Wake-Up Call: Eagles Players Gather On West Coast

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

A good number of Eagles gathered in San Diego this week to get some work and a little bonding time in before the start of training camp.

There were 11 team members in all, including Mark Sanchez, Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz, who joined forces to host their own mini minicamp of sorts.

Sanchez has held offseason get-togethers dating back to his New York days — a week that was once known as “Jets West.” This year was more of a collaborative effort, as it was conducted with the help of renowned trainer Todd Durkin and his staff at Fitness Quest 10. Durkin, whose client list includes stars such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees, has been working with Sproles for the past seven years and with Ertz since February. Together, they came up with a comprehensive program for the week.

“Every day they’ve had field work where they’ve been on the field and doing their install,” said Durkin. “After they do the weight room work they go over to the high school and they watch film for about an hour and then we do our warm-up with them and bring them through all their agility and movement stuff, and then Mark leads their install and they do all that.”

Rob Kuestner of NBC 10 was the first to make note of the gathering.

A good number of the players in attendance have Southern California ties, like Ryan Mathews and Seyi Ajirotutu. Matt Barkley was there for a portion of the week as well, Durkin said. Others, like Jordan Matthews,  wandered a little further from their roots to be there.

They are all staying in one house, says Durkin, and travel around together in a white van that he has dubbed the “Eaglemobile.”

“I said all you need now is a green pair of wings on that van and you’ll be set,” he said. “It’s cool, the bonding that is happening. You’ve got the guys driving around in a white van, they’re coming out and laughing and having fun. When it’s go time they’re working their butts off. We’ve got rookies out here, we’ve got guys that are trying to make the club, we’ve got proven veterans that are showing the young guys how to work.”

There is a charitable element to this as well. Fans associated with groups such as the Ronald McDonald House and The Wounded Warrior Project have been brought in to watch the practices and mingle with the players.

With Sanchez getting all this time in with his teammates, the mind drifts to Sam Bradford, whom many presume to be the starting quarterback when healthy. Before too much is made of this, it should be noted that Bradford worked with receivers in an informal setting as well this offseason, and is currently tied to the east coast by and large as he continues his rehab in Philly.

Chip Kelly indicated that there would be a quarterback competition this summer. Sanchez ran the first-team for most of the spring as Bradford recovered from an ACL tear. That, plus the added time this week, can’t hurt as he faces what many view as an uphill climb to claim the starting gig.

“The bottom line is, they’re doing more than most teams out there,” said Durkin. “They’re getting together, they’re watching film, they’re out there putting in installs, they’re going through their reads, they’re going through their different routes, and it’s just been awesome to see the bonding and the hard work that they’re doing.”


Notes on the supplemental draft, DeMeco Ryans and Murray.


Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas was asked: Are the Eagles now better equipped in the secondary to handle Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham and DeSean Jackson?

From the Bryant perspective, I would say no. Of course, I might say no if they added Darrelle Revis as well. To me, the Byron Maxwell signing is a signal of desperation. The Cowboys made a similar signing in 2012 when they paid Brandon Carr $50 million. I get that you’re going to have to overpay in free agency to get players, especially cornerbacks, but I don’t think the Legion of Boom will crater without Maxwell. Bryant is just a nightmare for any cornerback, as is Beckham and to a lesser degree Jackson. The best way the Eagles can handle Bryant is to affect Tony Romo. I thought Fletcher Cox was the best defender the Cowboys played last year. Connor Barwin can be a dangerous pass-rusher too. If those guys up front play better, then that rebuilt secondary will be a lot better.

Reuben Frank offers some thoughts on safety Jerome Couplin.

I don’t want to get too carried away with Couplin, because he’s 23 years old and has already been on three teams in one year. The Bills didn’t like him enough to keep him, the Lions didn’t like him enough to keep him, and the Eagles didn’t like him enough to get him on the field last year when they had one of worst secondaries in franchise history.

But you can’t ignore his tools. He’s got great size, he’s very bright, and he’s got an intriguing skill set. Even though Thurmond got the first-team reps in minicamp, nothing is etched in stone with the second safety spot, opposite Jenkins, and Couplin will get every chance to win a roster spot and a starting spot. Heck, it wasn’t that long ago that an undrafted safety named Quintin Mikell not only became a solid starter for the Eagles but also a Pro Bowler playing opposite Brian Dawkins. And unless you’re sold on Wolff, Reynolds or Thurmond — and I don’t know anybody who is — you’re going into training camp with a huge question mark at safety.


A former Eagles personnel man compares Nelson Agholor to Emmanuel Sanders.