In exactly three weeks the rookies will report to the NovaCare, signalling the start of Chip Kelly‘s first-ever training camp with the Eagles. Here’s what to expect when the curtain is lifted later this month:
The set-up of the practices will be very similar to what we saw this spring.
“It’s not much different than minicamp except we’ll have pads on for a certain amount of it, and maybe it will be a lot more physical than what it’s been in the minicamp sessions,” said Kelly at the end of the offseason training program. “Our practices are right around the same time frame, kind of set up the same exact way. So it’s not like it’s a radically different thing when you go to training camp. So we’ll walk in the morning, and the days we’re allowed to have double days, we’ll have some of them but not a ton of them. We really get into games pretty quick. But we only have a week and a half before we have to start playing games and then we get into game weeks.”
The pace will remain swift and the music loud. The practices will start at 12:30 and run about two hours, like at minicamp. The big difference, obviously, is that the pads will be on and cracking.
Former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon said that there was very little tackling to the ground during Oregon training camps under Kelly.
“But between college and the pros you have to be able to pick your poison, and I’m sure Chip Kelly will do that,” he said.
There is a fine line between going too hard and too soft. A coach has to weigh injury risk against getting his team properly prepared. You can be sure that Kelly has spent a good deal of time figuring out how to best straddle that line. This is an area where his focus on sports science can come in handy as he attempts to calculate just how hard to push his players, and when to ease off the accelerator.
Kelly has repeatedly stated that he needs to see his team with the pads on before making any meaningful evaluations. He’s going to want to see some popping. But don’t expect it to be quite as intense as Andy Reid‘s first camp back in 1999.
Unless, of course, the players take it to that level themselves.
“When guys are competing for jobs, when it’s a new coaching staff, it’s going to be a physical camp,” Jason Avant told Sheil last week. “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.”
It will be interesting to see how Kelly reacts when tempers flare during training camp. Skirmishes will break out. That’s inevitable. But if a player crosses the line, he’s bound to end up on the coach’s bad side.
Consider what Kelly said at a coaching clinic while still with Oregon:
If a coach tells me respect is an important part of his program, I should see it in practice. If I go to practice and I see a player who takes a cheap shot at another player and no one corrects him, that program has no respect in it.
Danny Watkins was involved in some extra-curriculars one day during OTAs. Kelly went right up to him and grabbed him by the jersey to have a word.
Jason Kelce doesn’t believe that Kelly will have to do too much policing at camp.
“To tell you the truth, when I went no-huddle in Cincinnati, there’s usually less fights,” said Kelce. “I think the reason is because you don’t really have time to perceive what is going on. You don’t really have time to get angry. It kind of sounds weird, but it’s one of the reasons you don’t see a lot of fights breaking out in games because even though guys might get pissed off for a second, they know they have to be back in the huddle for the next play and be ready for the next snap. You don’t have time to process, ‘Hey, this guy did this.’
“There’s going to be a few scuffles like there is in any training camp, but I bet there will probably be a little less.”
Just a few weeks until we find out for sure.
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