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Chip Kelly finding NFL practices less restrictive than college

Chip Kelly talks NFL practice rules, QB competition, DeSean Jackson & more.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Chip Kelly has been a football coach for most of his life and yet at any press conference he's given since taking the Eagles job, he's always asked about how new and different everything is in the NFL. Without fail, Chip has played down the difference in levels, but today he said that in some ways NFL practices are easier as a coach.

"It's no different than the spring," Chip said. "The only good thing is the rules don't restrict you in terms of what you can do. We spent more time in the spring saying, ‘Hey, we can't do that. Back off, don't press, because you're going to get in trouble and they're going to cancel practices on you.' That part was good that there weren't really any restrictions from a time standpoint. The rest of that, didn't really think that way."

Eagles players don't have classes to get to or NCAA rules to abide by. They're professionals and while the new CBA has made the practice rules more restrictive (more on that here), they are certainly nothing like college.

Other highlights of Chip's presser...

- There was a question about the read option and Chip debuted a nice new saying.

"We tell our quarterbacks, ‘Touchdown, first down, get down,' depending on really what the thing is. I don't want them taking hits. I don't want them running people over. I also don't want them to hook slide when there's seven, eight more yards they can gain. It's trying to get a feel for how far they can go, if they're going to do it. That's always been the mantra as I've taught this thing: ‘Touchdown, first down, get down.'

- Kenny Phillips is practicing without restrictions.

- How have Michael Vick & Nick Foles responded to the QB competition and sharing the first team reps?

The way I hoped they would. They understand it's a competition, and the best guy is going to win it. All through their careers, they've had to compete. I think there's a little bit even more satisfaction when you actually go out and win something than when something is handed to you.

The great thing about them, one of the best qualities about those guys is they're unbelievable competitors. It's a healthy competition. They're both pulling for each other. They know at any moment, if one guy's named the starter, the other guy better be ready to go. He's a chinstrap away from going in. They still have to both prepare, and all of them have to prepare like they're going to be the starter because you don't know how it's going to shake itself out.

I think it's a real healthy competition, and those guys have really embraced it. That's what makes those guys special. It's a fun thing to watch, to be honest with you.

- Chip also gave an update on where the defense is with its transition to a 3-4 from the wide 9 it ran last year.

It really goes from a wide nine to a two‑gap three‑four, and where we end, I don't really know. We're moving in that direction, but where we go really depends on us making a real thorough evaluation of how those guys at the outside linebacker are playing.

I think we feel better about what we have on the D‑line, I think we did a good job of getting guys like [DL Isaac Sopoaga] in here and getting guys like Benny [Logan] in here. We feel like we're a little bit stouter inside than when I first got here in January.

But, again, trying to find those outside linebackers is kind of the key. I think Trent did a nice job today. It's a transition for Trent. It's a transition for Brandon. It's a transition for Phillip [Hunt]. How much they transition. We've still got to play with the roster we have. How far it goes, I don't know. That's really the big question for all of us as we continue to go through the evaluation period.

- Nick Foles can't the run read option right?

To be honest with you, if I called 20 read options with Nick Foles in the game, you should fire me. We're talking about practice right now. I think we've got to figure out who our quarterback is before we understand the direction of where our offense is going. We still have to practice plays. Just like one guy may throw the deep ball to left better than the other guy throws the deep ball to left. When the other guy is in, don't call the deep ball to left.

Part of our evaluation is evaluating what they do well. If player X ends up being the quarterback, then our offense is big enough, now what part of the menu are we ordering from? We're not ordering from the whole menu if that's something he doesn't do well.

Sal Pal actually needled Chip in response asking if he really hadn't figured out what the QBs do well yet?

Not really, to be honest with you, Sal. We've been out here in shorts and T‑shirts. We haven't had pads on. They don't get hit. Tell me who's going to stand in the pocket against a full rush. I haven't seen them do that.

- Finally, DeSean Jackson has been an early standout in camp and Chip mentioned how impressed he's been.

One thing about DeSean that I'm most impressed with is how he came back in shape. He did great in the conditioning test. It proves to me he spent a lot of time this summer investing in himself. That's what we talked about before I left, we said, the sky's the limit for him, and he could be a real special player in this league, but he's got to make that decision that he wants to be.

I think what he did, just watching where he is right now and his pace and tempo as he's running around practice right now, he's what we want. We tell that to our players all the time, we want our guys to be like super balls, not tomatoes. The super ball bounces all the time. He's the ultimate super ball. He bounces all around the field. You watch the looks he did just making our punt team better by fielding kicks back there and letting them learn how to cover it.
Real impressed with how he's approached it and how he came back to camp and excited to continue to work with him.

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