Despite a strong finish to his 2013 campaign, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz did not get off a fast start in his rookie season. Ertz admitted that his struggles in preseason and training camp made the Eagles cautious to slowly work him into the game plan. A possible explanation for those struggles is due to the time Ertz missed while being required to finish up classes at Stanford.
One year later, a new Eagles rookie finds himself in a similar situation. Safety Ed Reynolds, who is friends with Ertz and played with him at Stanford, also missed out on some offseason workouts while finishing up classes. While Reynolds was in California, however, he was still able to keep in touch with the Eagles via FaceTime and Skype. He specifically noted he would be in touch with defensive backs coach John Lovett and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp. Reynolds also had access to the playbook on his iPad. One thing that did give Reynolds trouble was learning the team's signals that come in from the sideline. Due to this the rookie safety admitted his first day of practice wasn't easy.
I think that first day, because I made it out for the last day of OTAs, I definitely felt a little bit behind. Just because, like I said, I really didn't know any of the signals. With the tempo that our offense runs at, you really have to know the signals and make your adjustments as quickly as possibly. I think that was the only thing. These older guys, Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Cary Williams, all of those guys have really been a big help for me. And if I have any question they're there to answer them and help me through the process.
Although Reynolds' situation compares to the one Ertz went through, there are some notable differences. While Ertz was drafted early in the second round, the Eagles selected Reynolds at pick No. 162 overall. Ertz immediately projected to earn playing time as a backup/rotational player with starter Brent Celek. Reynolds instead enters a crowded defensive backfield with players such as Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos, and Keelan Johnson. What makes matters more difficult is there's no extra time for Reynolds to catch up. Head coach Chip Kelly noted as much.
There is no compensation. Those are the rules. Zach [Ertz] went through it last year. Anybody that's ‑‑ I think there's six rules that still fall under that thing. We were allowed to Skype with him. So our defensive coaches and special team coaches, secondary coaches, John Lovett and [Dave] Fipp Skyped with him I think once a week.
Just follow the rules that they have in place for those guys. He got here, he participated in Thursday's OTA and he'll go through today but there's no compensation. It's not like if we put him out here now, it's like, okay, now he hasn't been here ‑‑ our whole premise is we are going to throw him in at the deep end and see if he can swim.
It's important to remember that while Reynolds' status as a draft pick helps his roster chances, it's not exactly a guarantee. Reynolds will likely look to earn a roster spot as a depth safety and special teams contributor in his rookie year. But like Ertz last season, it could be a slow start for Reynolds. The rookie safety will have to work hard and find a way to stay afloat in the meantime.