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Leadership, Chemistry Help Eagles

Posted May 19, 2014

It comes naturally to DeMeco Ryans. He's always been an honest, upfront and hard-working person and player. Teammates naturally gravitate toward him ...

It comes naturally to DeMeco Ryans. He's always been an honest, upfront and hard-working person and player. Teammates naturally gravitate toward him. Ryans is, as the sports jargon says, a "natural leader."

There is no question that Ryans leads whatever room he is in for the Eagles. He is the leader in the linebackers room. He is the go-to person for the defense. And when the reporters are in the Eagles locker room and need the full perspective of what's going on, Ryans' is the locker around which the cameras congregate.

But there are a lot more players involved in the process. They may not be as vocal and they may not have the public profile, but they are beneficial in maintaining the culture head coach Chip Kelly wants on this team.

A prime example is what's happening now: A rookie class comes in and the veterans here welcome them with open arms. This is not by accident. The Eagles know that for the team to do well, every player needs to be in a place to perform at maximum efficiency.

"It's been great. The culture is a positive one for every player," said placekicker Carey Spear. "Jon (Dorenbos), Don (Donnie Jones) and Al (Alex Henery) have all been extremely welcoming and supportive."

Who steps up when a veteran leader leaves the team? The transition is traditionally done seamlessly as players fill the void without any stand-in-front-of-the-team speeches or fanfare. It just happens. And then as time passes and familiarity grows, it becomes second nature.

The Eagles have a great mix of youth and experience on this team. Kelly's day-to-day operation promotes teamwork to "complete the mission," and each and every player buys into the program. When that happens, and when camaraderie is established throughout the offseason, the right culture manifests itself when the regular season begins and the players work into their seven-day life cycles.

"It's all for one," said linebacker Connor Barwin. "We're a positive-thinking team and we want to help each other become the best players we can be. That only helps the team. Whatever we can do to help the team is a plus for all of us."

So if you had any concern when the Eagles released some prominent veterans in the offseason, you need to take a deep breath. Jason Avant isn't here, but there are players who are leaders who are stepping into the role, namely Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek and Barwin and Trent Cole and so many of the young veterans who have the right kind of approach in the locker room.

It's not a worry. Kelly has his finger on the pulse of what's going on in the building. The Eagles feel great about the direction of the offseason. They're working hard in the conditioning program.

And the leadership? There are plenty of leaders, a cool chemistry and enough energy to light a City.

NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT

  • Remember the days when signing draft picks prior to the start of Training Camp was always kind of a concern? That's rarely the case in the NFL these days, and it doesn't appear to be one for the Eagles. They're making excellent progress on signing the 2014 draft class.

  • As many expected, wide receiver Arrelious Benn returned on Monday with a new contract. Benn was released on Friday and is now back to compete among the wide receivers. It's going to be a very competitive battle for the fifth and, if they keep this many, sixth wide receiver positions.

  • How much will the Eagles use LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles in the backfield at the same time? It's going to be something to watch, but consider this: They are the only two running backs with 150-plus receptions and 8-plus receiving touchdowns since 2011. Imagine the fun Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will have putting some twists into the offensive design this season.

  • There are four players remaining on this roster from the team's last trip to the NFC Championship Game, in 2008: offensive guard Todd Herremans, linebacker Trent Cole, tight end Brent Celek and long snapper Jon Dorenbos. Time flies ...

  • There are seven first-round draft picks on the current roster, and five of them (Maclin, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Marcus Smith II) were drafted by the Eagles. The two not drafted by the Eagles: Malcolm Jenkins and Mark Sanchez.

  • Just so you know, the rookies remain in Philadelphia through the remainder of the offseason program, including the Organized Team Activities. Stanford safety Ed Reynolds is prohibited due to an NCAA rule until his class graduates. Reynolds will play catch up when he gets back to the NovaCare Complex for Training Camp. He is the only draft pick impacted by this rule.

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