'Beat-up' Eagles making history with short week

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'Beat-up' Eagles making history with short week

September 17, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Chip Kelly and the Eagles are the first team in NFL history to open a season with three games in 11 days. (USA Today Images)

By the time they were starting to recover from the Redskins game, it was time to play the Chargers. And by the time they start to recover from the Chargers game, it’ll be time to play the Chiefs.

Three games in 11 days at any point in the season is challenging enough.

Doing it to open a season, under a new coach, that’s a lot to ask.

The Eagles on Thursday night will become the first team in NFL history to open a season with three games in 11 days.

“Our bodies are beat up,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “We’re still beat up from playing Sunday, but it’s no time to complain and gripe about it. You’ve got to strap it on and play ball Thursday night, and we’re looking forward to it.

No team has ever opened a season on a Monday night and then played on Thursday night in Week 3. That’s what the NFL schedule makers have forced the Eagles to do when they face the Chiefs at the Linc Thursday night.

Two short weeks in a row means less preparation time, less practice time, less film time, less meeting time. And with a new coach trying to install new schemes, the process becomes that much more difficult for the Eagles.

“You definitely would love to have that recovery day and have a couple days off and prepare for the game, but it’s out of our control,” defensive end Cedric Thornton said. “It’s something we have to do, so you don’t think about it or complain about it, you just go do it. Just go play.”

The Eagles opened the season in Washington with a win on a Monday night and by the time their Amtrak charter dropped them off at 30th Street Station, it was early Tuesday morning. They were back at the NovaCare Complex later that day, spending their normal off day in meetings.

They played the Chargers at home Sunday and because of the second straight short week, they were back at practice just 24 hours later.

“You’ve just got to take care of your body the best you can, work when people are not,” linebacker Mychal Kendricks said. “Like today (Tuesday), I came in at 7 instead of 8 just to get that extra hour in because of the short week.

“That’s all you’ve got to do, make up for the lost time, [get] a little less sleep. Especially coming off a loss, you’ve got to get back to work as soon as possible just to get that taste out of your mouth.”

The Eagles are the first NFL team to play three games in 11 days at any point in a season since the 2011 Packers, who beat the Vikings on a Monday night and the Buccaneers the following Sunday, both at Lambeau, then beat the Lions on Thanksgiving Thursday in Detroit.

Last time the Eagles had two consecutive short weeks was in 2003, when they beat the Dolphins in Miami on a Monday night -- that was the game Correll Buckhalter had that crazy upside-down touchdown -- then lost to the 49ers at home on a Sunday before beating the Redskins the following Saturday.

But that was three games in 13 days. This is three in 11 days, and that’s something they’ve never done in franchise history.

“We obviously had to make an adjustment this week,” coach Chip Kelly said. “When you play a game on Sunday, and you have to come back and play a game on Thursday, that's the one that really adjusts your schedule, just because you only really have three training days.

“You have Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and you have to go play a game. We adjusted the schedule. We were out [at practice] yesterday. ... No one is out on the practice field training the day after a game. But we had to yesterday. Now we're trying to get into two days before the game mode.”

But practices have been shorter and recovery time longer the last few days.

“You’ve got to do extra recovery, ice tub, hot tub, the whole protocol,” Thornton said. “You definitely have to stay off your feet as much as you can during the week.”

The short week might not be the most hyped storyline this week -- Andy Reid’s return to Philly is (see story) -- but it might be the most important storyline.

Whichever team deals the best with the short week will have a big advantage.

For the record, Reid was 3-2 on Thursday nights during his 14 years with the Eagles, although the last two were blowout losses -- 31-14 in Seattle in 2011 and 34-13 at the Linc last year.

After the Eagles were forced to play Seattle on the West Coast on a Thursday night after a home 4:15 p.m. Sunday game, the NFL’s competition committee decided that East Coast teams wouldn’t be asked to play four days later on the West Coast.

The Chiefs are looking for a 3-0 start under Reid, but the Eagles are coming off a disappointing 33-30 loss to the Chargers in their home opener.

“For anything, for me, the short week makes you focus in a lot more because you know your time is short,” Ryans said.

“You have to focus in a lot more, you have to be studying, you have to try to get your rest, but you have to be locked in even more so this week because you don’t have time to waste.”

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