This is a weekend of basics for a group of 50 players – five 2019 draft picks, 11 undrafted rookie free agents, five players with some level of NFL experience, and 29 players on a tryout basis – looking to impress Eagles head coach Doug Pederson and his staff as the team gets its Rookie Minicamp underway at the NovaCare Complex.
As such, the level of expectation for Pederson and the coaches is very much the same.
"You know, just even in the walk-through setting that we just had, how well they picked up assignments," Pederson said. "You know, for us, too, as coaches, yeah, you can see – if they're just going in the right direction then we can clean up footwork and details and communication.
"But do they have an idea that I'm supposed to move to the right, right? And that's a good thing, because we got them going in the right direction. Now we can start cleaning up footwork and communication and some of the detailed things with plays.
"But, yeah, you can tell right away how well guys pick things up mentally. Listen, everybody learns differently. Guys can look at the playbook and go right out on the field and execute it. Guys need to see it on paper, maybe see video, and then go out on the field. There are just many ways guys learn."
The coaching staff will throw a lot of information at the players this weekend to see how much of the X's and O's and Eagles jargon the youngsters can retain and translate from the meeting rooms to the practice field. As the team took the field on Friday afternoon, all eyes were on first-round draft pick Andre Dillard, who lined up at left tackle and will stay there, as Pederson said in his pre-practice press conference.
The takeaway? Don't overreact to anything from the weekend, one way or another. This is only a taste for the players and for a coaching staff and personnel department that gets its first look at most of the players in Eagles practice jerseys.
"There is a level of patience you got to have, especially now. We're still in the offseason and still learning, still putting in our offense, defense, and special teams plans. You've got to give them time to grow," Pederson said. "I think as you get into Training Camp, you know, then the patience starts to wear thin and a little more thin and a little more thin. It's all about execution, and by then they should understand what's going on.
"Right now, it's all about patience. We want to help them succeed. We don't want anybody to fail. We want them all to do well."
In addition to Dillard, second-round draft picks running back Miles Sanders and wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, fourth-round draft pick defensive end Shareef Miller, and fifth-round draft pick quarterback Clayton Thorson pulled on their Eagles jerseys for the first time and dug in to familiarize themselves with the playbook.
This weekend represents a beginning for those players, a chance for the tryout players to perform well enough to get a longer look, and for the group of players as a whole who have not been on the field much at all in the last several months an opportunity to knock off some rust.
In short, as Pederson said, the weekend is about the "Eagles process," and getting it rolling in the right direction pointing to the September 8 regular-season opener at home against Washington.
"It's hard to sit here and go, 'OK, he's going to have this role, that role.' We don't know that yet," Pederson said. "We're not there yet. We're not even close. Yet to be able to really now say, 'Hey, these guys can help us. They can help us down the road and really, really begin to sort of – it gets the wheels turning. Like how can we use a player? How can he fit into our system?'
"Those are all things that are Training Camp-ish when we begin to play games."