Eagles Notes: All 63 ‘Cleared To Go’ In Practice

Kelly updates status of Marcus Smith, Zach Ertz.

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The Eagles’ first practice in preparation for a 2015 regular season game began with a clean slate. Chip Kelly told reporters Wednesday that all 63 players, including Zach Ertz and Marcus Smith — both of whom missed significant time with injuries — were “cleared to go” in practice.

Kelly was non-commital on the status of both Ertz and Smith for the team’s Week 1 matchup with Atlanta on Monday, saying the players will be monitored and the coaches will “see how [they] handle it.”

Kelly said he wasn’t concerned with the fact that Eagles coaches weren’t able to observe Ertz’s blocking during the preseason, a facet of his game the third-year tight end has struggled with in his first two seasons.

“We didn’t get him into games, but I think he has improved, you can tell, from a technical standpoint. [Tight ends coach] Justin [Peelle] can tell that during drill work, what [Ertz]’s done.”

Here are a few more highlights from Kelly’s press conference.

Kelly talked about the team’s recent contract extensions of offensive linemen Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly.

“We just don’t want to have a lot of free agents when the season ends next year,” he explained.

Kelly was asked what Gardner did to set himself apart from the rest of the lineman fighting for the starting right guard job, including Dennis Kelly, and what Gardner has improved since his arrival last season.

“I think he’s a lot more consistent,” Kelly said. “We were excited with how he played during the end of last year. He played an extensive amount after Todd [Herremans] got hurt, so he’s got a real good grasp of what we’re doing. He’s a real smart football player, and he’s always where he’s supposed to be when he’s supposed to be. There’s a lot of consistency to Andrew’s game.”

— Kelly said that Vinny Curry is working at outside linebacker “full-time now.” When reporters followed up on that, he clarified that he is full-time at OLB in meetings and practice, but has experience playing defensive front and could line up there in games.

 Kelly was asked about the Eagles’ decision to sign Stephen Morris as the team’s third quarterback.

“We have everybody rated, and he was our highest-rated guy that was available after the waiver wire went through,” Kelly said. “We like his arm – he’s got a really strong arm, a quick release. Jeff Stoutland knows him; he was actually the coordinator at Miami when he played there, so we kind of know the makeup of the player. We talked to him when he was coming out of the Draft process, so we kind of relied on all the information that we had. But he was the highest-rated guy we had.”

ESPN’s Ed Werder is reporting that the Eagles and Sam Bradford are no longer engaged in an attempt to negotiate a short-term extension. Werder said the dynamic between the two negotiating parties changed after Bradford’s impressive preseason performances, including his 10-for-10, three-touchdown outing against the Packers.

 According to Kelly, rookie cornerback Eric Rowe could have a “significant role right out of the chute” against Atlanta despite a shaky preseason. “We’re confident in Eric,” Kelly said.