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Coaching Spotlight: Five To Watch

Posted Jun 17, 2014

For a period of an afternoon, the Eagles' coaching staff sat in the cafeteria of the NovaCare Complex answering any and all questions. My tact was to spotlight five key players for the 2014 season ...

For a period of an afternoon, the Eagles' coaching staff sat in the cafeteria of the NovaCare Complex answering any and all questions. My tact was to spotlight five key players for the 2014 season.

Everyone is a key player, of course, but the feeling here was that these five are structurally important to the integrity of the roster, and all five hold massive responsibilities on the field.

The five players: tight end Zach Ertz, center Jason Kelce, quarterback Nick Foles, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and nose tackle Bennie Logan. All are important elements in the Eagles' plans for the present and the future.

TE COACH TED WILLIAMS ON ZACH ERTZ

"His greatest growth last year was confidence. Everybody thinks he can play at this level but until you actually do, you don't really know. I think the more playing time he got, the more fluid he became in terms of doing the right thing and doing it more consistently. That's a growth process, and I think he began to feel more confident in terms of what he could accomplish.

"Going into this season, I think he's utilized the offseason very, very well in terms of the training program he's been indoctrinated into. He's getting bigger and stronger. I think he's weighing in in the mid (2)40s. He appears to be stronger. He's fundamentally better as a blocker than he was a year ago because he's worked at it and he wants to be better at it.

"The question is now: Can you take all of that training and all of that learning and translate it into something that's effective on the field?

"The tight end in this offense is truly a staple. We expect an awful lot out of him. You have to be talented and you have to be willing to work at the fundamentals of the game, because you will be exposed if you don't. You are asked to be a good run blocker. You are asked to run good routes and read coverages. You are asked to catch the ball and make yards. It's a necessity. Each of our tight ends has embraced the concept of what it means to be that kind of a guy."

O-LINE COACH JEFF STOUTLAND ON JASON KELCE

"Jason is truly the motor that drives the engine for us in so many ways. You have to have a guy there who is in a comfort zone making quick reads and decisions and articulating that information to the rest of the offense. He's confident in what he sees and in gathering information. And this is an area that I think we can be a lot better than last year is helping Jason. The players around him have to feed him information so that he can put us in the correct situation. I think we'll be so much better at that.

"Jason not only processes the information that he has from his eyes, but now he's getting more information from the players around him. It's going to be a big help.

"Jason Kelce was a linebacker in college, just like myself. I think sometimes when that happens, when you've played on the other side of the ball, you understand how schemes are set and built.

"He is unbelievable in space. I've gotten a lot of phone calls from friends and from people who have either coached in the league or who still coach in the league and they're like, 'This guy is unbelievable in space.' When he gets outside the blocking box, on a screen or a sweep or a play down the field, you see what kind of athlete Jason is and how he can move and take the right angle and be so effective. He's so gifted as an athlete."

QB COACH BILL MUSGRAVE ON NICK FOLES

"Good size, should be a durable player. He's 6-feet-5, 255 (pounds). He was durable at Arizona. He got the crap kicked out of him a lot of times playing for the Wildcats, but always got up. He's tough physically and tough mentally. I've enjoyed being out there with him this spring to see how fast he can process what he sees. He's got a very quick processor between his ears and we know he's very talented and can make any type of throw that you want to see.

"He's receptive to learning, a good note-taker in the meetings. He studies himself like you would expect. He's always looking for a way to get better each and every day.

"Nick is a driven guy who very much works hard to improve. I love working with him. Like every quarterback and every player, there are areas he needs to grow in and he is willing to do the work to make that improvement. I'm very excited to be here working with Nick and all of our quarterbacks."

INSIDE LB COACH RICK MINTER ON MYCHAL KENDRICKS

"Mychal is in his third year in the league and his second in our system and he has a high ceiling and a tremendous upside. He made great strides last year, particularly, let's say, from the halfway point in the season. Things began to click in like it did with so many of our other guys. As his game elevated, coinciding with everybody else's game, we began to click as a defense.

"We ask a lot of Mychal from a skill nature point of view. He's our dime linebacker in our nickel package, so he always has the duty of covering players like (tight end Antonio) Gates and all of those heavy-duty-lifting players. He's got responsibilities to cover the linebackers, at times the running backs. We would like to use him to bring pressure even more, because he is so talented and so forceful.

"He's still growing as a professional, and having a veteran like DeMeco Ryans next to him is so important. Having DeMeco there, making the calls, taking on those responsibilities as the quarterback of the defense, allows Mychal the freedom to play. I don't want to burden him with too much. Maybe that changes in a year or two. Right now, if he can just relax and go play, we're going to be fine. Mychal is high strung and passionate about the game and the less he has to think about, the better. As long as he can fly around and exert his skills, he can be a pretty darn good football player.

D-LINE COACH JERRY AZZINARO ON BENNIE LOGAN

"Bennie was a formidable player in college at LSU and he played with great energy and productivity there. He's been the same since he became a Philadelphia Eagle. Bennie works extremely hard and he's technically sound.

"He came in as really successful college player, so there has been some scheme growth, but none of it has been a surprise to us. Bennie played a lot of snaps at a high level at LSU, he practices at a high level and he lives his life at a high level so that's pretty much A to Z on him.

"There was no miracle metamorphosis that occurred when he got here. He was prepared to be a good player.

"Bennie has adapted well to our program. He comes in every day ready to get to work and make himself a better football player, and that's all a coach can ask."

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