Kelly: No Favoritism Towards Ex-Oregon Players

0V3J8539Of the 61 spots on the Eagles’ roster (practice squad included), five are occupied by guys who played their college ball at Oregon.

Today, Chip Kelly was asked if his familiarity with the former Ducks can help him build his program with the Eagles.

“If we were gonna sing the Oregon fight song, it would,” Kelly joked.

“Besides that, I’m familiar with them and I know what they do, what Jeff [Maehl] can do as a special-teams player. I know what Casey [Matthews] can do as a special-teams player. I was with Pat [Chung] for a year. Isaac Remington’s a kid that we brought in. We moved him to the offensive line just before we released him. The other guys that we released on the offensive line are not practice-squad eligible. So we think he’s got an upside as an offensive lineman. We’re gonna take a look and see what he can do.”

Maehl, Matthews and Chung are all on the 53-man roster. Remington and defensive lineman Brandon Bair were added to the practice squad.

Maehl was acquired from the Texans and made the squad over undrafted free agent Russell Shepard and veteran Greg Salas. Matthews made the team in favor of Emmanuel Acho.

Asked specifically what role his familiarity with Maehl and Matthews had on his decisions, Kelly said: “None. It’s about special teams. Every backup player on this team, and we’ve said it since Day One, there’s three ways to make this football team: special teams, special teams, special teams. So it’s where did they contribute from a special-teams factor.

“If you’re gonna be the fourth or fifth receiver, and right now that’s Damaris [Johnson] and Jeff [Maehl], it’s the value that they have to Coach [Dave] Fipp and our special teams. And it’s the same thing: Why did we keep three [backup] inside linebackers as opposed to one backup outside linebacker? It’s how those three players contribute on special teams, and that’s kind of where it was. That’s why we made the move to get [Najee] Goode from Tampa Bay. It’s the same thing.”

Kelly had an interesting comment when explaining why he kept five inside linebackers instead of OLB Chris McCoy.

“Right now, at our outside linebacker spot, we had a lot of rush guys, not a lot of drop guys,” he said. “The one drop guy we had was Connor Barwin, so to keep a third rush guy… we kept Vinny [Curry]. We kind of look at Vinny, could play in that spot for us if possible. But to keep another rush guy that’s not contributing on teams just wasn’t gonna help us.”

Of course, Trent Cole and Brandon Graham have been practicing as rush/drop guys all preseason long. Perhaps Kelly’s response suggests they’re not going to be in coverage much once the regular season begins.

ALLEN TO START AT SAFETY

Nate Allen will start opposite Chung at safety Monday night.

Asked how he came to that decision, Kelly said: “Film evaluation, games played, production so far for the preseason camp and OTAs.”

But he also added that rookie Earl Wolff is “pushing” Allen and will see playing time Monday night. Whether he and Allen will rotate is unclear.

“We’ve just got to get him in the game,” Kelly said.

INJURY UPDATE

Offensive tackle Dennis Kelly (back) is officially out for Monday. Cornerback Brandon Hughes (hand) is likely out, although that’s not final. And tight end James Casey (hamstring) is practicing with the team today.

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Dennis Kelly Still Has A Ways To Go Before Return

The last time we spoke with Dennis Kelly, he said that he hoped to be back on the practice field around the start of the regular season and was “very confident” that he would avoid being placed on injured reserve.

On Tuesday he said he was “pretty confident” that the IR is not in his future. And it looks like his return date is still a ways off.

Kelly, who had back surgery to repair an L2 disc earlier this month, said he will be re-checked by doctors on September 16. He could be cleared to return to football-related activities then.

Currently the 6-8, 321-pound tackle is able to do some cardio and a little bit of agility work. The big thing will be regaining strength and getting back into football shape. Even if there are no setbacks, that could take some time.

Chip Kelly was asked about the injury factor when it comes to piecing the 53-man roster together.

“Big,” he said. “When can they come back?  There will be a consultation with our doctors.  When can we expect them?  Is it back Week Three, is it back Week Eight?  All of that has to go into the final decisions of who is playing 53.”

Beyond Kelly, the backup tackles currently vying for roster spots include Allen Barbre, rookie Michael Bamiro, Matt Kopa and Matt Tobin. Certainly they wouldn’t mind having Kelly in the mix. It’s just a matter of when they think he can get back and contribute in a meaningful way.

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Camp Notes: Foles Trying To Bounce Back

Nick FolesIf there is a positive spin to put on Nick Foles‘ two preseason turnovers, it’s that both were promptly followed by touchdown drives.

In the opener against the Patriots, Foles was hit from behind as he was trying to pass on his second play from scrimmage and coughed up the football. His next time up he engineered a 10-play, 62-yard drive that Bryce Brown capped with an eight-yard burst up the middle for the score.

Thursday against Carolina, Foles was interecepted by Josh Thomas in the back of the end zone on the opening possession. On the next series he scrambled for the seven-yard touchdown run.

“In both instances in two weeks in a row which I learned from Nick, he can bounce back from an adverse situation.  Not that you ever want to be in one but at least you kind of know how he’ll be,” said Chip Kelly.

Mistakes are magnified in a tight quarterback competition, especially when you have so few snaps to go off. Michael Vick has been sharper in his two preseason appearances and looks to have the inside track to win the job. Turnovers, like the one Foles surrendered on Thursday, can cost you.

“It’s definitely tough when it happens, but you just sort of know that your teammates are looking to you because you’re gonna go back in there,.” said Foles. “The first thought in my mind when I got to the sidelines was I can’t wait until we get the ball back. I cannot wait to go in and get that ball in the end zone. So there’s a fire right there. You never want that to happen. It does. And you’ve just got to bounce back from it.”

Foles said that he and Vick split first-team reps Sunday. Only the first half-hour of practice is open to the media now, so we don’t know if it was a 50-50 share or not. On Saturday, Vick got the bulk of the work with the first team.

Does Foles still have a chance to be the starter?

“My mindset is I’m gonna work as hard as I can. My ultimate goal always is to play,” he said. “That’s my ultimate goal. I’m gonna work towards that. I’m not changing anything.”

Dennis Kelly update

I caught up with offensive tackle Dennis Kelly outside of the NovaCare Complex Sunday. He is still walking gingerly following surgery earlier this month to repair the L2 disc in his back . He said he is “very confident” that he will not be placed on injured reserve. And while he acknowledged that being ready for the opener is a long shot, he is thinking that he might be back on the practice field around then.

That seems like a pretty quick turnaround following back surgery. Kelly, though, says modern technology has cut down the recovery time.

New Role For Remington

Isaac Remington  turned his white No. 61 jersey in for a green 52 on Sunday, as the former Oregon defensive lineman worked with the O-line at practice. The undrafted free agent is probably a long shot to make the 53-man roster.

Injuries

Curtis Marsh (broken hand), Felix Jones (oblique), Danny Watkins (concusion), Emil Igwenagu (concussion),   Kenny Phillips (quad) and Casey Matthews (knee) sat out practice once again Sunday.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: OL Training Camp Preview

Each day this week, we’ll take a look at a different position group as we count down to training camp.

What’s changed?

Howard Mudd is out, and Jeff Stoutland is in. The new offensive line coach is hoping this group can avoid the injuries that helped turn 2012 into a disaster.

According to Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Games Lost metric, no offensive line in the NFL over the last 11 years suffered more devastating injuries than last year’s Eagles. Jason Peters was lost in the spring, while Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans also went down with season-ending injuries in Weeks 2 and 9, respectively.

Peters and Herremans were full participants during OTAs and mini-camp. Kelce is on track to be full-go for training camp.

With the pieces around him going down week after week, Evan Mathis turned in what was probably his best season as a pro in 2012 and has been the Eagles’ most consistent/durable offensive lineman during the past two seasons.

And finally, the Birds added Lane Johnson with the No. 4 overall pick to take over at right tackle.

The pressing question: How good will Johnson be as a rookie?

The words Chip Kelly used when talking about Johnson back in April were raw and upside.

Historically, those terms haven’t described players ready to step in and contribute right away at a high level.

Johnson has been playing football his whole life, but he was a quarterback for a long time, before getting a shot at tight end and defensive end at Oklahoma. In all, he has two full seasons of offensive line play under his belt – one at right tackle, one at left tackle.

There would seem to be a decent chance that Johnson might struggle as a rookie, before eventually turning into a really good player. But if something clicks right away, and Stoutland figures out how to take advantage of his athleticism, the Eagles have a chance to field one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

Don’t be surprised if…

Danny Watkins fails to start a game all season. The 2011 first-round pick started six games in 2012 before suffering a “chronic” ankle injury. Even when he was healthy, he lost his spot to journeyman Jake Scott.

The Eagles don’t have a lot of line depth, and Watkins should make the team, but he’s unlikely to play a prominent role. Herremans has slid from right tackle to right guard, and Mathis has the left guard spot locked down. In a recent interview with Mike Kaye of Bleeding Green Nation, Mathis was asked for an under-the-radar lineman to keep an eye on.

Allen Barbre is, at the very least, a starting caliber offensive guard,” he said. “If we were to lose a guard to injury, I’d be totally confident with him filling in.”

Barbre saw some first-team reps during the spring, and clearly, he’s made an impression with teammates. If the coaches prefer Barbre to Watkins, the 2011 first-round pick could be a healthy scratch on gamedays to start the season.

Roster battles to watch

If everyone’s healthy, the starters are pretty much set: Peters (LT), Mathis (LG), Kelce (C), Herremans (RG), Johnson (RT).

But like last year, depth is a major question. At tackle, Dennis Kelly is on track to be the first backup, and with Herremans always an option to move back outside, the Eagles have some flexibility there. Beyond Kelly, there are a bunch of unknowns: Matt Kopa, Ed Wang, Nic Purcell and Matt Tobin. The newest Eagle, Michael Bamiro, will have a chance to land one of the last spots on the roster.

At guard, Watkins and Barbre seem like the favorites to land backup jobs. But others like Nate Menkin, Matt Tennant and Julian Vandervelde have a chance to compete for spots.

At backup center, the options are Tennant, Dallas Reynolds and Kyle Quinn.

WHAT YOU MISSED

I offered five thoughts on the Eagles’ QB situation.

Here’s our linebacker training camp preview.

And more on Bamiro, the 6-8 offensive tackle the team is expected to sign today.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

In an Allentown Morning Call piece, Jimmy Kempski says he thinks Nick Foles has the edge over Michael Vick:

The issue for Michael Vick, however, is that he is coming off two turnover-filled seasons. Not helping matters is that he was outplayed by Nick Foles in OTAs and minicamp. Foles got the ball out quicker than Vick, was generally more accurate, and is putting receivers in a better position to get yards after the catch.

Tra Thomas talked to the Daily News’ Les Bowen about Bamiro:

“I think he’s a solid athlete, someone that kind of fell through the cracks,” Thomas said Tuesday. “He has large hands, he bends well. We worked on both right and left stances; he’s coachable.”

COMING UP

More Kelly leftovers coming up.

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Which Eagles Will Make the Second-Year Leap?

Hang around enough NFL coaches and players in the offseason, and you’re sure to hear about the second-year leap.

The theory goes like this: Rookies need time to adjust to several different factors. The structure and rules associated with a college program are gone. They are on their own, away from friends and family. And they are earning (legal) paychecks.

Add in the speed and talent associated with the pro game, and it’s clear life in the NFL requires an adjustment period.

That’s why the offseason from Year 1 to Year 2 is considered crucial. Initial questions have been answered, and expectations have been set. Second-year players can focus more on just on-field improvement.

“It’s already easier,” said linebacker Mychal Kendricks during mini-camps. “It’s crazy, knowing the formations and knowing the count without even having to look.

“Everything slows down the second year. It’s crazy, I can’t explain it.”

We’ve spent plenty of time talking about the Eagles’ new additions, and Tim covered the rookies a couple days ago. But below is a look at the second-year players and where they stand going into camp.

Fletcher Cox – Everything we saw from him as a rookie suggests he has the potential to go to multiple Pro Bowls. Cox was the Eagles’ best defensive lineman against the run and showed improvement as a pass-rusher, finishing with 5.5 sacks and 24 hurries (according to team stats). When the Eagles drafted him, they liked that Cox had the versatility to play in a 4-3 or a 3-4. He’s the Eagles’ best defensive player and one of the guys they will build around.

Nick Foles – With six starts under his belt, Foles has already accomplished more than most quarterbacks taken after the second round. He had turnover issues (five interceptions, eight fumbles) and struggled to get the ball downfield (6.4 YPA), but at the very least, he looked competent. Foles now finds himself in a new scheme, and Chip Kelly is serious about letting the QB competition play out on the practice field. Foles will have a chance to steal the starting job this summer.

Mychal Kendricks – His athleticism translated well from college to the NFL last season. Kendricks faced some issues getting off of blocks but showed signs that he can be a playmaker against the run. Where his real strength lies, though, is coverage. Kendricks is expected to play alongside DeMeco Ryans as an inside linebacker in the Eagles’ new 3-4 scheme. Look for him to have to deal less with blockers in his face. Kendricks rushed the passer quite a bit in college, and Billy Davis will seek to find ways to take advantage of that versatility.

Brandon Boykin – Given how often teams use three and four wide receivers, Boykin is a valuable piece as the Eagles’ nickel corner. Even as the defense was crumbling around him, Boykin was tremendous during the second half of last season. In the Eagles’ final seven games, he allowed just five completions on 12 targets, per Pro Football Focus  (hat tip to Derek Sarley of Iggles Blog). There’s been some talk of Boykin moving to the outside, but the guess here is that he’ll continue to fill the nickel role.

Bryce Brown – Fumbling issues aside, the Eagles look like they may have gotten a steal with Brown in the seventh round. As a rookie, he ran for 564 yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry, showing a rare combination of size and speed. Evan Silva of Rotoworld had a good breakdown of Brown and concluded that he bounced too many runs to the outside. Given his lack of college experience (and college coaching), Brown might be poised to make the biggest leap of any player on this list.

Cedric Thornton - He played 37.7 percent of the defensive snaps last year and has the size (6-4, 309) that Kelly covets. Thornton figures to play the 5-technique DE spot in the Eagles’ 3-4. He lined up as a starter for most of the spring, but will have to hold on to that spot this summer.

** Note: As a reader pointed out, Thornton is actually a third-year pro, although he didn’t play a defensive snap in 2011.

Vinny Curry – His role remains a mystery. Curry had a tough time getting on the field as a rookie and now finds himself being asked to play up front in a 3-4. During the spring, Curry ran exclusively with the second team. He’ll need to show the coaches he can be effective in his new role if Curry wants to get more playing time in his second season.

Damaris Johnson – He played 25.4 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps and finished with 19 catches for 256 yards. But there is reason to believe Johnson could be a nice fit for Kelly’s offense, considering he averaged a team-best 5.5 yards after the catch in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. Johnson also showed improvement as the team’s primary punt returner. Beyond DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, no wide receiver is guaranteed a spot. But Johnson has a good chance of sticking.

Dennis Kelly – He was up and down in 10 games as a rookie, gaining experience at both guard and tackle. At times, Kelly showed promise. In other instances, he looked like Demetress Bell. But the new coaching staff seems to like him. Kelly filled in with the starters this spring before Lane Johnson made the jump. Given the team’s lack of offensive line depth, Kelly will likely earn a spot as a swing tackle.

Chris Polk – In this offense, the third running back figures to have added importance. If LeSean McCoy or Brown goes down, the Eagles will need a backup who can play significant snaps. Polk will challenge for that role, along with Felix Jones and undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker. Polk didn’t play a single offensive snap in 2012, but has dropped weight and is motivated to get on the field. He’ll have to earn a roster spot this summer.

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Projected Depth Chart: Eagles’ Offense

We went over the defense yesterday.

Here is the projected depth chart for the Eagles’ offense, based on what we saw during spring practices. Explanations below.

 
First Team
Second Team
Third Team
QBMichael Vick/Nick FolesMichael Vick/Nick FolesMatt Barkley
RBLeSean McCoyBryce BrownChris Polk
LTJason PetersDennis KellyEd Wang
LGEvan MathisDanny WatkinsNate Menkin
CJason KelceDallas ReynoldsMatt Tennant
RGTodd HerremansAllen BarbreMatt Kopa
RTLane JohnsonDennis KellyMatt Tobin
TEBrent CelekZach ErtzJames Casey
WRDeSean JacksonDamaris JohnsonGreg Salas
WRJeremy MaclinRiley CooperIfeanyi Momah
WRJason AvantArrelious BennRussell Shepard

Quarterback: You can view it as a cop-out, but really this is the most accurate way to rank them. Vick and Foles split first-team reps at every practice I attended. I know some people charted overall reps, but that can be a bit deceiving. For example, if a quarterback throws a 50-yard touchdown on the first play of a drill, he generally comes off. That’s only one rep, but it’s a successful one. The same thing happens if the quarterback throws an interception.

Expect Vick and Foles to continue the back-and-forth well into the preseason. Chip Kelly wants to see how each guy responds when faced with the possibility of getting crushed by an opposing defensive player. He has plenty of tape to go off of, but Kelly needs to see how each quarterback handles the new concepts he and his coaching staff have implemented.

Barkley appears to be a clear No. 3 at this point, but I’m not ready to rule anything out.

Kelly has said consistently that the competition will play itself out on the field, and the best performer will be named the starter. His track record at Oregon suggests that’s one of his core beliefs and not just lip service.

Settle in. I wouldn’t expect a winner to be announced until close to that Week 1 matchup against the Redskins.

Running back: McCoy and Brown both figure to see plenty of action in this offense.

Behind them, Polk, Felix Jones and undrafted free agent Matthew Tucker will be competing for roster spots. Polk has dropped weight from a year ago and seemed to be ahead of the other two during spring practices.

Jones provides versatility and could have a leg up if he can be effective as a returner and stay healthy.

Since the Eagles don’t have a fullback on the roster, they could potentially keep four running backs.

Wide receiver: This was a tough one. You’ll notice that the depth chart I’m using features “11” personnel, or one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers.

Avant is a difficult player to evaluate in this scheme. He doesn’t have exceptional size or speed, but he catches anything near him and is the toughest receiver on the roster. Avant is also someone who can set an example for younger players. He’s already taken Sheppard under his wing this offseason.

Benn is not exclusively a slot receiver, even though I put him behind Avant. He was a disappointment in Tampa, but has a versatile skill set. Benn’s chance to prove himself will come in the summer when the pads are on. He’s probably the best blocker among this group.

Cooper and Johnson return from last year’s squad and will have to earn spots. Johnson improved throughout the course of his rookie season and showed the ability to make plays after the catch. He’s also in the mix as a return man. Cooper didn’t do much when given the opportunity to start last year, but he has good measurables and is only 25.

Sheppard looked good during the spring, and Momah’s size (6-foot-7) is intriguing.

This is a crowded position with players with different skill sets. We’ll find out a lot about what Kelly is looking for from his wide receivers after the roster is trimmed down to 53.

Tight end: The depth chart here is a bit misleading. By all accounts, the Eagles are expected to use a lot of two tight-end sets under Kelly. I still think Celek will play the most snaps this season, but he could be on the field with Ertz or Casey quite a bit.

Ertz missed spring practices because of the NCAA graduation rule. And Casey spent several practices on the bike, following arthroscopic knee surgery .

Left tackle/right tackle: Peters has drawn glowing reviews from coaches and teammates, and Johnson has taken over as the starting right tackle.

Kelly looks to be the favorite to be the first backup at both spots (which is why he’s listed twice). He doesn’t appear to have a lot of competition.

Left guard/right guard: Mathis missed time with an ankle injury, but returned last week. Herremans makes the switch to right guard from right tackle.

In terms of depth, Barbre and Watkins are vying for the first backup guard spot.

Center: Kelly has praised Kelce for being in the building rehabbing all offseason. The third-year center is coming off of ACL surgery, but participated in team drills for the first time last week. He’s expected to be fully cleared by training camp.

The backup spot is up for grabs. Reynolds and Tennant are both in the mix.

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Eagles Depth Chart Outlook: Offensive Line

This is the eighth in a series. Click here for the earlier depth chart posts.

Football Outsiders uses a metric call Adjusted Games Lost to measure injuries.

Here’s their definition:

Measurement of the cost of injuries, both in terms of missed games and games where players were not able to play to their full potential. Estimates a number of games based on whether players are listed as Probable, Questionable, Doubtful, or Out.

They break it down by position and recently found that no offensive line in the last 11 years (that’s as long as they’ve tracked the metric) suffered more devastating injuries than the Eagles last season.

The unit that was a strength in 2011 turned out to be a disaster in 2012, after injuries to Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans, along with a lack of depth.

Peters has looked good during spring practices, and Herremans has been a full participant. Kelce has been a partial participant, but is expected to be full-go for training camp. And Evan Mathis suffered an ankle injury, but should also be fine for training camp.

The Eagles didn’t make any major free agent moves with this group, but they used the No. 4 overall pick on Lane Johnson.

If everyone is healthy, the starting lineup will likely look like this: Johnson (RT), Herremans (RG), Kelce (C), Mathis (LG) and Peters (LT). But there are depth spots up for grabs.

Here’s a look at all of the offensive linemen:

 
Height
Weight
Age
Years/Starts
Allen Barbre6-4310285/7
Todd Herremans6-6321308/100
Lane Johnson6-6310230/0
Jason Kelce6-3295252/18
Dennis Kelly6-8321231/10
Matt Kopa6-6310262/0
Evan Mathis6-5302318/53
Nate Menkin6-5300241/0
Jason Peters6-4328319/97
Nic Purcell6-6305270/0
Kyle Quinn6-3290230/0
Dallas Reynolds6-4320292/14
Matt Tennant6-4300263/0
Matt Tobin6-6290220/0
Julian Vandervelde6-2300252/0
Ed Wang6-5315261/0
Danny Watkins6-3310282/18

Pencil ‘em in: Peters, Mathis, Kelce, Herremans, Johnson.

The question for Peters is the Achilles’, which he injured and then re-injured last offseason. But the five-time Pro Bowler indicated that he could have played at the end of the 2012 season if the Eagles were in the hunt for a playoff berth. Instead, he’s had extra time for rest and rehab. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said recently that you’d never know Peters had an injury with the way he’s practiced.

Peters missed the most recent OTAs because of a personal matter, but is expected to be in attendance at this week’s mini-camp.

Mathis was the last man standing on last year’s offensive line. Some thought he might get exposed without Peters by his side, but that wasn’t the case at all. Mathis’ 2012 campaign was probably better than his 2011 run. Assuming his ankle is healthy, Mathis should be a consistent performer at left guard.

Chip Kelly has spoken glowingly about the work Kelce has put in this offseason to get back from an ACL injury. The third-year center has the athleticism to thrive in Kelly’s system.

After two years at right tackle, Herremans moves back inside to guard, where he played from 2006 to 2010. Herremans played well at tackle in 2011, but he’s admitted that last year was a different story. The veteran struggled through the first eight games before suffering a season-ending foot injury. Herremans is 30 and will once again be asked to make a position switch, but he’s shown his versatility in the past and should be fine.

It’ll be interesting to see this week whether Johnson is running with the first team at right tackle. He got the nod there last week, but that was in part because Peters was missing. Kelly described the Eagles’ first-round pick as “raw” but in all likelihood, he’ll be a starter when the season begins against the Redskins.

Fighting for a spot: Kelly, Watkins, Reynolds, Barbre, Kopa, Menkin, Purcell, Quinn, Tennant, Tobin, Vandervelde and Wang.

If the Eagles keep eight or nine linemen on the 53-man roster, that means three or four players from this group will make the team.

Two of the favorites are Kelly and Watkins. Kelly gained some valuable experience last year, starting three games at guard and seven at tackle. He had some moments early on where he impressed, but towards the end of the season, he turned in some completely disastrous performances.

Having said that, the new coaching staff has given him plenty of reps at right tackle with the first team in place of Johnson and at left tackle with Peters out. The swing tackle position is an important one, and Kelly doesn’t seem to have much competition right now. It seems reasonable to expect him to improve in his second season and earn a roster spot.

We’ve written plenty about Watkins in this space. He’s shown very little in his first two seasons, but believes the coaching change could help him reach his potential. The truth is, barring injury, there’s not a starting spot open for him. Watkins’ job this offseason will be to prove to Kelly and Stoutland that he’s the best backup option at guard.

There are a lot of unknowns with the rest of the group. Barbre was a fourth-round pick by the Steelers in 2007, but he was suspended last offseason for the use of performance-enhancing substances, and the Seahawks ended up releasing him. Barbre has been getting some first-team looks though and could compete for a backup job.

The Eagles will also have to come up with a plan for a backup center. Reynolds was the man last year and has a chance to win the job again. Quinn and Tennant are the other centers on the roster. Vandervelde has been getting some looks there. And don’t forget that Mathis had to learn the job last year.

Kopa, Tennant, Tobin and Wang have all seen time with the second team.

As I mentioned, plenty of spots up for grabs. And if the Eagles decide they don’t like the talent on the roster, they could always look to make additions to address depth in the coming months.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Depth Chart Leftovers

Chip Kelly has warned repeatedly not to draw any depth chart conclusions in May.

And he has a point.

Practice is about getting players acclimated to the offensive and defensive schemes. Reps, reps and more reps.

Having said that, there were a few surprises on Monday, the first time practice was open to the media.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the positions of note.

Quarterback: As T-Mac explained yesterday, it was a mixture of Michael Vick and Nick Foles with the first team. Jeremy Maclin said last week that Foles was “sprinkling” in with the starters, but I’d say it was a little more than that. There were clearly defined portions of practice where Kelly wanted Foles running with the starters. In other words, we are where we thought we were. It’s open competition, but Vick is still the favorite.

Right tackle: Instead of No. 4 overall pick Lane Johnson running with the first team, it was second-year player Dennis Kelly. This one seems pretty close to meaningless. Johnson hasn’t had much time in the program and got on the field with the second team. If this doesn’t change by August, we can discuss it more. But the truth is, it will probably change by next week.

Outside linebacker: Trent Cole and Connor Barwin ran with the first team, and Brandon Graham played with the twos. As we’ve talked about previously, Graham was easily the team’s most productive pass-rusher last year. But the coaches have to figure out what Graham and Cole are capable of as they make the switch from defensive end.

“With the outside linebackers, they have to be able to rush the passer, set the edge and drop into coverage, but we need to evaluate them rushing the passer, setting the edge and dropping into coverage, so that’s what this whole process is about,” Kelly said.

Don’t get me wrong. This is clearly an area to watch. But I believe Kelly when he says they need to figure out what they have in Cole and Graham right now as outside linebackers.

Cornerback: Curtis Marsh joined Bradley Fletcher with the first team. But that’s because Cary Williams just got married and is on his honeymoon. I’ll be surprised if Williams isn’t the starter when the season begins.

Marsh didn’t show much under the previous regime, but he’s 6-1 and ran a 4.46 40 coming out of college. Maybe Kelly and his staff are encouraged by the tools they have to work with.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Inside a Chip Kelly practice with what I saw, heard and observed.

Full details on the QB competition from T-Mac.

DeSean Jackson sounds like he plans on being the Eagles’ punt returner.

The Eagles depth chart outlook series continues with a breakdown of the defensive line.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

According to Paul Domowitch of the Daily News, Donovan McNabb will retire as an Eagle during the team’s Week 3 matchup against Andy Reid and the Chiefs:

McNabb confirmed Monday on his radio show on NBC Sports Radio that he will be retiring as an Eagle in September. He said the team has suggested doing it on the 19th when Reid, the man who selected him with the second overall pick in the 1999 draft, will be there.

The Eagles have not yet made an official announcement, and did not return a message asking for a comment.

Bo Wulf of PhiladelphiaEagles.com has the full playlist from Monday’s practice:

You’ve read all about it. You’ve seen the tweets. Heck, if you live close enough in South Philadelphia, you might have even heard it with your own ears. We’re talking, of course, about the blaring music at Eagles practice under head coach Chip Kelly.

Throughout practice, save for the occasional “teach” session, the players and coaches conduct business with loud music in the background. Kelly’s use of music during practice dates back to his time in New Hampshire and he says, “There’s a lot of science behind it.”

COMING UP

Plenty more to get to from OTAs.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Offseason Primer: Eagles Offensive Line

In the next couple of weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position, player-by-player look at the Eagles’ roster. Today, we break down the offensive line. If you missed yesterday’s post on the wide receivers, click here.

YEAR IN REVIEW

Jason Kelce – Coming off a promising rookie campaign, Kelce suffered a knee injury in the second game of the season against the Ravens. Considering his game is based on his athleticism, we’ll have to monitor his rehab progress in the spring and summer. But barring any major setbacks, pencil Kelce in as the starting center in 2013.

Evan Mathis – He didn’t make the Pro Bowl, but the veteran left guard turned in the best season of his career. That’s impressive, considering he was playing with a rotating cast of characters next to him at center and left tackle. Mathis was the only Eagles offensive lineman to start every game last season. He played at a high level and will continue to provide stability next season.

Danny Watkins – Things went from bad to worse for Watkins in his second season. He started six games before being sidelined with what Andy Reid called a “chronic” ankle injury. Even when Watkins got healthy, he was kept off the field in favor of journeyman Jake Scott. According to EaglesCap.com, the Eagles would be on the hook for $2.15M if they cut Watkins before next season. The question is no longer: Will he live up to the expectations of a first-round pick? It is now: What role can he play on your roster? Perhaps Chip Kelly thinks Watkins is still salvageable. Maybe he’ll peg him as a backup. Or maybe he’ll get rid of him altogether.

Jason Peters -He first underwent surgery in April, but Peters re-injured his Achilles in May and had to have a second surgery. In 2011, Peters was sensational. Even if he gets back to 75 percent of the player he was, you probably have yourself an above-average left tackle.

Todd Herremans – His injury occurred on November 5. Herremans sustained a dislocated bone, some fractures and torn ligaments in his right foot. Back in December, he said he doesn’t anticipate missing OTAs or mini-camps. Herremans’ 24 starts the last two seasons have come at right tackle. But the truth is, he was not playing well at that spot last year before getting injured. There’s a possibility he gets moved back inside to guard (more on that below).

Dallas Reynolds – Like the rest of the backup offensive linemen, he got his chance and struggled. Reynolds was out of practice-squad chances and ended up starting 14 games. You can’t fault his effort, but the Eagles will likely look to upgrade its offensive line depth before 2013.

King Dunlap – He started 13 games last year and was up-and-down. Dunlap certainly had his share of issues, but he’s a career backup so any assessment has to be based on a fair set of expectations. Going forward, the guess is that the Eagles will sign or draft someone with higher upside. Dunlap is a free agent. Remember, the Eagles showed no interest in signing him last year until Peters went down in the spring.

Jake Scott – He’s also a free agent. Scott started seven games and played OK. He’ll turn 32 in April and started 112 straight games from 2005 to 2011. If I’m the Eagles, I’d at least explore the possibility of bringing him back as a reserve. In the end, though, they might just opt for someone younger who can be developed.

Dennis Kelly – Initially thought of as a project, Kelly ended up starting 10 games as a rookie. The fifth-round pick saw action at guard and tackle, performing better at the latter. He had some good moments sprinkled in, but struggled quite a bit. Perhaps that was to be expected. Kelly will have to compete for a roster spot as a backup this offseason.

Demetress Bell – The Eagles were aggressive in signing Bell after the Peters injury, but he turned out to be a disaster, starting just four games all season. His days in Philadelphia are over.

Other guys who are on the roster but didn’t see significant action last year: Matt Kopa, Nate Menkin, Matt Reynolds, Matt Tennant, Julian Vandervelde.

LOOKING AHEAD

On paper, this unit actually has a chance to once again be a strength if Peters, Herremans and Kelce all come back healthy.

Tim wrote recently about what Kelly is looking for out of his offensive linemen. I recently spoke to Kelce, who said he’s had numerous conversations with the Eagles’ new head coach and likes what he’s hearing.

“I’m pretty excited about the whole situation in general because I’m very familiar with the spread style of offense I think he’s probably going to institute,” Kelce said. “I did a lot of that in college. Basically, in my opinion, it makes an offensive line’s job just so much easier. I’m excited about everything, and once they get a coach in here, I’ll be excited to see what he says.”

There are still a lot of unknowns about what Kelly is going to do offensively. And he’s yet to name an offensive line coach. If he plans on bringing his up-tempo attack to the NFL, the offensive linemen will have to be in great shape. That’s especially important this year with three of the five starters potentially coming off of injuries.

From a personnel standpoint, the key question is: Where will Herremans play? I touched on this above, and some have pointed out previously that Herremans is making tackle money. But he’s due to make $4.3M next season, according to EaglesCap.com. That doesn’t seem to be an unreasonable amount for an above-average guard. Mathis is scheduled to make $4M. And Ben Grubbs has a base salary of $5.2M.

In other words, I don’t think this will be a financially-based decision. There are some highly-rated tackles in April’s draft, such as Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher and Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson. All are expected to be first-round picks. If Howie Roseman deems one of them the best player available when the Eagles pick, he shouldn’t hesitate with his choice.

As for free agency, there are some intriguing names out there like Denver’s Ryan Clady and Cincinnati’s Andre Smith. But both players are expected to stay put. Other free-agent options include Chiefs tackle Branden Albert, Dolphins tackle Jake Long and Bills guard Andy Levitre.

While I’m sure the Eagles will explore all their options, I’d be surprised if they made a huge splash on the offensive line in free agency. That could change if one of the injured players suffers a setback in their rehab, but otherwise, the plan will likely be to add a veteran or two for depth and build through the draft.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Cheat Sheet: 15 Things About Eagles-Redskins

Here are 15 things to know about how the Eagles match up with the Redskins.

1. As always, we start with draft positioning. If the season ended today, the Eagles would have the fourth pick in the draft. The top two spots are pretty much locked up with the Jaguars and Chiefs both at 2-12. The Raiders, Eagles and Lions are all tied at 4-10, but Oakland has the edge for the third pick with an easier strength of schedule than the Birds. According to Football Outsiders, the Eagles have a 34.2 percent chance of landing a top-three pick. The Raiders have a 44.6 percent chance. Oakland takes on Carolina Sunday afternoon, while Detroit hosts Atlanta Saturday night.

2. The Redskins are fifth in the league in scoring offense, averaging 27.2 points per game. Football Outsiders has them sixth overall – sixth in passing and fourth in rushing. The Eagles are 26th in scoring defense, allowing 26.8 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 22nd – 26th against the pass and 12th against the run. The Eagles have played much better  on ‘D’ the last two weeks since making changes up front. Last week, all of the Bengals’ scoring drives started in Eagles territory.

3. According to the Washington Post, Robert Griffin III will get the start, barring any setbacks. Griffin achieved a perfect quarterback rating against the Eagles the first time around, completing 14 of 15 passes for 200 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. In the first six games with Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, opposing quarterbacks were completing 76.3 percent of their passes against the Birds. In the past two, that number is just 44.3 percent. Griffin is one of five quarterbacks (Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo) who has attempted at least 300 passes and completed at least 66 percent of his attempts. Griffin’s thrown 18 touchdowns and four interceptions. Only Rodgers (104.7) has a higher QB rating than Griffin (104.2). Overall, opponents are completing 59.7 percent of their attempts against the Eagles (12th) and averaging 7.4 yards per attempt (tied-20th).

4. The improvement for the Eagles has started up front. The Wide-9 is not completely dead. As we’ve shown with the All-22, the defensive ends are still lining up outside the tight end throughout the course of the game. But Jim Washburn’s concept of rushing upfield on every play is gone. Brandon Graham turned in his best game as a pro last week against the Bengals (10 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 3 QB hurries). In his last three games, Graham has 20 tackles, four sacks and seven hurries. He figures to have a favorable matchup in this one. Redskins right tackle Tyler Polumbus has given up a team-high 39 QB hurries and seven sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. He’s questionable after suffering a concussion last week. If Polumbus can’t go, Graham will get a shot at backup Maurice Hurt or rookie sixth-round pick Tom Compton, according to the Washington Times.

5. Fletcher Cox has had an outstanding rookie year. In the first meeting with the Redskins, he had a season-high eight solo tackles (10 total) and a sack. In the last two games, Cox has 2.5 sacks and three hurries. Only three defensive tackles – Geno Atkins, Ndamukong Suh and Henry Melton - have more sacks than Cox (5.5) on the season. Redskins center Will Montgomery suffered an MCL sprain last week, but practiced all week and is probable. Trent Cole will match up with left tackle Trent Williams, who’s having an outstanding season. Cole was shut out (no sacks and no hurries) in the first meeting between the teams.

6. The Redskins may adjust their offense to account for the fact that Griffin’s coming off of injury. The rookie ran 12 times for 84 yards against the Eagles in the first meeting. Griffin leads all quarterbacks and is 20th overall with 748 rushing yards. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Rookie Alfred Morris is third in the league in rushing with 1,322 yards. He’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Only Arian Foster (325) and Adrian Peterson (289) have more carries than Morris (280). In the first matchup, the Eagles kept Morris in check, as he averaged just 3.8 yard per carry on 20 attempts. Overall, the Eagles are allowing 4.1 yards per carry – tied for ninth. DeMeco Ryans has been good all year. He has 109 solo tackles. Only Quintin Mikell and Brian Dawkins (111 each) have had more in a single season under Andy Reid. Mychal Kendricks has played well in his new spot at the WILL the last two weeks.

7. There have been a couple factors associated with the Eagles’ improving pass defense the past two weeks. Perhaps the most glaring is that because of the changes up front, the safeties don’t have the same responsibilities in the run game. That has led to less confusion in the secondary. Colt Anderson has provided an upgrade at safety with 19 tackles the last two games. Todd Bowles’ comment about Anderson this week was interesting.

“His biggest strength is knowing his weaknesses and playing off of that,” Bowles said. “He’s just been a pleasant surprise the past two weeks.”

You can see that on tape. Anderson sometimes plays REALLY deep, but he hasn’t let receivers get past him. The Bengals did not have a single pass play longer than 19 yards last week. Kurt Coleman will return from injury and team up with Anderson this week. Nate Allen has been benched.

8. Pierre Garcon has given the Redskins’ passing game a lift since returning from injury. He has 23 catches on 38 targets in the last four games and is averaging 85 yards per game in that span. In the first meeting, Santana Moss came down with a jump-ball between Brandon Boykin and Kurt Coleman for a 61-yard touchdown. And Aldrick Robinson ran free for a 49-yard bomb on a blown coverage. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha have both experienced up-and-down seasons. Asomugha indicated during the week that he could be willing to restructure his deal to stay.

9. Offensively, the Eagles rank 29th in scoring, averaging 18.1 points per game. Football Outsiders has them ranked 25th – both in passing and rushing. The Redskins are allowing 25 points per game (23rd). Football Outsiders has Washington ranked 18th – 15th against the pass and 14th against the run. In the first meeting, the Eagles managed just two field goals on 11 possessions. Six points tied their lowest output of the season.

10. Nick Foles gets his sixth straight start. He’s completed 59.4 percent of his passes, averaged 6.24 yards per attempt and thrown five touchdowns vs. four interceptions. Foles has shown the ability to slide away from pressure and make plays downfield. He’s also gotten rid of the ball quickly for the most part. Foles has had some accuracy issues, specifically on deep balls. He’s 4-for-23 on attempts that travel more than 20 yards, according to Stats, Inc. Opponents are completing 61.9 percent of their attempts against the Redskins (tied-16th) and averaging 7.5 yards per attempt (25th). Foles completed just 45.7 percent of his attempts in the first meeting, but I counted five drops and five balls thrown away. He averaged just 4.4 yards per attempt in that contest.

11. The Eagles offensive line has struggled the past two weeks. The Redskins have just 25 sacks on the season, tied for fourth-fewest. Ryan Kerrigan has 6.5, but Dennis Kelly did a pretty good job against him in the first meeting. Kerrigan has also batted five balls at the line of scrimmage, per Pro Football Focus. Outside linebacker Rob Jackson has three sacks in his last three games and 4.5 on the season. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield gave Dallas Reynolds a lot of problems in the teams’ first meeting. Jim Haslett blitzed Foles a lot in that game, and he didn’t handle it particularly well, going 9-for-21 for 92 yards.

12. It hasn’t helped Foles that he’s been playing with so many backups. There were instances last week where he just had nowhere to go with the football. This week, he’ll get LeSean McCoy and Brent Celek back. Jeremy Maclin has 13 catches for 177 yards in his last two games. The Redskins are vulnerable in their secondary with cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. Washington has allowed 53 pass plays of 20+ yards, fourth-most in the league.

13. Bryce Brown averaged 8.1 yards per carry in his first two starts, but just 1.4 in his next two. He’s fumbled four times on the season. McCoy returns for the first time since suffering a concussion in the final two minutes of the Eagles’ loss to the Redskins on Nov. 18. Andy Reid said he’s going to monitor McCoy’s usage, and Marty Mornhinweg said the running back could be on a play count. The Redskins are allowing 4.2 yards per carry (tied-13th). In the first meeting, McCoy had just 45 yards on 15 carries. He failed to pick up more than 9 yards on any single run. Trent Richardson had just 28 yards on 11 carries last week vs. the Redskins. But Ray Rice had 121 yards on 20 carries the week before.

14. The Eagles and Redskins rank 25th and 26th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ special-teams rankings. The site has the Eagles’ punt/punt coverage unit as the worst in the NFL. On average, opponents are starting drives against the Eagles at the 31.65-yard line. That’s the worst mark in the league. On the flip side, the Eagles are starting drives at their own 25.16-yard line, which ranks 27th.

15. The Eagles are eighth in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns 48.98 percent of the time. The Redskins are 10th in red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns 57.45 percent of the time. …The Eagles’ offense has been terrible in the red zone, scoring 45.45 percent of the time (27th). …The Redskins have the worst third-down defense in the league, allowing conversions 44.39 percent of the time. …The Eagles are a -22 in turnover differential. No other team in the NFC is worse than a -9.

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