Eagles Wake-Up Call: Kelce On State Of the O-Line
The rotating cast at right guard welcomed another member Thursday as newcomer John Moffitt stepped in with the first team.
There have been four training camp practices so far, and we’ve seen three different men fill the position. Matt Tobin has gotten the nod twice, Andrew Gardner ran with the ones on Monday and now Moffitt has had a turn.
No matter who wins out, Jason Kelce will be working with someone new on either side of him. Old partners Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans were both released this offseason, so Kelce is now charged with developing chemistry in short order with a pair of new dance partners. It appears that Allen Barbre will be one of them. He has consistently worked at left guard since the offseason program began and has the backing of his coaches and teammates. Right guard is another story. With no standout at the moment, the musical chairs could continue through the summer. Kelce says he’s OK with that.
“I think that decision has to be made when it’s clear who that best guy is,” he said. “I’m not one who thinks you should rush into a decision just to build chemistry along the unit. Make sure you have the best guy that gives you the chance to win on an individual basis, and the chemistry will build throughout the season. The chemistry will build.”
Moffitt has the most experience of the right-guard candidates, starting 15 games over the course of his career compared to seven for Tobin and eight for Gardner. All of those starts, though, came in his first two seasons (2011-12) as substance abuse issues temporarily sidelined his career. Apparently back on track, the 28-year-old is trying to make the most of his second chance after a year-plus away from football.
“He’s intelligent and [Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] Stout will tell you that first thing,” said Kelly. “I think the first thing that stuck out to us as a staff was how quickly he has picked things up. He’s been in a couple different systems in the National Football League so it’s a matter of transferring it into how we call it, but he has done it before.”
Three-fifths of the offensive front (Kelce, Jason Peters, Lane Johnson) appears rock solid while the two guard spots are question marks (especially right guard). Despite some unknowns, Kelce believes the most critical pieces are in place.
“In my opinion, the two tackles are the most important positions on the field of offensive line play. If you can win at the two tackle positions, you can make up for a lot interior-wise,” he said. “Allen Barbre is a tremendous player, we’ve known that for a long time here. We’re excited that he’s going to get an opportunity to prove that. And we’ll figure that right guard spot out. I’m not worried about that at all.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“I feel like I’m trying to get this offense down a little bit better every day, play a little bit faster, go through my reads just a little bit quicker and get the ball into the hands of the playmakers.” Tim Tebow had a good day at the office.
Eagles practice observations from Sheil: Zach Ertz on the corner route; DeMarco Murray/Kiko Alonso sit out.
“I think it was 21.3 MPH.” Nolan Carroll dominating daily competitions, according to his coaches.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Some practice notes from Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice.
— Malcolm Jenkins has looked like the best slot corner so far. I was impressed with him in one-on-one drills against Jordan Matthews today. Matthews has often been able to get open with regularity this camp, but Jenkins stayed in his hip pocket on an ‘in’ route and batted down a pass. Really well done. Later in practice, he picked off Tebow, which was Tebow’s one bad moment of the day.
— A lot has been made over whether or not Zach Ertz has improved as a blocker this offseason, thus warranting more playing time over Brent Celek. While we probably won’t get a good idea of that until the preseason games, Ertz did have a nice moment as a blocker today. On a WR screen in the red zone, Ertz took out Nolan Carroll, paving the way for Nelson Agholor to score.
Geoff Mosher offers his thoughts after Thursday’s session.
2. Chip Kelly said Sam Bradford’s lower-body mechanics are “fine in terms of the way he’s delivering the football and stepping and throwing,” but Bradford still appears to be arm-throwing and not completely trusting the plant leg. Having such a strong arm compensates but Bradford doesn’t yet look 100 percent confident in every throw he’s making…
11. Don’t be shocked if Coastal Carolina’s Denzel Rice is this year’s Trey Burton — a rookie free agent who makes the team. Kelly said he really liked Rice during the pre-draft process and talked up the D-back’s nose for the ball.
Pat Shurmur will speak with the media at 11:15 before practice.