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Don't Forget About Matt Barkley

Posted Aug 7, 2015

With so much attention on quarterbacks Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, it is easy to overlook Matt Barkley, the Eagles’ longest-tenured player at the position. However, the lack of a spotlight doesn’t bother him. He is far more focused on continuing to improve.

Although he and Tebow are battling for a spot on the roster, Barkley is looking at this Training Camp as a learning opportunity, choosing not to focus on beating out the newcomer but instead on continuing his own growth in the position and in this system.

“I think he’s been playing well and he’s a good teammate to have,” Barkley said of Tebow. “He does add a lot to the team in terms of versatility. But I feel comfortable with where I’m at and I’ve heard good feedback from the coaches about how I’m playing and what they think of me, how they view me. I’m just going to continue to be who I am and not try to conform to a role that I think they want.”

Through only five days of practice, it is clear Barkley worked diligently during the offseason. The quarterback is throwing the ball with more precision, which he attributes to the rise in his confidence level. The shoulder injury that left him hesitant in some situations earlier in his career is no longer a concern. Barkley knows his arm is back and has fully embraced the up-tempo system of this team’s offense.

“That first year I was here, I was really kind of struggling with my motion and trying to find it and doing things,” Barkley said. “That’s all gone and I’ve been in the offense now for two full years. I know what I’m doing. It feels natural – the timing of the routes, the timing of the drops, the footwork.

“I made that transition from being mostly in the center and all the play-action stuff that I did in college to being in the gun. That all feels natural now and so I think the combination of all those things has allowed me to play faster, play quicker.”

Barkley also recently watched his Pro Day film, video he called “atrocious” after observing his throwing motion. He is thankful those days are behind him. In Philadelphia, he has learned to further develop his mechanics and footwork to enhance his level of play.

This newfound confidence is not something that has gone unnoticed by the Eagles’ coaching staff either. Both head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have acknowledged huge strides in the quarterback’s game. His training from April to June especially impressed the team.

“I thought there was a big improvement in terms of where he was,” Kelly said. “It was interesting, when we got into the beginning of the offseason program, he was the quarterback with the most experience in our offense. He was here longer than Mark, obviously longer here than both Tim and Sam.

“I think he's progressed. At times, it's difficult for all those guys because they are not really getting into a rhythm because we are just getting reps right now, but I think Matt has really made a lot of good strides and we are excited to see where he is.”

With the number of quarterbacks currently on the Eagles’ roster, Barkley understands he would not be in a starting role if he makes the team. But, he also understands a backup role only gives him more of an opportunity to learn.

“You’re learning from a different perspective,” said Barkley. “It may not be first-hand experience, but you have to watch the tape just like everyone else. You have to put yourself in their shoes when the ball is in the air and so I think for me just all the reps I can get out here, no matter who it’s with, are reps I can add to my repertoire.”

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