Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelly Calls Veterans, Explains Picks

It would be natural for veteran Todd Herremans to wonder what the selection of Lane Johnson means for his future.

Or for Brent Celek and James Casey to question how the drafting of Zach Ertz is going to impact their roles.

Michael Vick and Nick Foles? Perhaps they were caught off-guard by the selection of Matt Barkley in the fourth round.

With those things in mind, Chip Kelly decided to get out in front of any potential issues. Throughout the offseason, when the Eagles have signed free agents or brought in new draft picks, Kelly has made a point to call the veterans already on the roster and touch base.

“I called everybody,” Kelly said. “I hope this doesn’t get overblown. I called Brent Celek when we took a tight end and James Casey. I called Mike [Vick] and we talked to Jason Peters and we talked to Todd Herremans. It’s just kind of the way we’ve done things. When we signed people in free agency, I called our guys just to make sure they know where we were.”

Kelly said he spoke with Nick Foles and left a message for Vick.

The message throughout has been the same: He wants to emphasize competition and make sure every player knows he has a chance of earning playing time.

“We don’t run a dictatorship, we don’t run a democracy, we run a meritocracy,” Kelly said. “If you merit playing time, then show us in practice that you merit it, show us in preseason games that you merit it, and we’ll put you on the field.”

He wasn’t making a big deal out of the gesture, but simply answering a reporter’s question. Yet it’s another sign of the Eagles doing things a bit differently as they embark on a new journey with a new leader. Kelly has brought several changes to the NovaCare Complex, and part of the challenge he faces going forward will be getting all the players to buy in.

Of course, coming off a 4-12 season, the players who were here last year don’t really have a lot of leverage. The ones I’ve spoken with are embracing the changes. Then again, it’s only April, and the true test will come when things get a little rocky.

Still, Kelly’s approach should garner some good will.

“I’m really big on open communication,” he said. “I don’t want there to be gray areas.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Rounding up what Peter King and others thought about the Eagles’ draft. Grades range from an A- to a D.

T-Mac assesses the Eagles’ safety picture now that Earl Wolff is in the mix.

Howie Roseman and the personnel staff created a template based on Kelly’s preferences. One goal was to get bigger on defense.

Reviewing the Eagles’ draft, pick by pick.

What does the Matt Barkley pick say about Kelly? Tim examines.

The Eagles made it official, agreeing to terms with nine undrafted free agents and releasing TE Evan Moore.

Tim and I will both be contributing to a really cool product called Eagles Almanac. It will be a comprehensive guide to the 2013 season with several outstanding contributors who you’re already familiar with. Click here for details and to pre-order your copy.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Former Pro Bowl tight end Brent Jones has done a lot of work with new Eagle Zach Ertz. Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com caught up with Jones:

“The way the game’s being played now, the way tight ends are being used, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Zach surpasses all my numbers before he’s done,” Jones said. “I know he’s the best tight end in the country, and he’s going to have a tremendously successful career.

“But what I’d really love to see is Zach help the Eagles win a Super Bowl. That would be great to see. Coach [Chip] Kelly has had success wherever he’s been, and he’s got a great young man in Zach. I think he’s a perfect fit for what coach Kelly wants to do.”

Ray Didinger looks at Barkley’s journey from high school to USC to Philadelphia:

Talking to scouts in recent weeks, there was a wide split of opinion on Barkley. His performance tailed off last season and he suffered a shoulder injury that put him on the shelf late in the year. He didn’t throw at the Combine and when he did workout for the scouts last month, he got lukewarm reviews. Most said Barkley was fine on the short and intermediate throws, but when he went deep, the ball often hung in the air.

COMING UP

Thoughts on the QB situation and more draft reaction.

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