The Eagles might have 35 days off between now and the official date players and coaches have to report back to the NovaCare Complex for Training Camp, but that hardly means it is time for a vacation.
"I mean, I’ll go home and see my family and spend some time with them, but I don’t look at this as I need a break from what we’ve just done," head coach Chip Kelly said. "I mean, this is our life choice and we enjoy it, so it’s not like I can’t wait for – this isn’t like Fred Flintstone with the Yabba Dabba Doo and we’re trying to get out of work. It’s another day, and we’ll finish up with some different things before we get some time off. But I think anybody that’s in our situation that coaches isn’t like, I can’t wait to get out of there. I think most of them can’t wait to get back in there."
For players, specifically, the next five weeks should be treated as a time to make that final push to be ready for Training Camp and the start of the 2014 season. Whether it is extra training or studying the playbook, players cannot get complacent just because they do not have to be at the facility every day. If anything, they must be even more disciplined now to ensure they put in the work necessary to improve.
"You’ve got to stay in contact with your group of guys," guard
Herremans, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL, has been through the process before and understands how important it is to take advantage of the time between minicamps and Training Camp. Rookie linebacker
"Since this is the last day, I’m going to take some time to recover," Smith said. "I’m going to still work out and do those things so I can come back and be good. I’m going to go to Atlanta, and I’m going to train there with (former Falcons defensive end) Chuck Smith. I’m going to put pass rush together so when I come back I can show the coaches what I can do. I’m going to go home and see my family, spend some time with them, but also you have to continue to train just because you don’t want to lose what you’ve gained so far."
Think about it this way: For Smith and other rookies, five weeks from now is roughly the same amount of time it has been since they were selected in the NFL Draft or signed as free agents afterwards. Consider the volume of information they have learned in that time, the type of training they’ve gone through and how much they have improved overall as football players. Five weeks might not sound like a long period of time, but it is, and it can make or break a player’s chance to win a roster spot.
In fact, you’ll be able to see quite easily by the time the third week of July rolls around which players took full advantage of the 35-day intermission, and which players got a little too comfortable with their time off. It all goes back to Kelly’s mantra of self-governance, and how players comport themselves as professionals and as people when they are not on the clock.