my experience with him has been great. We’re happy to have him back.
Q. Does Josh Sills compete for a right guard job? He’s played a couple different positions while he was here. (Bob Grotz)
NICK SIRIANNI: We’re still working through — I mean, everybody is still working through. You have seen [C/G] Cam [Jurgens] in there. We haven’t really changed much right there, and Cam has been doing a nice job.
I’m not saying Cam is the starter right yet, which will be your guys’ next question, but he’s done a nice job so far, and we’re pleased with where he is right now.
Q. So why the hesitation on C/G Cam Jurgens? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I just don’t need to say anything yet. But it is your job to try to get me to say it. I don’t have to make that decision who the starters are right now.
I’ve learned to take it one day at a time in this league. But I appreciate the question.
Q. You said this was not about LB Nakobe Dean; what’s his timetable? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think he’s [Nakobe’s] close. And I’m not going to say, hey, this many days, because everybody’s body heals a little bit differently. We feel like it’s close and not too many more days before he’s back. He’s working really hard to rehab, and I can’t say enough about our trainers and doctors led by [Vice President of Sports Medicine/ Head Athletic Trainer] Tom [Hunkele] of just how good they are at getting guys healthy when they do get nicked.
So, yeah, hopefully it’s soon.
Q. You guys have a lot of fans here tonight at this practice. I understand if you haven’t had a chance to see this weekend, but a big theme in town this weekend has been the fan’s relationship across the street with Trea Turner. The support that you guys get, in what ways does that help you throughout your season? (Dave Uram)
NICK SIRIANNI: Oh, man, this is the best home field advantage in the NFL. Maybe in all of sports, right? I haven’t been to every venue, but I feel like I’ve been to every NFL venue. There is not a harder place to play than this. Why is that? We have passionate fans that love the Eagles, care about the Eagles and care about their teams and the city, and this is the best sports town in America.
I’m just honored to be a part of it. To hear that — I think we were coming over here and you told me, what, 50,000 — over 50,000. I remember last year, [WR] AJ [Brown] and [Former Eagles WR] Zach Pascal being like, ‘Whoa.’ I can’t remember what I saw, but they were like, man, Philly is lit. I can’t wait for our guys this year to see that as well.
I know the guys that have been here know that tonight is special. We’re able to get out and practice in front of our fans, and we really just appreciate their support. I think it’s been — I’ve heard a little bit about the support with the Phillies and their team. I just think that’s awesome, because they’re just — the fans are just fighting with us through the ups and downs, because there are ups and downs in the season.
We know that. We just love their support and the home field advantage we have playing in front of the best fans in America.
Q. You said kind of off-the-cuff earlier in the off-season that you see WR AJ Brown is getting better. In what ways? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, his [AJ Brown] quickness. He’s a big man who’s really quick. He just, man, it’s hard to say he’s getting quicker, but he is. He’s in and out of his breaks quicker, which helps you create more separation, which is going to help you get more yards after the catch, which is going to help the quarterback throw you the ball more.
Just the way he approaches it every day. He really works hard at it, and he loves it. But I really notice his stamina and quickness in and out of breaks, that he’s really worked hard at that. I know he said something in the off-season, like, ‘Yeah, if I’m in great shape, I’m going to get more opportunities.’
Q. What’s the story behind having a designated nickel coach? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: It’s just such a vital part. It’s one of the same reasons — again, you have a defensive back coach overseeing it and assistance defensive back coach, and then we have the guy that’s also an assistant defensive backs coach but responsible for the nickels through [Defensive Backs Coach] DK’s [McDonald] supervision. DK’s still in charge of that entire spot.
And it’s a unique spot. I think a long time ago — not a long time ago, but colleges started doing that with the slot receiver because the game is a little different in there. And so any time there is a specialized play — like in the off-season we bring a guy in that works with our guy’s hands, a karate specialist, for the pass rush drill, right?
Any advantage you can get there you take. I always thought it was crazy that so many of our games come down to one kick, right? But if you look around the league, how many teams have kicking coaches? I remember talking to [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] about that when I first got here, like we’ve to have a kicking coach. This is an important thing.
And we got [Special Teams Assistant] Tyler Brown. He’s awesome and he’s done an unbelievable job coaching our kickers, punters, and specialists, and long snappers.
It’s the same philosophy there. When the job description has some different pools and the more unique it is, like when you go from the outside to the inside, it’s worth that. [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer] Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie gives us every resource we need.
I mean, unbelievable owner that will give us every resource we need to be able to win, which I really value about this organization and [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer] Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie himself.
Q. The last time we saw you on the practice field, you were giving some tough coaching to QB Jalen Hurts. What does it mean to you and the team that he’s able to accept that and not cause a problem? (Dave Uram)
NICK SIRIANNI: Shoot, when you can coach your best player the hardest, that’s good for everybody. All that’s important is that you continue to get better at every different spot.
So [QB] Jalen [Hurts], you know, it’s evident by who he is as a person. He craves and wants to be better at all times. I remember when I first got here, he was like, ‘Man, just coach me hard.’
I’ve always obviously remembered that and that’s my style to coach the guys hard to make sure we’re getting better. I also think it’s very important, you know, and I don’t — like I think it’s just the way of the world, right? I think a story is when oh, [Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni], got after [Former Eagles WR] Jalen Reagor or whoever it was, whoever you say.
But I think it’s just as important, and I just think about that, because I remember that was the first thing you guys said when I yelled at the practice field. But it’s equally as important to praise when they do it right, right? I think that’s — like there are two types of accountability, but all accountability is aimed to get better. One accountability is you can yell and correct, one you can correct and smack them on the butt and fix it.
My favorite type of accountability is when you’re like, ‘That’s exactly the way it’s supposed to look.’ Then you’re confirming exactly what you want. Our job as coaches is to make sure the job description is very clear, and there is no better form of accountability than, ‘Hey, great job. What a play.’
I have sure been doing a lot of that with [QB] Jalen [Hurts] this training camp.