Full-squad OTAs have been underway at the NovaCare Complex since Tuesday, but Thursday marked the first day the media was invited to take in a practice. It’s also the first time Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spoke to reporters since the draft.
For everyone except the Dallas Cowboys apparently, practices at this point in the year are all non-contact, and there’s only so much you can learn about players when they’re in shorts and T-shirts. One thing Kelly did mention though, which several reporters have since confirmed, is the Eagles are moving even faster during OTAs than they did one year ago.
“Light years” faster.
Chip said team is "light years" ahead of where it was last season at this time. Players know what's going on, practice going faster. #Eagles
— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) May 29, 2014
Just finished first round of team scrimmage (non contact, of course) and pace was unbelievable. Sometimes less than 10 seconds between snaps — Nick Fierro (@NickFierro) May 29, 2014
Before you ask how a team could possibly move any faster than the Eagles did in 2013, Kelly is referring to last year’s OTAs. Obviously, this time a year ago, every little practice detail was new to practically all 90 players, save for maybe a few who went to Oregon. Now, most of the roster knows what to expect, which undoubtedly makes it a lot easier for newcomers to fall in line as well.
Will familiarity with Kelly’s ways help the Birds hit the ground running come September? It probably couldn’t hurt. We tend to overlook the fact that this club got off to a 1-3 start and fell to 3-5 before rattling off wins in six of their final seven contests.
Anything that indicates the Eagles are better prepared for the season ahead can’t be a bad sign.
Then again, we really can’t read too much into anything this time of year. Just remember, this is still very early stages of the offseason, but I think we can all appreciate the appetite for any kind of Eagles news right now.
J. Maclin, A. Benn, J. Phillips all full-go after training camp ACL injuries. Mark Sanchez throwing without restrictions, too
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) May 29, 2014
• Wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Been and linebacker Jason Phillips are all full participants after sustaining torn ACLs early in training camp last summer. Time will tell how their recovery is going, but the first step is getting back on the field.
Jimmy Kempski for Philly.com already notes Phillips does not appear to be full speed.
Chip says Nate Allen is “the first guy up” opposite Jenkins, ahead of Wolff
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) May 29, 2014
• At this point in time, safety seems to be the only starting job on either side of the ball that’s truly up for grabs. That being said, it should come as no surprise that Nate Allen would be listed first on the depth chart. The fifth-year veteran started all 16 games last season, improving gradually as time went on. He was actually fairly reliable down the stretch.
However, right now, it might be just a matter of somebody has to go first. I wouldn’t rule out Earl Wolff overtaking Allen at some point based on how the lineup looks like in May.
Ugly series just now for Sanchez.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) May 29, 2014
• Wouldn’t look too deep into Mark Sanchez’s performance at this point, either. Have to think he’s still learning the offense and getting timing down with his receivers. And while several reporters remark he is taking second-team snaps behind Nick Foles to start, I wouldn’t rule out Matt Barkley winning the backup job if Sanchez did struggle.
Kelly: Everyone thinks Darren Sproles is a receiver, he's a running back and a talented one at that. — Eagles Insider (@EaglesInsider) May 29, 2014
• I’m sure Chip would love it if the rest of the league continues to view Darren Sproles as a running back so he continues to draw favorable matchups in coverage, but the numbers suggest otherwise. He’s not a guy you’re ever going to hand the ball to 15-20 times in a game.
Marcus Smith is lining up over the slot WR often.
— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) May 29, 2014
• Marcus Smith’s versatility, not his pass-rush ability, may be the quickest way to earn the first-round pick playing time as a rookie. Let’s face it, Trent Cole held his own in that role last season, but it’s not his forte, nor will it ever be as the two-time Pro Bowler approaches 32 years of age.
Jordan Matthews not here today because of NFLPA event. Brad Smith running with first team alongside Cooper and Maclin. — Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) May 29, 2014
• Interesting to note, as the competition for the fifth wide receiver spot is thought to be very wide open at this point. Brad Smith, a versatile offensive weapon and special teams contributor, has to be the favorite.
Murderleg just nailed a 50 yarded with room to spare #Eagles
— Eliot Shorr-Parks (@EliotShorrParks) May 29, 2014
• Alex Henery has done this exactly twice in his three-year NFL career. Long live Carey Spear.