Last month, Chip Kelly sat down with reporters and offered insight into how he plans on running his first training camp in the NFL.
“It’s going to be the same thing we did here,” Kelly said, referring to OTAs and mini-camps. “It’s not like we’re going to drastically change from what we did. If we did, then basically, we’re kind of full of crap on what we did in the whole offseason. It’s more of the same in terms of what our approach is.”
The major difference, of course, will be that the players will have pads on. And there will be an added intensity with roster cuts and the preseason right around the corner.
Below is a breakdown of what to expect.
Rookies report to the NovaCare Complex on Monday, July 22, and their first practice is July 23.
The full team reports on Thursday, July 25, and the first full-team practice is Friday, July 26.
The first preseason game against the Patriots is Friday, August 9.
Rosters must be trimmed to 75 players by 4 p.m. on August 27. And then again to 53 by 6 p.m. on August 31.
Click here for the full training camp and preseason schedule.
Kelly must balance a couple factors when deciding how physical he wants his camp to be. On one hand, he’s stressing competition and wants players to know they’re fighting for jobs and playing time. On the other hand, he’s well aware that this is just the beginning of a long season, and he wants his guys healthy when the real games start.
“That’s the big Catch-22 for all coaches, is how much work do you need to get done, but also you don’t want to injure your own players in practice,” Kelly said. “But that’s kind of a fine line. It’s the toughest one I think coaches have to handle. How physical can your practices be, because the game is certainly going to be physical. But you always kind of keep your fingers crossed that you’re not going to get anybody hurt in practice.”
In college, Kelly had scrimmages, but no preseason games. He indicated that seeing how players react in full-contact situations against other opponents will factor significantly in making roster decisions.
“If you can’t be physical and hit people, then it’s an entirely different game,” he said. “So the offseason is an entirely different game than the preseason, just for that fact.”
Asked if there will be tackling to the ground during training camp, he said, “We’ll have some scrimmage situations.”
The guess here is that Kelly’s camp won’t be as physical as Andy Reid’s, but he’ll pick his spots to push players.
Kelly made the decision to hold camp in South Philly instead of Lehigh.
“I just think we have everything here, so the fact that we would pack everything up and move, I think that didn’t make sense to me,” he said. “All our video stuff is here, so … all our [internet] servers are here, so you’re dealing with portable laptops and hoping to get practice on them. You have issues when it rains, where do you go? Our training facility in terms of how we want to lift … why would you move everything and go somewhere else?”
Part of the reason Reid held camp at Lehigh was to build camaraderie among the players, who were stuck with each other during every waking moment. Here, all of the players will stay in a nearby hotel together at the start of camp. The veterans will then be allowed to move back out and stay with their families.
All of the meals will be eaten at the NovaCare Complex.
“Meetings are here. Everything’s here. The only thing they’re going to do at the hotel is sleep,” Kelly said.
The main practice each day will take place at 12:30 p.m.
“That’s when we play,” Kelly explained. “Twelve or 14 of our 16 games are played at 1 o’clock.”
A reporter jokingly asked Kelly if he’d practice in the evening before night games, but the head coach answered seriously. It was clearly something he had thought about.
“No, because I think it throws your schedule off a little bit to do that just for one day,” he said. “If we were going to play six or seven games consecutively at that time, we would try to change our schedule slightly.”
The actual practices will likely look similar to what we saw in the spring. They will be up-tempo with music playing, and the goal will be to maximize reps. Most of the one-on-one teaching will take place in the classroom.
“If you stop one guy in a drill, then there’s 21 other guys standing around, so how much time can you spend on the field?” Kelly said. “Our educational philosophy is: I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, and I do and I understand. And so we want them doing it. You can only talk so much and show them so much and tell them so much; they have to actually do it.
“When you go to some practices and they only get 15 reps at something and they only ran one play one way just to the left, the right tackle never got a rep at it. And then you expect him to execute it in a game, you know. Who’s to blame? Us, because we didn’t probably put him in that situation. We had a chance to see what just happened to him. We’re trying to get as many reps as we can and then be efficient with cutting our practice tape up, so that when we go into our meetings usually what they did well you don’t have to repeat that because they have it.”