Football practice isn’t very exciting. Non-contact practice is even worse. But don’t mistake that to mean this isn’t an important time of the year. What happens in the spring and summer sets the foundation for the regular season.
I wrote my PE.com column on assistant coaches and their importance to the young and new players. We’ll talk about the players, but the men doing the teaching play a vital role. Chip Kelly chose his coaching staff very carefully. He wanted veteran coaches that would be good teachers. To this point, that is exactly what he’s gotten.
Not all players will show the progress we want, but the staff has done a good job with player development so far. This year the expectations will be even higher. The Eagles are coming off a winning season so that brings a pressure to get players to perform at a certain level. Also, this is Year 2. Simply getting players to function within the scheme isn’t good enough anymore. Players need to show progress. They need to eliminate mistakes and start making plays.
One added benefit this year…returning players can help the rookies and new guys. Last year no players knew the scheme. Everyone was learning. This time around Trent Cole and Connor Barwin can tutor Marcus Smith. Riley Cooper can teach Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. Bradley Fletcher can help Jaylen Watkins. And so on.
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2 players the Eagles could be checking out…LB Dion Jordan and RB LaMichael James.
One player the Eagles could be shopping…LB/DE Brandon Graham.
Jordan is an extreme longshot at this point. There are cap issues with him. There is also the question of Miami giving up a talented young player in return for future picks. The Eagles could deal them Graham as part of the deal, but the main compensation would be a pick or picks.
While the Eagles did want Jordan, we have no idea if they have interest in James. He was a star for Kelly at Oregon and might be a good fit as a backup runner in this offense, but this is pure speculation. The Eagles may want to see Matt Tucker and the rookies in action before considering going for another veteran RB.
I was surprised that Graham didn’t get dealt during the draft. Maybe the Eagles want another chance to see him in action. Or maybe they just didn’t get good offers and are waiting to see if that changes.
Trade talk is fun, but rarely pans out.