Chip Kelly was asked last week how he felt about Earl Wolff being slowed by an injury during his rookie season.
“How did I feel about it?” Kelly responded. “I was sad because Earl was coming, you know.”
The Eagles’ safety had an up-and-down rookie campaign. His phenomenal athleticism was evident, but Wolff made his share of first-year mistakes. A right knee injury (hyper-extension) lingered, and he was unavailable down the stretch.
Now Wolff finds himself in position to make the second-year leap. Malcolm Jenkins seems like a lock for one starting safety spot. The other one is up for grabs between Wolff, Nate Allen and rookie Ed Reynolds. The team also signed Chris Maragos during free agency, but he’s considered more of a special-teams asset.
We’re only in May, and the job will be won or lost in August, but Kelly likes what he’s seen out of Wolff so far at the NovaCare Complex.
“I think the statement – and more than one person has made to me – it looks like we have the old Earl because he’s flying around right now,” Kelly said. “So I don’t know if he’s… sometimes the injury is a little more severe than was expected. We didn’t think it was going to be as long as it was, and I’ll give him a ton of credit because he worked his tail off to try to get back out there. But it just didn’t respond the way we had hoped it would respond. But the guy that’s been here since April 21st, Earl’s been flying around.”
There were rumblings last year that the training staff had given Wolff the go-ahead to play, but that he felt like he couldn’t make it happen.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it was that,” Wolff told Birds 24/7 at the time. “It might have been something similar to that. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to play, I just felt like if I would have went out there, I wouldn’t have been able to play my game. I would have been thinking about it. Not to say that I would’ve messed something up — I trust them in the training room — but just to a point to where I just wouldn’t have been able to play my game and make the plays that I can make, and I could have possibly hurt our defense more than helped.
“I understand that at this level you have to battle through injuries and being hurt and try to play, but I feel the position I play it’s kinda tough, man. I feel like maybe if I played a different position maybe I would have had a chance to do something. They really wanted me to come back. And don’t get me wrong, I wanted to come back more than anybody, I wanted to come back out there and play with my teammates and basically help us win.”
Kelly was asked whether there was ever a question about Wolff playing injured.
“No, not at all,” he said. “We legitimately just watch him work out. There was a difference between him being able to run full speed. Because when Earl runs full speed and jumps full speed, you can tell. He was definitely injured. So there was no question from us at all.”
Wolff has been putting in work for about three weeks during the offseason program. There’s still plenty to prove, but he’s on the right track in convincing the coaching staff that he deserves to crack the starting lineup.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Three Howie Roseman leftovers, including how he knew Taylor Hart would be available in the fifth round.
“I watched him and couldn’t fall in love with him,” says one personnel man on Marcus Smith.
T-Mac takes a look at the Eagles’ backfield situation without Bryce Brown.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
James Franklin talked to the Daily News about his former player Jordan Matthews:
“You’re talking about the all-time leading receiver in SEC history, career and single season. And you’re talking about a guy that everybody knew in that league that we were going to try to get him as many touches as possible and they still couldn’t stop it. He had 10 to 12 catches a game.”
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz thinks Roseman had a good weekend:
I think Howie Roseman just had his best draft yet, in terms of how he handled the situation. He got creative at times. He was aggressive at some spots and conservative at others. He didn’t wheel and deal for the heck of it. He made calculated moves that landed players the Eagles wanted. We know this because the Eagles showed interest in all of these guys before the draft. All but Huff made a visit to Philly, and obviously he and Kelly already had a strong relationship.
Some notes on the Kelly/Roseman dynamic.