PHOENIX -- When the Eagles have their first practice next month under new coach Chip Kelly they fully expect to have their Pro Bowl left tackle join them.
Kelly on Wednesday said he has heard nothing from the team’s medical staff to believe that he wouldn’t have a healthy Jason Peters, who missed the 2012 season after undergoing two Achilles tendon surgeries in his right leg.
The Eagles will have their first three-day minicamp sometime during the third week of April. Only NFL teams with new head coaches can conduct a minicamp before the NFL draft, which starts April 25.
Peters, who made five straight Pro Bowls from 2007-2011, was supposed to be the anchor of the Eagles’ offensive line going into 2012 but tore his Achilles while training in his Texas on March 27 and underwent surgery April 3.
Early in his rehab, Peters re-tore the tendon when he fell off the Roll-A-Bout scooter he was using to avoid putting weight on his leg and underwent a second surgery. The Eagles signed free-agent tackle Demetress Bell and re-signed veteran backup tackle King Dunlap.
The team believed Bell would be an adequate fill-in and maintained hope that Peters would be able to return late in the season or in the playoffs. Bell struggled in former offensive line coach Howard Mudd’s schemes and Dunlap won the starting job out of camp.
Bell started four games after Dunlap sustained a hamstring injury but couldn’t hold the job. Neither tackle played well, and the Eagles were nowhere near a playoff team.
Peters started the season on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) list and was later placed on Injured Reserve to end his season.
Here are some other interesting tidbits from Kelly’s breakfast session with the media Wednesday morning at the owners meetings:
• Kelly confirmed that the Eagles will have a private workout with Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel later this month. The team will travel to Tallahassee, Fla., to work out Manuel on March 28.
• Defensive coordinator Billy Davis will have full autonomy over the defense. “When I was a coordinator, I didn’t like to be micromanaged,” Kelly said.
• Kelly said he preferred to have training camp at the NovaCare Complex, saying that it’s more friendly for some of his practice habits and conditions.
• Kelly said he prefers taller, longer athletes on his team because “bigger people beat up little people.”
• Don’t expect Kelly to quickly decide on a starting quarterback. He said he has no timetable for finding the No. 1 guy and didn’t rule out drafting one.
• Kelly seemed warmer to the idea of having DeSean Jackson return more punts than he has in the past two years.
• His biggest challenge since being hired as head coach of the Eagles? “The Schuylkill.”