Let's first talk about three days of the pre-draft minicamp. The players spoke after their practices of the wave after wave of reps they took, of the incredible pace of the practices and of their increased level of excitement for the season ahead.
The camp did not, and was never intended to, settle any questions about the depth chart. It is more, as head coach Chip Kelly suggested, a "seating chart" rather than a depth chart. Kelly wanted the players to get as many practice reps as possible so the coaches could take a look at the practices in review sessions and actually have a log with which to work as they evaluate personnel.
From the accounts we know, the camp was a success. The coaches worked into the pace quickly at practice and now have some video to digest of their positional players.
Whatever the coaches learned is private, so there is no way to know how any thoughts changed because of the camp. We know that they were fast practices, "track meets," as running back
At least Kelly and coaches have the beginning of a history with the roster, and now the process moves forward into another phase.
What happened at practice? The doors were closed to the media, so the only link known is what the players said. And they were universal in their praise for the way the practices were conducted and how taxing non-contact, no-pads workout became.
The coaches certainly have started to form their opinions of the players, with the groups they have, and we move on. The offseason conditioning program continues and the players understand the kind of shape they must be in to perform at a high level in Kelly's world. This isn't going to be easy. When the temperatures hit the 90's and the pads go on and tackling is permitted, the pace will continue to be blindingly fast.
And the players need to be prepared.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF THE 2013 SCHEDULE
I'm one of those play-'em-as-they-come guys as far as the schedule goes, but how exciting is it that Kelly's Eagles open the season on Monday Night Football against the defending NFC East-champion Washington Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III? It's a super matchup and even more intriguing as RGIII recovers from knee surgery and could -- early reports suggest should -- be ready to play after suffering the injury in the 2012 post season.
It's an early litmus test for the Eagles and a chance for them to establish something in the division, on the road, and in front of a national television audience.
Beyond the opener, the early portion of the schedule is challenging -- and fascinating. The Chargers come to town to open Lincoln Financial Field on September 15 and then Andy Reid and the much-improved Kansas City Chiefs play in Philadelphia on Thursday, September 19 in a game televised on the NFL Network.
Good thing the Eagles have a weekend off before they begin a three-game road trip in Denver, a journey that also takes them to MetLife Stadium to play the Giants and to Tampa to play the Buccaneers.
The truth is, though, that the schedule is what the schedule is, and we don't know which teams will be strong when the time comes. Just win 'em all, and we can talk later ...
THE DRAFT: WHERE THERE IS SMOKE ...
For months we have listened to all of the rumors and all of the gossip and now, heck, we're going to find out what sticks. This is the time in the pre-draft process when the phone lines really heat up and teams position themselves and form realistic scenarios for next week.
The Eagles are in a terrific position to make something happen. The draft experts seem to believe that there is going to be quite a bit of interest in the Eagles' pick, so maybe Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman will have an opportunity to move down in the first round, if they choose.
Remember, this isn't a one-round draft. The Eagles have nine selections and they have to make the most of them. The roster can get a great boost with a strong draft, followed by excellent coaching and player development.
It's a critical, critical time, and the Eagles are poised to upgrade the roster significantly.
Guesses as to whom the Eagles will take should they stay at No. 4? Not here. I could throw out any of the usual suspects mentioned in the mock drafts, and those names mean nothing. I haven't a clue as to whom the Eagles have atop their draft ratings. I'm waiting just like you for Thursday night to get here, and it can't arrive soon enough.