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While the rest of the Eagles' rookies and selected veterans participated in the first practice of training camp Tuesday, rookie free agents Matthew Tucker and Brad Wing were off to the side working out on their own.
They weren't practicing. Instead, they were running -- running sprints in preparation for their next conditioning test. Both were placed on the non-football injury list Tuesday morning because they failed Monday's test (see story).
“Your goal in life is to play in the NFL and you have to pass a conditioning test to play in it," head coach Chip Kelly said after practice. "So the ball is in their court.”
Considering Kelly’s practices are run at a breakneck pace, it’s crucial that the rookies pass.
"If you can't get through a conditioning test, how do you expect to get through one of our practices?” Kelly said.
"It's really a health thing. So we'll put somebody out there that we think is ready to go, and all of a sudden, if he can't function through practice, now he's falling down and hurting somebody else. It's more of a preventive thing.
"We're talking about passing at a minimum standard -- not qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team."
What does the test consist of?
"It's a series of sprints with rest time in between, and it varies by position," Kelly said.
Tucker said he had to run 20 60-yard dashes. To pass, he simply had to complete them.
"That's it," Tucker said. "When I finish it, I'll be out there."
Wing, a 22-year-old punter out of LSU, believes nerves may have factored into his failed test.
“There’s no excuses at all," he said. "I completely take full responsibility that I should have passed the test. It was nothing crazy. I probably should have did it, but I was a bit anxious and excited to go and didn’t get a good night’s sleep the night before."
For a punter to fail is one thing. But a running back?
"I just gotta get to work hard and get back with the team," Tucker said. "It is a disappointment."
Kelly said the two will have another chance to pass Thursday when the veterans report to camp and are tested.
Tucker, who rushed for 2,602 yards and 33 touchdowns over four seasons at TCU, is the lone running back who reported early. LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Felix Jones and Chris Polk will arrive Thursday.
In a crowded backfield, Tucker’s odds of capturing a roster spot just got slimmer than they already were.
Wing also faces an uphill battle. The other punter on the roster is nine-year veteran Donnie Jones, who averaged 47.2 yards per punt last season with the Texans, a mark that ranked 11th in the league.
Both Tucker and Wing were visibly winded as they worked out on the far left field at the NovaCare Complex on Monday, and for good reason. When asked what the coaches had them doing, Wing said, “pretty much the conditioning test times three or four. They’re just trying to get us ready.”
“All I can do is go out and do it again and pass it the next time,” Wing said.