Chip Kelly met with the media this afternoon before the Eagles returned to practice. Here are three things that stood out.
1. The only players that are not practicing today are wide receiver Josh Huff (shoulder) and offensive lineman Matt Tobin (ankle). Huff had been handling kickoff return duties, but that job will now go to Nolan Carroll II (assuming Huff doesn’t play Sunday).
Asked why Carroll fits over guys like Darren Sproles, Kelly said: “The way we’re doing things from a return standpoint, I think the way Nolan hits things, he really fits in terms of what our blocking scheme is right now. But you’ll see Darren back there. You asked me who the first guy is, that doesn’t mean he can’t be on the second kick. Brandon Boykin could be back there. Brad Smith could be back there. We’ve got a lot of guys that have returned kickoffs.”
Carroll has not returned kicks since 2010. That year, he averaged 24.26 yards per return, which ranked 16th in the league.
2. Kelly seems to have grown tired of the kicker questions. Alex Henery lost his job during the summer, and the Eagles will roll into Week 1 with rookie Cody Parkey.
Asked if he’ll have a short leash with Parkey, Kelly said: “I don’t have another kicker, so it’s not like we’re gonna put the No. 2 guy in. He’s gonna kick. …I’m thinking about today. He’s gonna go. You can be the doom-sayer and worry about the negative part of it. I’m worried about being positive, and let’s go. He’s our kicker.”
There’s no doubt the kicking game warrants plenty of attention – especially early in the season. The Eagles didn’t address it back in the spring (aside from signing Carey Spear) and are now left to cross their fingers and hope that Parkey comes through.
To the rookie’s credit, he booted a couple of 50+ yarders in the final preseason game and looks like he has a strong leg.
The truth is, there aren’t a ton of options out there. Unless he’s a complete disaster during the first few weeks of the season, Parkey will likely be the guy.
3. There is an alternate universe in which the Jordan Matthews hype this summer could have been Marqise Lee hype.
The Eagles had high grades on both receivers and wanted to get their hands on one of the two when the second round started. The Jaguars snagged Lee with the 39th pick, and the Eagles traded up to take Matthews three spots later.
“He was on our board,” Kelly said. “Very talented kid. We were really, really high on Marqise, had a very, very high grade. I saw him up close and personal in the times we played USC. He had a great knack for the deep ball, does a great job adjusting to it.
“He’s an unbelievable competitor. Any ball that’s thrown, he really thinks is his. And he’s got a great mentality from it. Really fun kid to be around, has a great work ethic. I think everybody at USC still just raves about him as a practice player. He’s everything you want. Excited to compete against him because I know what type of player he is. He put up some very good numbers on us so hopefully we can shut him down a little bit better in the NFL than I did in college.”
In a 2012 game, Lee caught 12 balls for 157 yards and two touchdowns against Kelly’s Oregon squad.
Many (including yours truly) thought the Eagles might take Lee with the 26th pick once they traded back. Instead, they went with Marcus Smith II, banking on the possibility that they’d be able to move up to get a receiver in the second round. And that’s what ended up happening.