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Chip Kelly says the Eagles are "light years" ahead of last season


Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

Prior to the Eagles' OTA practice on Thursday, head coach Chip Kelly addressed the media for the first time since the end of the 2014 NFL Draft. Kelly touched on a number of topics. (Quotes via

A Faster Pace

One of the things that stood out the most was that Kelly said the Eagles are even faster in practice than they were last year. Having attended a number of Eagles practices, I can personally attest to the rapid pace. I can't say for sure that the Eagles' Thursday OTA practice was faster than I've ever seen but it definitely was at least fast as I've seen.

Earlier in this offseason I wrote how continuity would be very critical for this Eagles team. Kelly talked about the team benefits of having spent an entire year together.

"It's light years [ahead].  I think for all of our guys they understand what we're doing.  Every year, every day last year was a new insertion and it was a new play and it was the first time in the red zone, first time coming out, first time in two minute.

So all those things for the veterans have all already been in, they've understood them.  We've got a chance in the first, during phase two and rhythm to insert and do everything from that standpoint.  It was against air.  But it was obviously they've seen it, now we're spinning back and inserting it again.

"[...] we're going faster.  We're getting more reps off, more plays off because the guys have a better understanding of the mechanics of it.  [...]  I think we're getting more snaps off in teams on seven on sevens just because our guys are more comfortable with how we want to operate."

Healthy Players

No major injuries to report. After practice, Mychal Kendricks said he suffered a knee contusion but will be ready to practice on Monday.

[Jeremy Maclin] is doing everything.  Full go.  Been in every drill.  All three of those guys that were out, Jeremy, Arrelious Benn and Jason Phillips have been full go with everything we've done so far. [...] [Sanchez] is doing everything, too.  He's not limited at all.  I think I've got a little bit of protocol with him in terms of what he's doing in terms of warm ups.  But he hasn't missed anything from the throwing in phase two to what we've done in the last three days.

Impressive Malcolm Jenkins

[Jenkins] has been outstanding.  I think he's an extremely intelligent football player and that obviously showed just from the first day we got a chance to get on the field with them. He's played multiple positions before in this league.  So he understands the stress on the corners and what that is.  I think sometimes for a safety, you can explain that to them.  He's actually played it and understands it really well.

And Billy [Davis] has been excited about them, when you've watched them out there, it feels like he's been in the system for a while.  Good understanding.  The only thing for Malcolm being able to communicate.  You called it like this in New Orleans.  We called it like this.  He's picked it up quickly.

Evan Mathis situation

Evan Mathis reportedly asked for a new contract this offseason. Whether or not that report is true, Mathis stated he doesn't plan to hold out.

Evan's here.  As I said, when we were at the Owners meetings, I hope everybody gets paid a ton of money.  But I don't think    the one great thing about Evan, he's a professional.  That doesn't affect him, been here every single day.  He's not missed a day in the voluntary offseason program.  Obviously one of our hardest workers.  He's been fantastic when we've been around him.

Sproles Role

Darren Sproles is listed as a running back but also provides offense as a pass catcher. Just don't call him a receiver.

Sproles is not a receiver. [...] All of our running backs are all receiving options.  I just clarified that.  Everyone thinks Darren Sproles is a receiver.  He's a running back and a really, really talented running back.

Brandon Graham's future

Kelly said sees Graham as a fit in the Eagles defense. After practice, Graham said he wants to stay in Philadelphia.

Yeah, I think he obviously has the skill set to rush the passer and set the edge.  And when he's been in there, he's been productive.  The issue is that the other guy's really productive, too.

How many times can you get them all on the field together?  If you put Brandon in, do you take Trent [Cole] out; if you put Brandon in, do you take Connor [Barwin] out?  It's really the pecking order.  I think both our depth at outside linebacker, we've added to it by adding Marcus Smith and Bryan Braman.  But I feel confident we're better at that position right now than we were a year ago because of who we added.

[...] Ideally I would want someone 6'11" that weighs 400 pounds.  So he's a little bit under that.

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