Chip Kelly has preached competition for months now. In late July, when the team returns for training camp, the new head coach will resume the player evaluation process to find the best 53. While he’s certainly conscious of taking care of the players from a health standpoint, Kelly will want to see how they compete with the pads on.
“It has to be in some sorts, especially when you have a new coach,” Avant said, when asked if he’s expecting a physical camp. “I think it’s a tone-setter. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be physical. But at the same time, Coach Kelly is very, very cautious about overdoing things. So we’ll see which angle he’ll take. We don’t know. Hopefully it’s physical because we need that. But yet, at the same time, enough where the guys can recover and recuperate.”
That balance is something Kelly has undoubtedly already spent countless hours sorting out. He made the decision earlier this offseason to move camp from Lehigh to the NovaCare Complex, a move that scored points with many of the players.
“I think it’s a comfort thing,” Jeremy Maclin said. “Chip Kelly’s message was basically: I trust you for 16 games, possibly more, throughout the season. Why can’t I trust you during training camp?
“I think that’s real. I think the guys who are going to screw up in training camp, not going to do what they’re supposed to do, are the guys that you don’t want on your team.”
For the past several years, when national reporters would stop by Lehigh, they would consistently note that Andy Reid ran one of the more physical camps in the league.
Maclin said he’s not sure if that will carry over under Kelly, but he knows the tempo that was introduced in the spring is here to stay.
Avant, meanwhile, expects the physicality to stem from players vying for roster spots.
“When guys are competing for jobs, when it’s a new coaching staff, it’s going to be a physical camp,” he said. “So it needs to be physical. …It’s going to be the nature of the beast when you’re trying to impress coaches for the first time. Guys are going to hit people by accident. So you can’t get mad about it. It’s going to be like that this camp.”