2014 Eagles ‘light years’ ahead of last year’s squad and more observations at OTAs

2014 Eagles ‘light years’ ahead of last year’s squad and more observations at OTAs

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.

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.


• 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.


• 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.


• 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.


• 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’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.


• 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.


• Alex Henery has done this exactly twice in his three-year NFL career. Long live Carey Spear.

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

USA Today Images

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Eagles bring back Taylor Hart after stint with Chip Kelly

Eagles bring back Taylor Hart after stint with Chip Kelly

The Eagles have brought back a familiar face to take Ron Brooks' roster spot.

On Monday, the team claimed defensive tackle Taylor Hart off waivers from San Francisco. Hart was just waived on Saturday by the 49ers, who claimed him after the Eagles waived him at final cuts.

So, Hart is coming back to Philly after a stint with Chip Kelly in San Francisco.

Hart, 25, played in one game for the 49ers this year. The Eagles are light at defensive tackle thanks to Bennie Logan's groin injury. While head coach Doug Pederson on Monday said Logan was getting better, the Eagles still brought in more depth by claiming Hart.

While still with the Eagles, Kelly had a hand in drafting Hart, an Oregon product, in the fifth round of 2014.

Hart worked hard this offseason to learn how to play in Jim Schwartz's aggressive 4-3 defense, which is very unlike the ones he had played in during college and in the NFL.

Brooks has been placed on IR after rupturing a quad tendon during Sunday's game against the Vikings. He'll have surgery this week.

In addition to adding Hart to the active roster, the Eagles also added cornerback Aaron Grymes to their practice squad.

Grymes, 25, was having an impressive training camp and preseason with the Eagles before injuring his right shoulder. He was waived shortly after that.

After coming out of the University of Idaho in 2013, Grymes didn't make an NFL team so he went to Canada. He ended up as a starter and All-Star on the Edmonton Eskimos and won a Grey Cup in 2015.

To make room for Grymes, the Eagles cut OL Matt Rotheram from the practice squad.