It was no coincidence that the hottest practice of the summer was also the longest practice of the summer.
With temperatures soaring through the 90s on the way to 97, the Eagles practiced for about an hour and 50 minutes in full pads Thursday morning. Head coach Nick Sirianni moved the session up from the usual 10 a.m. to 9 a.m., but it was still blazing hot on the shadeless grass fields at the NovaCare Complex.
“You grab a towel and wipe yourself off and five seconds later you have to do the same damn thing again,” tight end Jack Stoll said after practice.
The conditions make it challenging both physically and mentally for the players as they try to keep up a high level of discipline and detail and have a productive practice despite grueling conditions.
And Sirianni likes that.
“The thing you dislike about it is you don’t want to lose guys, you’re worried about the heat as far as players’ health,” he said. “That’s what you dislike about it.
“What you love about it, this is how the first couple games are going to be. Atlanta last year, that game was hot. This year’s game in Detroit, they’ll have the air conditioning on but after that it’s going to be hot and we have to be ready for that and it gets you in great shape.”
But it’s more than just heat acclimation that Sirianni likes about the difficult conditions.
It’s how fighting through it together can bring the team even closer.
“It pulls guys (together),” he said after practice. “And what you like about it is they’re all fighting through the same elements together. It’s not just hot for one of them, it’s hot for both the offense and the defense, and you get a little bit more of a bond there with that.
“The other thing you like about it is they get tired a little quicker, and so you have to fight. When you’re tired, fundamentals suffer, football IQs can suffer, so you’ve got to fight through that, so there’s so many great things that are preparing us for the season when you have a hot day like this. We enjoy having that type of heat.”
The Eagles’ medical team monitors players’ hydration levels throughout practice, and Sirianni makes sure to stop practice a couple times so players can take water.
Stoll said the players enjoyed the challenge of getting through two hours in full pads on the hottest day of the summer.
“I think we feel great,” he said. “When you add another element like the heat, that’s what training camp is for, to go out here and get used to something like the heat. Lord knows, September, some of these games get hot, so it’s good coming out here and getting that work in.
“And it wasn’t up to our standard when we got to the tail end, but that’s what training camp’s for and we’re just going to keep getting better and better.”
No pickle juice to be seen, but Sirianni believes a day like Thursday will help his guys be prepared if there is a steamy kickoff in September.
“Football’s football at the end of the day,” Stoll said. “Rain, sleet, snow, and now heat is thrown in there too.”
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