Welcome to Eagles Rookie Minicamp, where it is all – and this is not an exaggeration in any way – about the basics. Players arrive at the NovaCare Complex and spend Friday and Saturday in the classroom with their position coaches being introduced to the schemes, on the field working without pads and at a reasonable tempo to take into practice what they learned off the field, and then they watch the film and correct mistakes.
There is so much information flowing, yes, but the whole weekend is about introducing the players to the Eagles Way and getting them up to speed about what is expected.
And it is ground-floor basic, including signs throughout the building to the places they need to be – the locker room, the meeting rooms, the playing field, the cafeteria.
"Yesterday's message was about our core values and how we live them," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said on Friday, talking about the arrival message to the players. "What they are, why they are important, and how we accomplish them. We went over connect, compete, accountability, football IQ, and fundamentals yesterday, and today we're setting the tone of how we practice. The details of how we practice. Where to stand. How to go from period to period. How to treat the quarterback when you're out there on defense. What the requirements are of finishing.
"For everything that we do, we want to paint a picture of exactly what we want. I talk about this a lot: How we get better every day. We're highly detailed in meetings. We're full-speed to the snap in walkthrough, we're high intensity in practice. When you're high detailed in a meeting, you have to set the standard in everything that you do, so that's not only the plays that they run, and the fundamentals that they run the plays with, but also how you practice. That was a big meeting this morning."
There is no contact, of course. The players aren't wearing pads. And while there are warm-up drills, individual position fundamental sessions, 7-on-7 segments, the practices last about an hour and are designed to keep players healthy and give them a chance to learn at a reasonable pace.
Sirianni and his coaching staff are always trying to perfect the process – every part of it. Every day. Every part of every day. So, there are tweaks and there are different directions the team might take, but it's all done in the vein of making things better for players who, for the last several months, have gone through the pre-draft process of Top 30 visits, travel, hotel stays, on-the-go meals, and here-and-there workouts.
It's a start. The Eagles are evaluating how a player absorbs information and then takes it to the field. There is a group of players who are here on a tryout basis and the evaluation has to do with how a player moves on the practice field. Sirianni is obsessive with his detail of notes and references. This is the third Rookie Minicamp he has run and every year he sharpens the process.
It is, literally, a first step. The players are working themselves back into football shape while they learn the playbook and prepare for the highest level of competition. It is what it is, as they say. It is a Rookie Minicamp, a first chance for the coaching staff to see new players in Eagles uniforms. In a long and winding ladder of a football season, it is an initial, very important, step for everyone.