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Chip Kelly raves about Eagles running back Ryan Mathews

Here's what the Eagles coach had to say before Philadelphia's practice on Wednesday.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spoke prior to the team's second mandatory minicamp practice on Wednesday morning. He touched on a number of topics, including running back Ryan Mathews. The former first round pick has kind of flown under the radar since signing with Philadelphia due to DeMarco Murray being in the spotlight. Kelly seems pleased with what he's seen out of Mathews thus far:

"Yeah, Ryan has been a really good addition to us. [He’s a] big, physical running back.  I don't think you really know how actually big he is until you pull up next to him.  He's almost 230 pounds, and he can really run.  He's explosive.  I think when he sees a hole, he can change gears and accelerate through it.  We're using him a little bit on kickoff return, I think, because of taking advantage of that speed.  There are not a lot of guys that have that speed to go along with that size, but we're real excited about having him.  He's worked extremely hard here since we got him. He came in right after we acquired him and has been working really hard.

That whole group is doing a great job, a bunch of running backs, but we're excited to see what he's like.  It'll be a lot different, too, with the pads on because obviously they're letting him go, but I think he's one of those guys when the pads are on that will become even bigger because he's going to be a real tough guy to tackle and bring down."

Eagles running back coach Duce Staley similarly raved about Mathews earlier this offseason. It'll be interesting to see how Philadelphia uses him.

Here are some of the other things Kelly talked about.

The type of safeties the Eagles like

I think you have to be somewhat interchangeable because our safeties have to cover.  We're not a one guy free safety, one guy in the box safety.  It's not what we do.  We're not a single‑gap defense.  When you're a single‑gap defense, you've got to have a guy from the secondary that's devoted to fitting into the front, whether it's at the linebacker position or at a down-safety position.  We're more of a right and left safety operation, and coverage skills are a premium, to go along with tackling, to go along with the other things, I don't think ‑‑ there's a lot of carryover, but obviously I think your better cover guys are on the outside, but you'd like to get four guys, if you're playing with a base defense, four guys that can do it all, that can cover and that can tackle.

Eric Rowe's position

Eric is a corner.  That's where we have him at and that's where he'll be for the foreseeable future in terms of where we are.  It's very difficult for someone to learn multiple positions in terms of being able to fit in, but he's done an outstanding job at corner.  He's tall, he's long, he gets his hands on guys, he can disrupt routes, but he's also got outstanding feet and change of direction.  Seems to be around the ball a lot, has caused a lot of turnovers in the 10 OTAs and the one mini‑camp practice we had yesterday.  You know, always kind of punching the ball out, seems to be around the ball.  I think he's really picking up on it really well.

Walter Thurmond's progress at safety

Walt is doing a real good job. Walt has experience in there because a lot of his time in the National Football League has been as a nickel.  If you're a nickel, you're an inside player, and that's really what ‑‑ you're another safety.  You're kind of playing down safety, but you're playing a lot of match coverage on open No. 2 receivers, and Walt has fit in. He's real smart, picks things up very quickly, and I think he's really done a really nice job in there at the other safety spot.

Strength of the defensive line

Yeah, we're excited about that position.  I think it was probably one of our strongest, if not our strongest position, last year as you go through the entire season.  We think we provided a little bit more depth for it, but all those guys in another year in the system, Fletch and Vinny [DE Vinny Curry] and Ced and those guys have been here for a couple years, but then you throw [DT] Beau Allen and [DE] Taylor Hart into the mix with those guys, and we think we'll have a good rotation and we’re excited about where we are from a defensive line standpoint.

Taylor Hart

Yeah, Taylor has done a really good job. Last year was almost like a redshirt year for him if you look at what happened to him. He came in at 281 pounds when we first drafted him.  He's probably up to a little bit over 300 right now, has really kind of changed his body around in the weight room, and is really one of those guys, with Beau Allen, [that we are] kind of looking at moving into his second year that we're really counting on to help us with Fletch, with Vinny, with Bennie Logan, with Cedric.  We feel like we've got a lot of guys there that we can keep fresh and kind of rotate through, which we're trying to do on the defensive line.

How can Zach Ertz become the best TE like he wants to be?

That's up to you guys to figure out.  I don't really care where he's rated.  I know he's doing a great job for us.  He's got an unbelievable work ethic, has really had no offseason in terms of what he did this past ‑‑ from when our season ended against the Giants to when we started the offseason program in terms of what he did to work on his craft and make himself better not only as a receiver but as a blocker. A lot of guys do things and try to get with a coach to prepare them for the Combine but then they forget about that.  Zach is not that type.  He was traveling all over the country trying to make himself a better blocker, a better receiver, doing all the little teeny things that's going to make him kind of take that next step, and that's what we're excited to see where he goes with that.

Meeting times

Yeah, our meetings have always been structured in a very short manner.  We understand exactly how much time a meeting should be devoted to.  They’re a lot different. Our meetings have always been a lot shorter since I've been here, and even when I was at Oregon.  We've never met for more than an hour ‑‑ we've never had an hour‑and‑a‑half meeting, which I think was the norm in this league, but we've been doing that for a long time.

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