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News, Notes And Things I Think

The Five P's (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) isn't necessarily one of Chip Kelly's mantras, but it is the foundation for the Eagles rookies in this weekend's minicamp and beyond. They are here to absorb.

Imagine how much has been thrown at the rookies in this short period of time. The verbiage is new. The concepts are unique. The tempo is beyond anything they've experienced.

So instead of judging how the players perform on the field, per se, the emphasis in this teaching and learning period is on how well the players take what they've been given in terms of reams of information and then translate all of that jargon onto the practice field.

The players know it, and they're digging in.

"Usually when I get into film study, I'm usually watching my opponent," said wide receiver Jordan Matthews. "Right now, my opponent essentially is myself and trying to get to the point where I'm actually very confident with the offense. I've been in the playbook more, trying to learn from that and then I'll come back and watch film of the practice from the day before and try to correct my mistakes."

All of the rookies have the same routine: Wake up, get to the NovaCare Complex and dig in for the day. When they are finished with meetings and practices and meals, they head back to the rookie hotel and cozy up with the playbook even more.

"It's all about learning the playbook," said wide receiver Josh Huff.

At least Huff is able to attend each day and learn on the go. Fifth-round pick Ed Reynolds heads back to Stanford after this weekend, unable to attend the team's Organized Team Activities and daily workouts until his school class graduates, per the NCAA rule. It's something tight end Zach Ertz battled last year, and it requires great discipline and commitment.

"I'll be able to have the playbook with me and get those mental reps now and while I'm away from the team," said Reynolds, who can watch meetings that are podcasted by the team on his iPad. "The physical reps I can do right now and get as many as I can just because it's muscle memory, going out there and making sure I'm doing my assignment, aligning correctly and just going out there and playing football."

  • The Eagles released Arrelious Benn on Friday, opening up a roster spot. Benn was acquired last year in a trade with Tampa Bay and then spent the season on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. That was the big question with Benn as roster spots were eyed for this year: Could he get back all the way and show he could run well enough to compete for a roster spot? The Eagles added Matthews and Huff in the draft and they have a bunch of young receivers they want to see in the spring and summer. Who do you project as the team's five or six receivers? Four seem pretty cut and dried with Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Matthews and Huff. After those four? The list includes Brad Smith, Damaris Johnson, Jeff Maehl, B.J. Cunningham, Will Murphy, Ifeanyi Momah, Kadron Boone and Quron Pratt.
  • Robert Mathis is the cornerstone of the Indianapolis defense and is a pass rusher who demands a lot of attention. Mathis, though, has been suspended by the NFL for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, and as it stands now he will miss games against Denver, the Eagles, Jacksonville and Tennessee. Mathis led the NFL last season with 19.5 quarterback sacks and his loss is significant. Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman had 5.5 sacks last year for Indianapolis. Clearly, Mathis is an elite edge pass rusher and his loss gives the Eagles one less item to worry about for the Week 2 game. Just taking a peek ahead …
  • Nothing to report on potential additions to the roster. The Eagles are keeping their eyes open, as they always do, as teams around the league trim their rosters. Maybe a helpful player comes free, or a veteran who is still out on the streets comes in and works out well enough to earn a job. So far, it hasn't happened.
  • Love what the Eagles added at defensive line in the draft in terms of the way both Taylor Hart and Beau Allen approach the job. Nothing fancy. Certainly nothing pretty. They're two hard-working, nose-in-the-dirt tough guys who are going to improve the level of competition up front. Hart's past with line coach Jerry Azzinaro at Oregon could pay dividends for his transition to the NFL. "I pretty much know what he wants from his linemen," said Hart. "His technique and his approach, I understand where he's coming from. Now I have to work hard and raise my game to make it here."
  • Maybe it's just me, and it's something to monitor, but Alejandro Villaneuva looks like he's already bulked up just a bit in the few weeks he's been an Eagle. The highly decorated U.S. Army Ranger is listed at 277 pounds on his 6-foot-9 frame, so adding strength and bulk is important to succeed as an NFL defensive lineman. He was a big point of interest at Friday's Rookie Media Day, for good reason.
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