The Eagles held an open practice on Monday. Fourth string QB G.J. Kinne got some praise.
Two of the standout plays from Monday’s Organized Team Activity at the NovaCare Complex were an on-the run, across-the-body pass to Jordan Matthews over the middle and a perfectly placed deep ball that floated over the shoulder and into the arms of James Casey down the left side of the field. The two pristine passes had one thing in common – they both originated from the right arm of G.J. Kinne.
“Y’all are just here once a week, but that’s every day,” Kinne said after practice with a laugh. “I try to do that every day.”
A former standout at the University of Tulsa, Kinne originally signed with the Eagles last March. He was then signed to the Eagles practice squad last October after being released as part of the team’s final round of cuts heading into the regular season. Entering his second year in Philadelphia, the athletic quarterback, equipped with an added year of experience, is ready to take on 2014.
“I feel great,” Kinne said. “I can’t wait to get these next few OTAs and minicamp going and then go home, work on my craft a little bit and get ready for the preseason. I’m really excited to show everybody what I’ve got.
“Last year, all I did was study, study, study over that whole (offseason) break. This year I’m still studying, but I can work on some other things, physically more than mentally, just because I know the offense so well. I’ve been through it so many times and I just feel really good about it.”
Chip Kelly had Kinne and all of the members of the Eagles practice squad accompany the team on all road-trips in 2013, something that the Eagles had not done in previous years. That hands-on approach, along with a strong group in the quarterback room, seems to have gone a long way for the 25-year old signal caller.
“I feel so comfortable,” Kinne explained. “All that experience last year of being able to travel to the games, being on sidelines charting the plays, working with Nick (Foles) and (former quarterbacks) Coach Lazor and (Michael Vick) – He taught me so much. We have similar styles of play, so it really helped me watching both of those guys and I just feel really good going into this minicamp.”
Much of the attention surrounding the Eagles’ backup quarterback job has centered on Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley, leaving Kinne out of the conversation. But Kinne isn’t concerned with how the depth chart is perceived or how many snaps each quarterback takes in practice. Instead, he’s solely focused on getting better every day, and it doesn’t hurt matters that he’s able to learn from a friend and fellow Texas native.
“Me and Nick were the same class coming out, (we’re both from) the same area, so we knew all about each other coming out (of high school),” Kinne said of working with Foles. “We’re best friends on the field and off the field, so it makes it so much easier. When he’s out there I help him and when I’m out there he helps me … I just go out there and I get to learn from one of the best quarterbacks in the league, a Pro Bowl quarterback, so that helps.”
Before you dismiss that as team fluff, there are other reports to check out.
— Barkley has had his struggles, along with some fine moments, but he hasn’t had nearly the same number of opportunities as Foles and Sanchez. Not only is he with the third team, but he’s splitting many of the repetitions with G.J. Kinne. It’s difficult to make any bold statements about competition at this point, but Kinne has looked more efficient, in my humble opinion. The Eagles aren’t likely to give up on a fourth rounder like Barkley, but he isn’t going to be handed a roster spot. Barkley made it fairly clear two weeks ago that he didn’t like starting OTAs behind Sanchez. He isn’t likely excited about having to split snaps with the undrafted Kinne. Let’s see how he responds.
The Eagles still have high hopes for Barkley, but it sure sounds like he is off to a slow start in the OTAs. Barkley isn’t happy about being the #3 QB and also getting limited reps, but that’s life in the NFL. His pedigree as an elite QB in high school and college doesn’t mean anything on the field. You play how you play.
I think Barkley will be just fine in time, but he’s not used to having to battle like this. McLane’s final line really is the key. “Let’s see how he (Barkley) responds.” This could end up bringing out the best in Barkley or it could hurt his development. The worst thing he can do is try to do too much. The coaches want him to be smart and accurate. Barkley will hurt his chances if he starts focusing on big plays and gets sloppy.
I am glad to hear that Kinne is making the most of his chances. In a fantasy world, he would spend this year on the practice squad and then take over the #3 role next year, with Barkley as the primary backup. That would give the Eagles 3 young QBs.
I think Kinne fits the Eagles system and he certainly seems to have the intangibles to be a longtime backup QB. Now he’s just got to show that he’s got the talent to seriously push for a roster spot. Kinne has to make the Eagles want to keep him around, whether on the roster or for another year on the practice squad.
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12:27 – Remember growing up when you would have a teacher who just somehow managed to see everything? I think Stoutland is that guy on this coaching staff. He’s got the offensive linemen split into five lines (three deep). He instructs them to take a “power step” and jam their foot in the ground.
According to long-time offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, a power step is a “flat, aggressive, inside step with the post foot. It is intended to take away inside rush lanes.”
Stoutland somehow manages to watch everyone at the same time, correcting Andrew Gardner and praising undrafted free agent Donald Hawkins.
If you’re wondering about the second-team OL during this drill, here it is from left to right: Matt Tobin, Allen Barbre, Julian Vandervelde, Michael Bamiro and Dennis Kelly.
12:33 – Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis both have their helmets off. Mathis’ hair is soaked throughout. Kelce’s seems dry. How does this happen? Does Mathis sweat more? Did he pour water on his head? Is Kelce missing a specific gene?
Don’t worry, we have all of training camp to get answers to these important questions.
One thing to note on offensive line calls. The Eagles use a number system to label the different calls. And on packaged plays, they don’t need to know what the quarterback’s options are (handoff, keeper, bubble screen, etc.). They block it up the same way regardless. In other ways, inside zone is inside zone to them. If Nick Foles throws a bubble screen, that’s irrelevant to the linemen.
Being at football practice is visually overwhelming, even if you go on a regular basis. There are so many things to look at. But Sheil is right about some coaches and their ability to still see everything. Those guys are amazing.
The right side of the #2 OL scares the heck out of me. Really curious to see how Bamiro and Kelly play this summer.
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• Rookie undrafted free agent tight end Blake Annen struggled with some drops in a tight end drill today. The drill involves Eagles assistant tight end coach Justin Peele throwing passes at the tight ends while they’re facing away from Peele. They have to turn around and catch the ball as it’s already in the air.
• Speaking of rookie undrafted free agents, offensive guard Karim Barton stood out to me during Eagles offensive line drills. Barton is listed at 6-2 but I’m not sure he’s quite that tall. He’s stout and strong and I’ve been impressed with his footwork at times. Could be practice squad material.
Annen is an athlete with potential. He needs a lot of work.
Barton was measure at 6023, or just under 6-2 1/2. Not ideal size, but certainly okay.
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I want to go back to Jeff McLane’s notes for a couple of interesting comments by him.
— I don’t think I’ve seen Matthews drop a pass yet, and he’s gotten plenty of action as a slot receiver with both the second and third teams. As I wrote last week, Matthews likes to run out many of his catches into the end zone, but it may not be what Kelly is looking for when the Eagles offense is in up-tempo mode. On one catch-and-run, he had to be replaced because he couldn’t get back to the line in time for the next play. Matthews has easily been Sanchez’ favorite receiver. The quarterback will often run to his receiver after a big catch and give up a chest thump. I sense a bromance in the works.
— If Sanchez isn’t looking for Matthews downfield, he’s had Darren Sproles underneath. Many of Sproles’ touches during these drills have been on running plays. He’s the second team running back, and practice requires that he employs the role of LeSean McCoy’s backup, but Sproles’ chief job this season will be as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
— The following five fielded punts and have done so for the last two weeks – Sproles, Damaris Johnson, Maclin, Riley Cooper and Matthews. The same group also fielded kickoffs. Sproles will likely handle both duties this coming season. Kelly has been as omnipresent as ever during special teams drills. He spent a good part of punt drills near the returners as he typically did last year. For all the time he spent on special teams last season – more than most teams, according to various accounts – it had to be disappointing when the Eagles had a number of breakdowns at various points. It happens, but Kelly obviously felt there was room for improvement and went out and tried to upgrade (e.g. Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, et al.).
While it was cool to read about Matthews running the ball down the field last week, how this would work with Kelly’s practice tempo. Apparently, it doesn’t work well. I’d rather have Matthews getting extra reps than simply showing he’s willing to hustle.
Great point about Kelly and STs. Chip spent a ton of time with those guys last year and still got mediocre results. There is more talent to work with this year. Maragos and Braman are the big names. You also have Marcus Smith. Jason Phillips could help if he’s able to make the team. Brad Smith made some impact after he was signed last year. Taylor Hart could be a good STer. Nolan Carroll was added in part for his ability on STs.
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Finally, speaking of Carroll…he had an INT yesterday and got good reviews from several writers. It sounds like he has been exactly what the Eagles wanted. Carroll is a good #3 CB for the outside and is someone that could push the starters in Training Camp.
This isn’t a hype machine to make Carroll into Sherman-Revis stuff, but the guy has started some NFL games and has had some success. He’s not a Roc Carmichael or Curtis Marsh project. Carroll has a legit track record. Whether he does seriously challenge for a starting role or simply is a backup, the Eagles needed depth at CB and he sure seems like a good pickup so far.