Changes Under Kelly: Smoothies, Music And Heart Monitors

As Vinny Curry headed towards the locker room after the Eagles’ second mini-camp practice, there was a snack waiting for him in the hallway.

“Mango, peanut butter and banana,” explained the second-year defensive end.

Post-practice smoothies are just one of many changes these days at the NovaCare Complex. In previous years, players would be tossed Gatorades as they walked off the field. Now, lined up along several tables sat custom-made smoothies with each player’s name written on the plastic cups.


There were other snacks too, like Greek yogurt, fruit and Kashi bars.

"They’ve got a lot of healthy things where once you’re done working out, you’ve got to replenish your body," said tight end Brent Celek. "Otherwise, it’s just going to keep breaking down, so I like it."

It's all part of Chip Kelly's program, and a signal that things are going to be done a little differently going forward.

For example, players are wearing heart monitors underneath their uniforms.

"They want to make sure our performance level stays level, instead of going down," Trent Cole said. "We want to stay level or just go up. And they’re going to tell us that. They’re going to tell us, 'Hey, you need to do this or you need to do that.' They’re just helping us out. They want us to be at our best."

Other changes include sleep monitors, re-arranging the locker room and music during practice.

Kelly chooses the songs, Curry explained. "His playlist is pretty cool. I’ll give him that."

"Love it," said tight end Brent Celek. "Makes it fun. When you’re not out on the field doing actual plays, it just keeps you going, keeps you interested in what’s going on out there. You’ve got some background music. It’s like sitting in a nice restaurant, and you have background music when you're not talking to the person sitting next to you."

Kelly said earlier this offseason that athletes optimally need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep, but Cole explained that each player has been given custom sleep tests and recommendations.

"I was looking at all the testing stuff, and they said a guy like me, I like to go out there and I push hard, I need like eight to nine hours of sleep or more," he said.

Kelly drew attention when he introduced his staff back in February and announced Shaun Huls as the sports science coordinator. While the team has only held two practices, the indication is that things couldn't be any more different under the new regime.

The question of whether everyone will buy in is likely to come up often over the next several months. But early returns have been positive. Cole, who has been with the franchise since 2005, recognized that change can be a good thing.

"When you come from having a season like we did last year, the Eagles, you can tell, they wanted change when they made all their changes and new coaches and new players," he said. "There’s nothing wrong with change. Coming off a season like that, it’s just great to have a new start and a fresh start, a new atmosphere. Everything’s brand new. I feel like my rookie year being here right now."

Added Celek: "He [Kelly] always says he’s going to work us, and he does work us when we’re out there, but he also takes care of us. When we need rest, he give us rest. When we need nutrition, he gives us food. So from that standpoint, he’s giving us everything we need to succeed and he takes care of all those aspects. There’s no complaining. You can’t be like, ‘I’m tired. I’m not getting enough rest.’ He thinks about all that stuff."

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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