Wake-Up Call: Cast Off, Kendricks Ready To Rock

 NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Mychal Kendricks
said the time away this offseason was good for the mind, body and soul. He spent some time catering to each.

As for the mind and soul, the third year linebacker said he spent the month of March in the Sedona, Arizona area getting zen.

“Some real meditation,” said Kendricks. “It’s old Indian land — a reservation — out there. It was cool, man. It was cool.”

Kendricks posted some photos on his Instagram recently that showed him among the red rocks. More notably for football purposes, it also showed him with a cast around his left arm.

The injury dates back to last season. The 23-year-old explained at the Eagles 18th annual playground build Monday that he had loose tendons in the thumb area, and was placed in a cast for about a month to “let everything tighten up in there.” He was unsure exactly how much of the season he played with the condition, but said it didn’t necessarily bother him or affect his performance. The cast is off now and the thumb apparently is no longer an issue.

With the hand immobilized for a good chunk of the offseason, Kendricks spent a lot of time  on the conditioning element of his game and believes he will be faster this year. He also said he focused on strengthening his core “so when I wrap up and tackle I won’t miss as many tackles as I did last year.”

Thought that was interesting. According to Pro Football Focus, Kendricks was tied for first among inside linebackers in missed tackles with 21 last season. It’s an  area of his game that could obviously be improved upon.

What he lacked in polish last season he made up for in ability. Kendricks was second on the team in tackles (137) and added four sacks, six hurries, three interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Recouped and refreshed, the 6-0, 240-pounder is hoping to take the next step in 2014.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The latest draft rumor has the Eagles linked to Johnny Manziel. Chip Kelly says that Manziel broke his heart when he chose Texas A&M over Oregon.

“It adds up to us.” Kelly talks about DeSean Jackson‘s release for the first time.

Jeffrey Lurie also spoke about the move. “So I think with Chip, I just give him the benefit of the doubt.”

Sheil takes a stab at how the Eagles have their top 10 receivers ranked. 

Of all the Oregon prospects coming out, defensive lineman Taylor Hart might be the most likely to end up in Philadelphia, Kapadia writes.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski says that replacing Jackson’s explosive plays will be nearly impossible.

[I]ncluding the playoffs, all 26 of DeSean Jackson’s receptions of 20+ yards led to at least a FG attempt. On drives in which Jackson had a 20+ yard reception, the Eagles eventually scored 17 touchdowns, kicked 7 field goals, and missed 2 field goal attempts, for a total of 141 points. In other words, the Eagles scored 30.3% of their total points last season on drives in which DeSean Jackson made an explosive play. All he does is catch long passes that lead to touchdowns.

Ever since he was cut, coping without DeSean Jackson has been framed in terms of replacing his 82 catches, 1332 yards, and 9 TDs. That may be replaced by another player or a combination of players in time, but there isn’t a receiving weapon on the roster, as currently constructed, who can come close to matching Jackson’s explosiveness.

In his latest mock draft, Chris Steuber has the Eagles selecting Marqise Lee in the first round and Stanford OLB Trent Murphy in the second.

By addressing the wide receiver position and missing out on Barr with their first-round pick, the Eagles need to focus on defense with most of their remaining picks. Finding an impact pass rusher who can get after the quarterback and create havoc should be the main objective with this selection, and Murphy, while not possessing the athletic prowess of Barr, is a consistent force off the edge.

At 6-foot-6, 261 pounds, Murphy is a hard-working, physical defender who has tremendous pass-rushing skills and a non-stop motor. He needs to improve on his cover skills, but with the work ethic and maximum effort he displays, that aspect of his game will get better.

COMING UP

More takeaways from our time at the Eagles’ playground build.

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