The first Chip Kelly-led practice with the Philadelphia Eagles held under the watchful eye of the media is in the books, and the sentiment was unanimous: it didn’t disappointment.
It was a sensory experience. The loud music and the playlists (featuring the likes of Duran Duran, Tupac, Flo Rida, Ozzy Osbourne and the Dropkick Murphys, to name a few). The speed at which plays were conducted, with only 10 seconds “down” time. Where to look? What to watch for?
The Daily News’ Les Bowen, like many in attendance, went to where much ink already has been and will continue to focus in the next several months: the quarterbacks.
As far as the QBs went, there were no real surprises. The read-option was brought out from the beginning and Mike Vick got the most snaps with the first team, but only just–Nick Foles got almost the same amount. Oh Chip, always keeping us guessing. Then there is Dennis Dixon, brought to the team from the Ravens’ practice squad, who has the distinction of being the only quarterback in the league with experience under Chip Kelly from their days together at Oregon. Not surprisingly, Dixon performed smoothly at practice, according to reports, familiar with the sign language being used on the sidelines. Matt Barkley seems to be a quick learner, connecting with receivers when given the opportunity. G.J. Kinney, the oft-forgotten fifth quarterback on the Eagles’ roster, was largely forgotten at this practice as well.
On defense, Trent Cole and Connor Barwin lined up as the first-team outside linebackers, while DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks were on the inside. The other big area of curiosity, the secondary, didn’t provide much insight into how things may actually play out as offseason signing Cary Williams was absent from practice, having married over the weekend. Curtis Marsh got a number of reps, presumably in Williams’ sted, along with Bradley Fletcher. The starting safeties were Patrick Chung and Nate Allen.
Kelly was asked specifically about Dennis Kelly at right tackle, but he gave words of caution that can and should be used with anything read into practice this early on:
It’s May 13th, so I would make that of it. I don’t think we play the Washington Redskins until sometime in September.”
Sheil Kapadia put together an excellent timeline of what it was like inside practice on Birds 24/7. You should definitely take a look. One of many interesting tidbits from Kapadia:
We begin to see the new play-call structure. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur stands on the sideline with a walkie-talkie and calls the play into the quarterback’s helmet. But before each snap, every offensive player looks over to the sideline. An offensive assistant plays the role of third-base coach and runs through a variety of hand signals that relay personnel grouping and formation.
Exciting times in Eagles-land. It’s only May 13 but ever so slowly, the pieces to the puzzle of what the Birds will look like in the 2013 season have begun to be assembled.