Weekend Notebook: G.J. Kinne’s Position Change
After the New York Jets signed G.J. Kinne as an undrafted free agent in 2012, they waived him two months later. Four games into his career as an Omaha Nighthawk later that year, the United Football League ran out of money and the organization folded.
So when the Eagles came to Kinne and talked to him about changing positions before OTAs this season, he didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’m just a guy who’s thankful to be here and will do whatever they want me to do,” he said.
Kinne, who played only quarterback since high school, has practiced mostly at receiver, along with some time at running back. In preseason games, all of his snaps have come at receiver.
One advantage Kinne has isn’t just that he’s played quarterback, but he played quarterback for six different offensive coordinators in five years in college. One of them was Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn.
“I was able to learn a lot of football and it’s helped me here,” Kinne said.
However, he has had his difficulties. He wants to improve beating press coverage by getting better at reading the defender’s leverage and figuring out their coverage responsibilities. He’s also working on simple things he’s never had to do before, like focusing on the football and not taking his eyes off of it until he completes the catch.
Kinne, who dropped 10 pounds so he can keep up with the running at receiver, is practicing his timing as well.
“I’m working on getting my depth on the top of my routes and not rushing,” Kinne said. “That’s a big thing at receiver when you’re making that transition is you feel like everything has to be fast, but you have a lot more time than you think.”
He hasn’t had many opportunities, however, to display his receiver skills in games. He has zero preseason catches, and has been targeted just twice. One of the throws was batted down at the line of scrimmage while the other was an uncatchable ball on a play he was open.
While he battles to make the 53-man roster, Kinne will likely have to rely on his practice repetitions to earn a spot on the Eagles’ practice squad for the third consecutive season.
“What he’s showing us is that he can play,” Pat Shurmur said. “[He can] be a guy that could potentially play a lot of different positions, and the more you can do, the more valuable you become.”
LATE TO THE GAME
It’s tough enough to battle for a roster spot when you’ve attended OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason. But what about when you miss most of those? That’s what happened to several Eagles, who were signed after training camp began. We asked them about the most difficult part of the transition.
Safety Brandan Bishop, signed on Monday: “The hard part isn’t learning the plays, it’s learning all of the adjustments. When a team gives you a motion and you have to shift on the fly before the ball is snapped, that’s the toughest part.”
Defensive tackle Jeremy Towns, signed on Monday: “It definitely slows you down, because you want to get your assignments right. Coming in late, I’m definitely not going to be as sound as someone who has been here longer because they had time to get those small coaching points and be corrected to how their individual body moves.”
Linebacker Dasman McCullum, signed last Tuesday: “The toughest thing is meeting guys and getting to know your teammates. And practicing at the tempo that Philly wants.”
Linebacker Deontae Skinner, signed two weeks ago: “The hardest thing is to come in and learn the terminology and find the leaders on the team who can shorten that process for you, like DeMeco Ryans and Fletcher Cox. Everything in football is pretty much the same; it’s just the terminology that’s different.”
Cornerback Marc Anthony, signed three weeks ago: “The hardest thing is trying to find your niche within the team. You have guys come in during OTAs and they can establish themselves. When you come in the first week of training camp, it’s kind of hard to fit in with the team and find a spot you can play eventually.”