The news that the Eagles have lost their second player to a season-ending injury is only made more cruel considering that the team has not been playing full contact throughout Training Camp thus far.
Head coach Chip Kelly explained following Monday's practice that the team will leave full contact to the preseason.
"We have four preseason games for that," Kelly said. "They're hitting pretty good when they get an opportunity. The big thing with tackling, you want to be on your feet anyway. We don't want people diving. We want to be good form tackle so they get an opportunity. In the first team period we do every day, we're going to be doing that."
The injury concern with going live actually has more to do with the action around the ball.
"When you get guys on the ground, it is not really the two guys that get tackled, it's what's chasing it," Kelly said. "We're trying to keep everybody in every situation up. If I'm blocking my guy and I'm trying to finish to the whistle, two guys in front of me fell, that's where the biggest thing occurs. It's the pile ups. Most of the time it's not the tackle or the tackler, it's the rest of the guys coming through. You have a lot of big bodies moving. There's a fine line what we have to get done from a work standpoint. We also know we have to get our guys to the game, too.
"It's a dance everybody's got to dance but you want to make sure you get enough physicality in practice. I think our guys are doing a good job right now. Our guys are being real competitive with each other, but they also know there's got to be a little cooperation that goes on."
Kelly added that the reaction to injuries like the ones to Maclin or Phillips are not immediately related to the football implications.
"I think the first one is just a natural human reaction of sadness," Kelly said. "You look at how much Jeremy has put into this, how much everybody on this team cares about him. He's a guy that is here every single day. Football is his life. It's a hard thing. I'm a big guy that asks the question 'Why' all the time, why do we do this or that. Most situations you get a rational answer. When a guy has a non-contact injury, it's kind of tough to rationalize.
"When you get back, the reality of it is you got to get ready with the guys that are able to play and healthy to play. It's kind of like someone dropped their shield in battle and the other guy has to pick it up, pick up the slack for him."
The news of the day at the NovaCare Complex came earlier in the day with the announcement that the team will retire Donovan McNabb's No. 5 on September 19th. Kelly was present in the auditorium during the press conference honoring the greatest quarterback in Eagles history and was struck most by the passage of time.
"To be honest with you, the one thing that occurred to me when Donovan was up there is how quick things go," Kelly said. "I mean, it's amazing. You think about how short a career is. When you look at the lifespan of a human being is 79 to 80, whatever the lifespan is, just a short amount of time. I remember when (McNabb) got drafted here. I remember when he was a rookie. I remember when he was playing at Syracuse. All of a sudden, you're at his press conference for retirement. Just the guys who were here, (Brian) Dawkins, (Brian) Westbrook. I coached against Brian (Westbrook) when he was at Villanova and I was at New Hampshire, now he's retired.
"It's hard to think of someone being retired when they're so young. But you better understand how special it is to get an opportunity to play at this level and to play at a high level for a really long time. It was a neat thing to be a part of, a neat thing to watch."
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