This morning, reporters will once again get a chance to speak with several of the Eagles’ assistant coaches about training camp and the upcoming season.
But there are a couple members of Chip Kelly’s staff who remain somewhat of a mystery.
The first is Kelly’s Chief of Staff, James Harris, who came over with him from Oregon. In his excellent Eagles Almanac piece, Justin Stranzl explains that Kelly leaned heavily on Harris to deal with players’ off-the-field issues.
Last month, Kelly was asked about Harris’ role with the Eagles.
“James is a lot of our scheduling and kind of our liaison for me through our weight room, our training room, what kind of goes on [with] what I call our first floor here,” he said.
Is that different from what he did at Oregon?
“Yeah, a lot different,” Kelly said. “He was in life skills there and started off in nutrition when I first got there as an assistant, and then moved up to life skills and did a lot of different things like that. Here he’s more of an administrator.”
If Kelly’s description of Harris’ duties sounds a bit vague, that’s because Harris apparently is capable of handling a variety of responsibilities.
Here are some examples from a 2011 piece in The Oregonian:
If you’re having trouble with your boyfriend or girlfriend, you can talk to Harris. He’s there to dole out advice on how to manage your money, or what to do when you get homesick. He can talk you through fights with your parents, or frustrations with playing time. James says he plays “messenger to the man in charge” when athletes are too scared to do it themselves. More times than he cares to remember, Harris has had the unfortunate task of guiding an athlete through the death of a family member or close friend. Too many times, he’s had to deliver the news himself.
In that same article, Harris explains that he enjoys handling the intangibles, the things that don’t have to do with game-planning, scheme, technique, etc.
One of the other mystery men on Kelly’s staff went to school at Nebraska with Harris: sports science coordinator Shaun Huls.
In an excellent MMQB story, Jenny Vrentas explored Huls’ role, along with the many changes taking place at the NovaCare Complex:
Monitoring heart rate is another way to gauge training load, as well as how close a player is at any given point of his workout to maximum exertion. The Polar system generates post-workout recovery reports, with a timestamp for when an athlete can next handle more training. Mike Valentino, Polar’s national sales manager for team sports, says a Big East women’s soccer team saw a 75% decrease in soft-tissue injuries during its first season using the technology. And the Omegawave system uses an electrocardiogram transmitter and a pair of electrodes that tap into the central nervous system to measure stress, fatigue and capacity for aerobic or anaerobic exercise. Players can log into their personal computers to check their own fitness profiles.
But data means the most when there’s an expert there to understand and apply it, and that’s where Huls comes in. Says Barwin, “If you’re suddenly more sore than usual, or you start to feel an injury pop up, you can go check with him and see what your numbers look like for that practice, and see why.”
Huls wasn’t made available for the MMQB story, and he hasn’t spoken to reporters since joining the Eagles. The same goes for Harris.
Two men who remain behind the curtain, but are clearly playing major roles in the changes taking place under Kelly.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Kelly brought in a Navy SEALs officer to talk to the team during its ‘High Performance Mindset Meeting.’
The Eagles claimed RB William Powell off waivers from the Cardinals.
An excerpt from my Eagles Almanac article on how we’ll likely see a Steelers’ influence on the Birds’ D.
James Casey shows up early to camp, prepares for “very important” role in Kelly’s offense.
Is Kelly going down the wrong path? One man thinks so.
Click here to purchase the 2013 Eagles Almanac. You will be happy you did. Trust me.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
In a wide-ranging interview with Philly Mag’s own Richard Rys, Donovan McNabb touches on a variety of topics, including that last playoff loss in Dallas:
The air guitar. This is the thing people don’t understand. I brought the air guitar out at training camp. Everybody loved it. Leonard Weaver had the drums, DeSean Jackson was rapping. It was like a band. We were having a good time. When I brought the air guitar out in the playoffs, that wasn’t to throw it in anybody’s face. That was me showing that we’re loose. If we’d have won the game, wouldn’t nobody have said nothing about the air guitar. We’d just lost to Dallas [the week before] because I felt like we came into that game thinking too much of the result. The whole week, it was, Let’s get back to being who we are. Let’s be loose. And people took it—he’s not focused. You can hate me all you want to. When I’m on that field, I couldn’t care less.
Zach Berman of the Inquirer writes that Mike Williams’ new contract is good news for Jeremy Maclin:
This is a good day for Jeremy Maclin, and he’s not even on the field. Here’s why: Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams signed a six-year, $40.25 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. This is a nice contract for Williams, who had a troubled college career at Syracuse but has turned into a productive NFL receiver. Williams had one year left on the deal, and the guaranteed money is comparable to what DeSean Jackson and Victor Cruz received.
Going to be a busy day here at Birds 24/7. We’ll talk to assistant coaches in the morning, and then will catch up with veterans as they report for camp.