Andy Reid found value in bringing his team to the quiet hills of Bethlehem, believing that it promoted team bonding. The Eagles continued making the trek each summer as more and more teams around the NFL opted to stay at home. The question now is whether Chip Kelly will have a different method of thinking than his predecessor.
The Eagles are under contract with Lehigh University through 2013, but have not yet committed to holding training camp there this summer.
“I can share that we are eager to hear the plans of the organization in light of the coaching change,” said Lehigh Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett in an email Monday. “We’ve been sensitive to the priority of getting a staff together and then preparing for and being away at the combine. I expect that plans for mini-camps and camps will be resolved soon so that final preparations for the draft can occur without the stress of other matters. For now, we wait.”
The number of teams going away for training camp is dwindling. Last year, only 13 of the 32 clubs held training camp on a college campus. In most cases, their own facilities are superior to the ones that they will find at the universities. Why pay someone else when there are better amenities at home?
Kelly is big on efficiency and maximizing practice time. One issue with Lehigh is that their indoor facility is not conducive to holding meaningful practices in. If it rains, the Eagles have been limited to walk-throughs. At the NovaCare, they can simply retreat to their bubble and proceed as planned for the most part.
There are advantages to staying at home but it comes at a cost, as fans would be largely cut out of the equation. You can have a few fan-friendly sessions at the Linc, but the NovaCare is not equipped to hold open practices. Training camp can provide an intimate setting for team and fan base. Much of that will be lost if it is held in Philly.
Asked for an update Monday morning, a team spokesman only offered: “Nothing new.”
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