In basketball, it’s the first step that can help you can by a defender, and former Philadelphia 76ers great Allen Iverson had one of the best first steps in NBA history. Along with his speed and athleticism, Iverson’s first step helped him to score over 24,000 points in his career and got him inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.
Eagles rookie wideout DeVonta Smith, like Iverson, has an excellent first step and is off to a decent start. Last week against the Chiefs, Smith had his first 100-yard receiving game with seven catches and 122 yards, and he leads the team in receptions and yards.
On Friday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Smith’s first step to Iverson.
“Yeah, I always consider the jab at the first point of the line of scrimmage,” Sirianni said. “And I think this will resonate with Philadelphia fans, that any time I teach a wide receiver how to release off the line of scrimmage, I have an Allen Iverson clip ready to go.
“And because it’s very much like a crossover. So why was Allen Iverson – I know this is like, ‘Man, why is he talking about basketball?’ Why was Allen Iverson good at the crossover? One thing, and you hear him say this all the time, is that he’s fast; he was quick. And so, people had to react to his first step.
“And so, when he took that hard jab one way, they had to react to it because he was quick, and then he was able to go back the other way. And that’s really what receivers are. And because DeVonta’s fast and because he’s quick and he has a quick, fast first release, first step, they have to react to when he jabs, and then the other thing on top of that, he’s making it a meaningful jab. You know, some receivers will just kind of — I mean, I know you can’t really see what I’m doing, but put their foot in the ground.
“Well, he puts his foot in the ground, he puts his body that way, and puts his head that way to really get them going, and then he crosses them over to, say, on — you know, how Allen Iverson used to do it.
“So that’s what makes him so effective. Again, his first quick step and then his technique in which he does it with how he gets that guying leaning that way and then come off and do it, So that’s exciting because that’s not something a lot of guys have to do a lot in college. And so, he’s just a quick — again, I always felt like he is a technically sound wide receiver, and he was coached really well at Alabama. And he’s a student of the game.
“So, it’s no surprise. And so, he has that understanding to that, too, that you really got to move them to get off the line of scrimmage.”
Well, if Smith is anything like Iverson, the Eagles, and their fans will be happy!
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was expected to start and play against the New England Patriots on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field, but after he went through warmups, the Eagles decided to keep him out.
After the game, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni explained what happened.
“He came in and wasn’t feeling great,” Sirianni said. “We put him through pregame warmups. He wanted to go out there and go through pregame warmups. He came back in and still wasn’t feeling good. We evaluated him, and we just decided it wasn’t in his best interest to play with what he was feeling. We evaluated him. He is fine now. He is doing okay now, but that is why we held him out…
“He actually went to the hospital to get evaluated for his stomach. Like I said, came back, everything is good, and he is going to be okay.”
According to Sirianni, the pain had to be bad for Hurts not to play.
“He’s a tough guy, so it must have been hurting him pretty good for him to let us know about that,” Sirianni said.
Without Hurts, Philadelphia went with veteran QB Joe Flacco. The Eagles, who had joint practices with the Patriots this week, rested many of their starters on Thursday night and were blown out by New England 35-0.
However, a bright spot for Philly was the debut of rookie WR DeVonta Smith.
The number 10 overall pick, who missed time due to a knee injury, caught two passes for 19 yards. Smith had a couple of drops, but he was happy to be out on the field.
“It felt good just to get out there and get back in a groove with my routine before the game and stuff like that,” he said. “Just to get back out there and get back to myself.”
Flacco tried to connect with Smith on a deep pass in the second quarter, but it appeared he misjudged the ball in the air.
“Yes, I took too long to look back at the ball,” Smith said. “That is a great throw by [Eagles QB] Joe [Flacco] and I have to do my part.”
Sirianni added on Smith’s performance: “Yeah, you know, looked like he was a little antsy at first. Dropped a couple balls, and he was a little late with his eyes on the deep ball that [QB] Joe [Flacco] threw him. He made a couple plays there. That’s what happens with young wideouts. They have to play and go through the ups and downs a little bit, and the preseason is for that to happen. He ran a good route on that return route on a third down. Thought he ran a couple other good routes, too. Again, we will look at the tape to see totally how he played, but I’m glad he got in there and was able to play a good, meaningful first half and take a couple hits and have to go against some of those tight coverage looks he had to get.”
The Eagles get back at it next Friday when they travel to MetLife Stadium to battle the Jets in their final preseason game, and as they did with New England, Philadelphia will have joint practices with New York next week, so the Eagles may keep a few starters out against the Jets.