29 Eagles players hit the field and practiced today.
Originally that was going to be 30 guys. Then a couple of rookies screwed up. P Brad Wing and RB Matthew Tucker failed their conditioning test. This is a series of sprints (usually from one side of the field to the other) that have to be completed in a certain time frame, which is set by position.
This isn’t a huge deal, but it sure isn’t a good sign for a pair of UDFAs that had an uphill battle to make the team. Nothing screams “Hey coach, I’m ready to play!” like falling short of minimum conditioning standards. Veterans will take the test on Thursday and Wing and Tucker can take it again then. You could certainly hear disappointment in Chip Kelly’s comments. A RB and a P being too slow? Not a good start for them.
C Jason Kelce was eligible and decided he wanted to practice. He is ready to go and just wanted some extra time on the field. That’s smart. This will let him ease into things and be ready when the full team practices on Friday.
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Michael Vick met with the media and said the right things. He stressed that he’s ready to compete. It feels like the light finally went on for Vick, in terms of the situation he’s in. He’s competing for the QB job. That’s it. He’s not guaranteed the job. Nor is Foles or Barkley.
This is the first time in the NFL that Vick has been on a team where the coach didn’t have his guy. Vick was that guy in Atlanta. Donovan was that guy in 2009. Then Kolb initially in 2010. Vick won the job from Kolb and was the Eagles guy for the last 2 1/2 years.
Now Kelly comes in and has no guy. He’s got a QB competition. This is a new concept to Vick. If he’s got the right attitude, that will certainly help his cause.
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The two practice gurus are still Jimmy Bama and Sheil Kapadia. Let’s see what they have for us today.
• Earl Wolff had an interception today during 2 on 3’s. After practice, Wolff talked about his tackling at NC State, where he was known as guy who did a good job wrapping up ball-carriers. “When I have the chance to make a big hit, I feel like I can, but I’m more of a ‘for sure’ tackler.” Wolff, by the way, has a pretty cool tattoo. It’s a intravenous bag in the shape of a football, with the drip tube going into a heart.
When you read these, keep in mind that there were 29 players in a non-contact practice. You won’t be getting a ton of notes like you will next week.
* One nice part about these practices is you can get up close to the field and actually listen to the coaches. For example, I spent some time around Jeff Stoutland and the offensive line. There were only five players in attendance – Lane Johnson, Jason Kelce, Michael Bamiro, Nic Purcell and Matt Tobin. On one rep, Johnson held an orange blocking pad and was supposed to simulate a 3-technique defensive tackle.
But when the ball was snapped, Johnson didn’t go where Stoutland wanted him to go, so he blew the whistle and stopped the drill. Remember Chip Kelly’s philosophy of teaching in the classroom, not on the field? That doesn’t apply to these practices. Stoutland explained how the 3-technique could either attack the gap or the offensive tackle.
Sheil also has some interesting pics in his post. You can see where Kelly is using some new devices to help coach the WRs. We’ll find out if this stuff works or has minimal effect. I do think it is smart to try new ideas. And Kelly is full of them.
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Les Bowen wrote a good piece about Howie Roseman and the ongoing roster shuffle. Howie had some interesting thoughts.
“We’re still trying to figure out the guys on the back end of the roster,” Roseman said. “I think you’ve seen, there’s been some turnover the last couple weeks. We’re trying to find the right fits. There’ll probably be a lot more flexibility than maybe we’ve had the last couple years about trying to find the right fits, and maybe getting some players in and out . . . Once we get the pads on and we see guys in live situations, we’ll figure out things a lot more clearly than you do in the spring.”
“When you’re combining a new staff with new schemes, there’s going to be a lot more competition. Then you have some guys that maybe didn’t fit perfectly in the last scheme, and you bring ‘em in and you realize they’re really good scheme fits here . . . and the flip side, as well.”
We’re learning about Chip Kelly. So is Roseman. We’re learning about the hybrid defense. So is Howie Roseman.
There will be players coming and going. There are a lot of question marks that make it impossible to know how some positions will look. The Eagles could be outstanding at DE if the top guys play as expected (Cox, Thornton) and some other guys pan out (Geathers, Curry, Logan, Kruger, etc.). But what if those guys don’t pan out? Then we’ll need to make moves to find depth. And spring football told us nothing since the players didn’t have pads on. The only way Howie and the coaches can figure this out is to watch the guys play with live hitting and then adjust accordingly.
If reading Les isn’t enough, click on this Reuben Frank article and you can see Les and Rhea Hughes discussing the Eagles. They talk about James Casey more than anything. Good stuff.
Roob wrote about how creative Howie has been in building the roster. The Eagles signed Michael Bamiro as a street free agent. They signed Ifeanyi Momah as a street free agent. Both players got creative contracts that showed aggressiveness on the part of the Eagles. They signed Nic Purcell right after the draft. Purcell is the guy from New Zealand who never played major college football.
You can see the Eagles wanted talent on the roster to help foster legitimate competition. The players may not pan out, but I think you do have to give Howie credit for being creative and aggressive.