When the voice over the loud speakers called for the start of the 7-on-7 drill during Tuesday's Organized Team Activity at the NovaCare Complex, three members of the Eagles staff, including equipment manager Greg Delimitros, headed for the sideline to don shoulder pads before getting on the field.
No, head coach Chip Kelly isn't searching for the next Vince Papale to come off the street and play for the Eagles. These shoulder pads were mounted with a black fabric in the shape of a tall, round-top window. The staff members were used to mimic pass rushers who put their arms up to try and knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. Kelly explained how the height of the pass block simulators was the same as a 6-4 lineman reaching for the sky.
"You can't throw over everybody, so you have to throw through throwing lanes. It's the best way we can simulate that," Kelly said.
"I think quarterbacks get very comfortable dumping the ball. But if you've got a 6-7, 6-8 offensive lineman in front of you, you're not going to be able to do that. You have Dennis Kelly playing over there at left tackle. Whether that defensive lineman has his hands up or not, you're not going to be able to throw it through two lanes. That is something everybody understands."
The Eagles also decided to hold their training session outdoors despite a light, but steady, rain which made the fields slick. The Eagles do have an indoor facility, but with a 90-man roster and a limited amount of time to work, Kelly opted to remain outside. Plus, the Eagles have to be prepared to play in the rain during the season.
"We just need to get a lot accomplished. We don't have a big indoor facility, so there are a lot of things. You can't practice special teams like that, so if we can be outside, we're going to be outside. We have to play outside. We have to get used to it," Kelly said. "I know you've got to practice in it if you're going to play in it. We've always felt that; unless it's just so bad that you can't be productive. But we had some guys slipping and sliding a little bit. They have to learn to stay on their feet in those situations, so we felt it was good working outside today."
During the OTA, the Eagles rotated the players with different units as Nick Foles and Michael Vick continued to split reps with the first-team offense at quarterback. For anyone looking for signs regarding who is going to open the season as the starting quarterback, none would be found at Kelly's press briefing.
"We haven't had those discussions. It's can we get a ton of reps, get them on tape, that will go through training camp and what not. When you have to make an important decision on who a starter is going to be in some position, I don't think it's why should we jump to conclusions? Why do we need to name a starting quarterback in May?" Kelly said.
"I mean, we're going to take the full amount of time that we have to make a thorough evaluation of what we do. When you make big decisions like that, I don't think you want to make a rash decision. You want to give everybody the opportunity to see what they do. Right now we haven't done a thing in front of officials. We haven't done anything except we've had three days of voluntary mini-camp before the draft and today was our seventh OTA. So none of us have had any thoughts of, 'Hey, we've got to get a guy named by a certain point in time.' It will play itself out. It will play itself out over the course of time when we've had an opportunity to make a thorough evaluation."
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