Reid Names Starters at Safety, Fullback

Reid Names Starters at Safety, Fullback

The Eagles introduced their rookie class to the NFL over the weekend, wrapping the first ever mini-camp for nine draft picks and a bevy of undrafted free agents on Monday. After the lockout eliminated off-season programs last year, it was a welcome return to normal, if a largely uneventful affair. In fact, the action on the field may not have been the most newsworthy item from the NovaCare Complex.

During his exit interview, head coach Andy Reid informed reporters that Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman will be the starters at safety, and Stanley Havili at fullback when the full team assembles for OTAs on May 22. That sets the top of the preliminary depth chart at every offensive and defensive position except linebacker.

Allen and Coleman reprising their roles from last season was not exactly a surprise since the Eagles did not add a safety through the draft.

There are still high hopes for Allen, the 37th overall pick of 2010. He looked slow during preseason last year while recovering from the torn patellar tendon that ended his rookie season early, and was benched for a healthy Jarrad Page. Allen got back into the lineup three weeks into the regular season, playing well the rest of the way with few notable exceptions.

Coleman started 13 games last season, and actually led the club with four interceptions, but spent time on the bench as well. A seventh-round pick the same year as Allen, Coleman's ceiling isn't nearly as high, and the Birds have Jaiquawn Jarrett waiting in the wings. Jarrett played sparingly in his rookie year, and while the lockout-shortened offseason certainly impacted his ability to hit the ground running, he may not have merited a second-round selection in 2011. We shall see.

At fullback, Havili replaces Owen Schmitt, who currently remains a free agent. A seventh-round pick out of USC in '11, Havili spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad, where it seems they were grooming him to take over.

Reid was less committal at linebacker, but more or less admitted he would like to see rookie Mychal Kendricks run with the starters. DeMeco Ryans has MIKE locked down, but Kendricks should get reps at one of the outside positions, especially with the news Jamar Chaney will not return from off-season neck surgery before training camp.

"I would tell you that he looked good out here," Reid said. "He made a
lot of plays and got his hands on the ball. We've just got to see where
he gets the most reps -- and normally that's with the ones. I've got to
go through all that with the coaches and figure it out."

By all accounts, Kendricks had a strong mini-camp, demonstrating his visually impressive sub-4.5 speed. You can't tell much from watching football players run around in shorts, but fast is still fast.

>> 5/14: Reid rookie camp bullet points [CSN]

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”