Chip Kelly's decision to not have Sam Bradford suit up for the Philadelphia Eagles' first preseason game wasn't a total shock, but it was still somewhat of a surprise. The 27-year-old quarterback hasn't missed a single rep in practice this summer. He hasn't shown any apparent signs of injury or pain. So what's the deal? Why are the Eagles being so cautious?
According to a report from Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the team feels like they don't need to rush Bradford back on the field just yet because they are "ecstatic" with his performance in training camp. It's true; Bradford has been really impressive this summer. Not only has he shown great command of the offense but he's flashed laser accuracy, great arm strength, a very quick release, and overall good decision making.
So perhaps the team feels like Bradford playing a few meaningless reps just isn't worth it. Bradford himself said he was disappointed about not being able to play, but he raised a fair point:
"I think the big thing is, if I did play this Sunday, it would be six to eight plays," Bradford said. "It's not like I was going to go in there and play four quarters and I'm missing out on 75 reps in there. Like I said, you're disappointed to not be out there playing, but I think there's still plenty of time in preseason for me to get the work that I need to get done."
On the other hand, one could argue Bradford needs the reps because he hasn't had to deal with any real game action pressure in training camp. Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice has raised concern about the status of Bradford's health:
"A few Eagles media people have noted that Bradford doesn't look hurt. That is a statement with which I agree. He's not limping, nor does he show any sign of pain after his reps. However, not looking hurt and not looking 100 percent (which he clearly is absolutely not) are two different things. From what I've seen, unlike the other quarterbacks, Bradford does not attempt sudden movements to get away from defensive linemen, who, of course, do not touch the quarterbacks in camp. I'm not sure I've even seen him sprint yet. In other words, while it is true that he doesn't look hurt, he shouldn't, because he barely moves.
The Eagles will have to decide if Bradford is ready to face an NFL pass rush on Sunday. Personally, I don't think he's ready, although the Eagles may. If Bradford does play, and he probably will, expect a lot of run plays and very quick passes. Otherwise, Bradford is a sitting duck."
Facing pressure and taking hits will be the real test for Bradford. It's one thing to look great in practice when there's no real pass rush involved. Sooner or later, Bradford needs to prove he can take face contact and still play well.
The seemingly good news for the Eagles is that Kelly already committed to Bradford playing in the team's second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, Aug. 22. We'll have to see if Kelly holds to his word.