A year ago the training sessions were a point of fascination for observers, who scrambled to publish the playlist of music, who noted the various hardware not before seen on a football field (for example, the shoulder pad “flyswatters” worn by members of the equipment staff at the line of scrimmage to simulate the long arms of defensive linemen) and the general pace of the workouts, which were fast, faster and fastest.
So we’re a year into this now, and watching pract …, er, the training sessions, and some of the stuff out there becomes routine, even though it’s clearly not. We’re just used to seeing it now.
But things are different now for the Eagles than they were a year ago, of course. A full season with Kelly in the lead established the protocol of the way things are to be done around here, starting immediately. The program is vastly different than the one previously in place, and everybody understands that. The tempo is different. Kelly’s energy level is different. It’s all just … so … different.
And it’s fantastic. Ahead of this week’s camp, the Eagles have had a conditioning program in place since April 21, and have had three weeks of Organized Team Activities. The players have been given heaping amounts of information in that time, and have digested it and applied what they know on the field in the form of no-pads, no-contact training sessions. For the rest of the week, the focus is on bringing it all together in the final full-team work before Training Camp begins in late July.
What should we be watching? Everything, naturally. But some things are easier seen than others, so here is my list of Keeping An Eye On pieces to watch in this camp …1.
Fifth-round draft pick Ed Reynolds returned to the NovaCare Complex late last week after missing most of the OTAs as he waited for his Stanford class to graduate. Reynolds was able to communicate with the team via video chatting and so forth, but his absence was a setback.
So, how quickly can he catch up on the X’s and O’s? He will never get back the on-field and in-classroom time, but as tight end
Reynolds is in a mix at safety that includes veterans
The Eagles revamped the wide receiver corps in the offseason, releasing Jason Avant and DeSean Jackson, retaining
What does it all mean?
At this point, It means a different look. The Eagles have more youth and more size across the board at wide receiver than they did last year, and the coaches are working to put all the pieces in the right places. Maclin has run very well coming off the ACL injury that shelved him in 2013 and Cooper looks terrific on the field – confident, catching everything, playing fast. Matthews and Huff are making progress on a daily basis and both have exhibited strong skills on the field and excellent work habits learning the offense.
To pencil in a depth chart at this point is not worth much of anything, as every player steps up and gets as many reps as the man next to him, but both Matthews and Huff have had the ball in their hands during OTAs. They’ve both looked like they fit in and know where they are supposed to be and when during the training sessions.
In addition to those four receivers, the Eagles want to see how much competition there will be for depth. Veteran
It’s always difficult to gauge a quarterback when there is no contact and the red shirt he wears means DO NOT TOUCH. Everything changes when the defense can get after it completely. In the case of this group of quarterbacks, the coaches want to see good decision making, accuracy and timing on their throws.
It’s a pretty fascinating group to consider.
They are not permitted to hit or tackle, so the way the coaches look at these sessions is far different than they would in a Training Camp period. The emphasis is on being in the right position to make the play. This is Year 2 for most of the defense, although players like Jenkins and the five draft picks are still picking their way through the playbook.
We’re going to watch No. 1 draft pick
Otherwise, we have to wait until, really, the preseason games to see how the pieces are fitting into Bill Davis’ defense. This week is an appetizer as the Eagles take another step toward the 2014 regular season.