The Philadelphia Eagles took the field yet again this afternoon, and with an eventful day of training and Chip Kelly’s presser, there is plenty to recap. Here’s a round-up of observations for day 3 of Eagles training camp, starting first with a couple of takeaways from Kelly’s morning session with the media:
Revisiting a question that has been echoed the last few days, Kelly today confirmed that DeMarco Murray was held out as a preventative measure. Apparently, Murray’s “hydration levels” were running a bit high, and he ran a higher risk of injury as a result.
The staff thought better of running their prized investment onto the field at risk of injury, and given Murray’s history of injuries and past usage, it’s hard to argue this wasn’t the prudent measure. Murray is set to be a major piece to the Eagles’ offensive puzzle, so losing him to injury during a meaningless training camp session would be a monumental waste. The coaching staff relies pretty heavily on the sports science department to keep players on the field, so when it relays the message that a player is at risk, you’d better believe Kelly and the rest of the staff will act accordingly. I’d suspect this isn’t the last time a player will be held out of practice for preventative measures, especially one as valuable to the team as Murray.
Since Kelly’s first season with the team, the name Riley Cooper has become synonymous with the ongoing issue of racism in sports, and to a lesser degree, America. Today, Cooper’s name was again connected to allegations of racism, but this time in regard to those levied against Kelly by a few of his disgruntled former players.
When asked if there could be a connection between Kelly’s decision to keep Cooper on the team and the comments made by some of Kelly’s ex-players, Kelly agreed that it is possible:
"“There could be, but literally I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to connect ‘x’ to ‘y’ to ‘z’ and all of those other things. We have other things that we need to take care of.”"
Kelly went on to say that he does not regret the decision to retain Cooper, and that it is a decision that was made by the team.
Hopefully this issue begins to fade away so that Kelly and the rest of the organization can focus more on football, and less on the political side of the business. It’s undeniable that racism is a huge issue in America, and should be taken very seriously, however, the accusations towards Kelly are unfounded and reckless considering how damaging they could be to his reputation.
Moving on to the football side of the recap, the Eagles had yet another eventful training session today, particularly within the skill positions. Jordan Matthews made an especially good impression, putting on a show for the second consecutive day, and showcasing his unique skill set:
Matthews continues to show tremendous growth thus far and should be primed for a big season. Aside from the obvious skill that Matthews has demonstrated through the early parts of camp, what remains most impressive is Matthews constant energy and effort that he brings to the field. As Ben Natan of Bleeding Green Nation noted, Matthews regularly finishes every rep as if he’s scoring a touchdown, regardless of the outcome. While some have made tongue-in-cheek comparisons between Matthews and his cousin and all time great, Jerry Rice, Matthews does posses one thing: Rice’s intensity, and ridiculous effort.
Though his progression is apparent, what’s even more encouraging is the rapport that Matthews is beginning to develop with Sam Bradford.
Last season, Matthews and Mark Sanchez developed a ton of chemistry during training camp and it translated to the regular season. Despite being fairly uneven in the majority of his starts, Sanchez was able to hook up with Matthews 37 times for 594 yards and 6 touchdowns. When extrapolated over a 16 game season, that comes out to a pretty ridiculous line of 74/1,188/12, and that’s with Mark Sanchez at the helm.
This isn’t to say that you can lock Matthews in for a Megatron-ian season in 2015, but it does show his upside.
Speaking of Bradford, he continued to build on his day 2 performance, making a good impression on those in attendance:
As long as Bradford isn’t 100%, however, he will continue to have some issues, as Louis Riddick points out here:
I did a fairly lengthy piece on Bradford’s mechanics earlier in the summer where I discussed his ability to effectively transfer weight and create synergy between his upper and lower halves. I have not been able to attend any of the practices, and will likely have to wait until preseason to really get a good look at how Bradford has progressed in this regard, but according to Riddick the early returns are shaky. Now, Bradford is just getting back into the swing of things, so this an adjustment period is expected. His mechanics aren’t just going to return immediately; it’s going to take work. Some of it is trusting the leg and getting comfortable, another factor is the inevitable rust that Bradford will have to shake off through his training sessions. I have little doubt that Bradford will bounce back — should he stay healthy of course — but this is something to monitor.
Another player who is quietly having a pretty impressive showing is second year receiver, Josh Huff:
Huff had a rough first season in Philly, however, he’s committed himself to putting the concentration lapses and inconsistencies of 2014 behind him. So far, the results have been encouraging, as Huff is off to a great start. It’d be fantastic if Huff were able to pry the starting job away from Cooper over the summer. Huff is much more dynamic, and it’s unlikely Cooper is here in 2016, although Huff will not have anything given to him. He’ll have to continue to earn it.
After what sounded like a bit of a scary moment it’s good to see Ertz bounce back so quickly. Ertz continues to make grabs in the practices, and impressed yet again today with his ability to make plays. The real question is, however, whether or not Ertz’s blocking will improve enough for him to pry the starting job away from Celek. According to Chip Kelly, Ertz has done a much better job with his hand usage and has in fact taken good strides during the offseason. Whether or not Ertz does enough to take the next step will be determined during the preseason games.
The battle for the 3rd quarterback slot continued today, however, neither Tim Tebow nor Matt Barkley did much to distinguish themselves. In fact, it sounds as though both Barkley and Tebow put on pretty poor performances:
As of now, it appears that Tebow might have the slight edge as he offers a bit more as a running threat and in a sub-package role, however, the competition is still wide open. One of the two will have to become more consistent to distinguish himself in the eyes of the coaching staff. Whoever is first to cut down on the mistakes, and does more of the “little things” right, will most likely come away the winner.
That’s all for today! Eagles camp will be back on Thursday as the player have off tomorrow.
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