Running Diary: Eagles Practice Observations

JaCorey Shepherd (Jeff Fusco)

JaCorey Shepherd (Jeff Fusco)

Here’s what we saw during the Eagles’ first training camp practice of 2015.

11:56 – First off, congratulations to everyone for making it here. We got past the nonsense of June and July, and football season has finally arrived.

The Eagles celebrate the occasion with Justin Bieber’s Where Are You Now. Judge me all you want for this, but I don’t hate it.

On to football. All eyes are on Sam Bradford at the start of practice. Replacing the bigger, bulkier brace on his left knee is a black sleeve. It looks like the kind you buy at CVS when you turn 30 and realize an hour of pickup hoops now causes various aches and pains.

But Bradford participated fully today, and by my count, he took every snap in every drill with the first team. So that seems like a sign of progress. Read more »

Chip Leftovers: On Measurables, Howie And the Fans

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

Here are three leftovers from our pre-training camp session with Chip Kelly.

1. We’ve written at length in this space about the Eagles’ focus on measurables when it comes to scouting. Prior to the draft, Ed Marynowitz went into detail about the organization’s three-pronged approach. One thing he mentioned is that the Eagles want their backups to look like their starters.

That’s something Kelly expanded on when we spoke with him.

“I think that just shows you have a plan,” Kelly said. “I think some people just grasp at straws when all of a sudden you have a 6-6, 250-pound quarterback backed up by a 5-10, 175-pound kid that’s a run-around guy. I think you’re trying to get people that fit into your system, and that’s why you have height and weight and speed parameters that fit your system.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: OLB Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We’ve covered the quarterbacksrunning backswide receivers, tight endsoffensive line and defensive line so far. Today, we’ll take a look at the outside linebackers.

The pressing question: Will Marcus Smith contribute?

We’ve addressed this question several times already, but it’s a big one going into training camp. Smith was a first-round pick and barely played (68 total snaps) as a rookie. The start of his second season featured a groin injury that limited Smith in the spring.

Late last August, Billy Davis said he’d know by the start of Year 2 whether there were serious concerns about Smith making it. He’s in position to be a contributor as the No. 3 outside linebacker, but it’ll be a big red flag if Smith can’t hold off Travis Long for that spot. Read more »

Eagles DL Training Camp Preview

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We’ve covered the quarterbacksrunning backswide receivers, tight ends and the offensive line so far. Today, we’ll take a look at the defensive line.

The pressing question: Will Vinny Curry play more snaps?

Last year, Curry was on the field for 32 percent of the Eagles’ defensive plays, yet he still managed to total nine sacks.

Digging deeper, Billy DavisChip Kelly and company clearly viewed Curry as a pass-rush specialist. Per Pro Football Focus, on the snaps he played, Curry rushed the passer 80.9 percent of the time. The Eagles like to stay in base quite a bit, and they want their three main defensive linemen to be two-gappers. In other words, Curry is not going to challenge for a starting spot. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: QB Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We’ve covered the running backswide receivers, tight ends and the offensive line so far. Today, we’ll take a look at the quarterbacks.

The pressing question: Will there be a legitimate QB competition during camp and the preseason?

The answer is yes. You’ll hear some suggest that Chip Kelly didn’t give up a second-round pick and Nick Foles to pay Sam Bradford $13 million as a backup quarterback. And in a general sense, that’s true. The Eagles acquired Bradford to be the starter.

But as we’ve discussed before, Kelly’s entire operation is based on competition, and if Mark Sanchez clearly outperforms Bradford in August, he’ll be the one getting the nod in Week 1 against the Falcons. It really is that simple with Kelly.

“I think it’s always an open competition,” Kelly said last month. “You still have to go out and earn your jobs. If Sam throws 14 interceptions and Mark throws 14 touchdowns, I can’t sit there and tell the team that Sam’s going to start and Mark’s not going to start. It doesn’t work that way.” Read more »

On Murray, Mathews And the Stretch

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

In 2014, Eagles running backs totaled 415 carries; 312 of those (75.8 percent) went to LeSean McCoy.

Chip Kelly and Duce Staley had some other options in Darren Sproles and Chris Polk, but ultimately they relied on McCoy, who had the second biggest workload in the NFL.

Based on the Eagles’ offseason moves, the plan seems to be different this year. DeMarco Murray still figures to be the primary ball-carrier, but with Ryan Mathews in the mix, Kelly thinks the Eagles will have a potent one-two punch.

“If you have multiple backs, you don’t lose anything when you take one out, and I think we probably relied on one too much in the last couple of years,” he said. “But I have great confidence in those other guys that when they go into the game, you don’t have to change what you’re doing. Ryan and DeMarco are very similar in terms of how they run and what they’re doing, so it’s almost like you think you catch your breath when you take DeMarco out of the game, but then here comes Ryan. That’s gonna be a real difficult task for people, I think.” Read more »

Kelly: We Weren’t Close Last Year

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports

On Thanksgiving night last year, the local fan base was feeling pretty good about its football team.

The Eagles had just hammered the Cowboys 33-10, and with a 9-3 record, the playoffs seemed like a near certainty.

But even at that point, Chip Kelly says he already knew the team had holes that needed to be addressed. The Eagles lost three of their last four, but per Kelly, it wasn’t just that final stretch that led to the dramatic offseason changes.

“I knew we had to get better as a team,” Kelly said during a session with reporters last month. “And I think in this league, it’s almost year to year. Teams don’t stay up or down, either way. …And I didn’t feel we were close at the end of the year.

“10-6, not going to the playoffs, is just like being 4-12.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: O-Line Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We’ve covered the running backs and wide receivers so far. Today, we’ll take a look at the offensive line.

The pressing question: Are the Eagles OK at the guard spots?

The Birds are in a strange situation with their offensive line. On one hand, it’s conceivable that they’ll finish the season with three Pro Bowlers up front in Jason PetersJason Kelce and Lane Johnson. Peters and Kelce have already proven themselves, and Johnson has a chance to take the next step in his development.

On the other hand, even if those three guys play well, this could be a mediocre unit overall because of who will be lining up at the two guard spots. Read more »

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