Chip Kelly spoke about a number of topics before Philadelphia Eagles practice on Saturday. One of the things the head coach was asked about was his reaction to Nick Foles signing a new contract with the St. Louis Rams. To no surprise, Kelly had high praise for his former quarterback.
"I’m very happy for him," Kelly said. "I think things worked out for him. Nick is an awesome person, first and foremost, and when you get to this league, you always hope you get an opportunity to get to a second contract and it looks like he did."
While Kelly had some success with Foles, it was clear the coach didn't believe he was a long-term option in Philadelphia. The Eagles gave away Foles in the trade that sent Sam Bradford to the Eagles earlier this offseason. Kelly maintained that he wanted to keep Foles, but actions speak louder than words and now Foles is gone.
Here are some of the other topics Kelly discussed during his press conference.
The position battle at right guard
It's an ongoing battle. If it was today, then we would have had one guy just jump out in the first four days of practice and you could set it. But you always would love to have it done sooner than later but we also want to make sure it's the right guy and the right fit. So we are giving everybody ample opportunities and again with that, a lot of it, there's a huge difference between our training sessions and a game. So you can get all jacked up about somebody and say, oh, my God, here we go and then you go out against the Colts and he's not as good as you thought he was and someone else really steps up. That evaluation won't be made until we get a couple games underneath our belt.
Offensive line continuity
Doesn't matter what continuity if you have the wrong guy. That's the bottom line. Everybody feels the same way. You love to have everything locked in right now. But if we did, and we're doing it, we're locking in the wrong guy, that doesn't help us as a football team. The great part of our preseason is it is so long that it will give itself a chance to express itself over that time. You're not making a hasty decision. We’re not playing – that game against the Colts isn't counting in the standings. So it's not like, hey, we've got a game, we are starting to get into game week next week ‑‑ preseason game. It's not a regular‑season game. If it was Atlanta it would be a little bit more difficult. If it was Atlanta we would have to have it done by this weekend so we could at least get guys ready to go.
Lane Johnson's progress
I just think he is more consistent. He worked extremely hard this offseason and went to a lot of different places to train. He really settled into where – obviously, at this time last year, he knew he wasn't going to play in the first four games and he was kind of up‑and‑down. Allen [G/T Allen Barbre] got a lot of reps out there because that was where we were going from that standpoint. So I just think there's a little bit more solidified on that side of line and he’s just getting more comfortable with who the tight ends are going to be next to him and what he's going to be doing over there. I just think there's a lot more consistency going into Year Three.
G.J. Kinne's transition to wide receiver (and running back)
I think he looks real comfortable. The one thing about him, is he can play a lot of different positions. That versatility is a benefit to him. He's a lot like Brock Holt for the [Boston] Red Sox; you can plug him into a lot of different places. He can fit in at running back for us, he can still be an emergency quarterback for us and he's done a really nice job at receiver for us. He's trying to realy make a niche for himself on special teams. You know, it’ll be interesting to see when we get out against the Colts, how he fits in. [...]
He's picked up receiver because that's where he's training mostly. The running back part of it, I think a lot of that comes from his quarterback experience, in terms of what he does. But one of the things about G.J. that stands out is that when he was a quarterback, he was a really good runner of the football. So when you put him in there, I think he understands how to make people miss. He understands how to set up blocks because that's part of what he did – really, when you go back to what he did in college, he carried the ball a ton in college. I think the running backs part of it is just that he was a running quarterback, so that part is probably a little bit easier transition. The nuances are at the receiver spot and that's where he does all his training.
Raheem Mostert and Kenjon Barner competing for a fourth RB spot
They are both doing really well. I think that's an interesting ‑‑ with those two guys, I think probably the big decisions will come down from a special teams standpoint, in terms of being able to contribute. When you get past your starters at any position, especially the skill positions, it really becomes special teams’ decisions in terms of how they fit in and what they do. Obviously Kenjon has a leg up from an experience standpoint and having been here before, but Raheem has some really good qualities himself. He's extremely fast. I think he was the Big Ten 100‑, 200‑meter champion. You can kind of see him when he sticks his foot into the ground, he gets it into another gear. I think both those guys have been ‑‑ I think we have upgraded really in the bottom part of our roster in the running back spot. It will be interesting to see how that thing plays itself out.
How Sam Bradford looked in practice on Friday
I thought Sam had a good practice. He's getting more comfortable. The more 11‑on‑11 he gets and pocket awareness and things like that. I think that's what we expected when we traded for him. That's the type of player we saw on film. That's the type of guy that Pat [offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur] coached when he had him at St. Louis. I thought he had a real good day yesterday and then we have to continue to build on that.
Rookie wide receivers being more pro-ready
I just think they are throwing the ball more at the college level and even more at the high school level. So, a lot of these guys have a ton of experience. Sometimes you don't find out who guys are as receivers until maybe their junior or senior year [of college] because they get recruited and were playing in different positions in high school.
In high school, they were running backs or defensive backs or even quarterbacks that got converted at the college level to receiver, so they don't really have, to go back, the nuances of playing the position. But a lot of these guys, when you talk to them, they have been playing receiver since they were 12 years old. I think it's a little bit different.
You can go back 15 years ago and the best athletes at the younger level were all playing running back. Even a lot of those really good receivers in college were running backs in high school. Now, Nelson [WR Nelson Agholor] was a receiver and you look that Jordan [WR Jordan Matthews] was a receiver. A lot of those guys coming in now have been playing receiver for a long time. So I just think they get a little bit more experience in terms of playing the position.
Rookie undrafted free agent Malcolm Bunche
Real good, young prospect in the O‑line. He's big. He's physical. Trying to really solidify -- I think with those younger guys, and I think what Stout [offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] is doing is moving [Bunche] around a little bit. He is playing both tackle and guard, which adds to his versatility. But he can move people. He's a big, physical, strong run-blocking guy. But he does have a good base and knowledge in the pass game. So he's a guy to keep an eye on.
Offensive line versatility
They are all -- everybody, if you look every day, they have all played different positions: whether it’s Graf [T Kevin Graf], whether it's Kelly or whether it’s [C/G Julian] Vandervelde. [C David] Molk has played a lot of guard, [C Mike] Coccia has played a lot of guard. Stout is just continuing to rotate that second and third group and they are all getting reps at both guard and tackle, or the guys that are center-guards are playing center-guard; so [G] Josh Andrews, Coccia, Molk and Vandervelde are bumping day‑to‑day from center to guard. Dennis Kelly, Graf, [T/G Andrew] Gardner, all those guys are playing guard and tackle.
I just think that you have to, when you're not the number one, when we play on gameday with a 46‑man roster we have seven offensive linemen up. So those two backup offensive linemen have to be able to be ‑‑ one of them is a center-guard guy and one is a guard-tackle guy. And you don't know what is going to happen in a game.
So when someone goes out ‑‑ we win our first game against Jacksonville, we lost Evan Mathis. We lost a guard and we lost a tackle. So Molk had to play guard and I think Gardner came in and played tackle when Allen [Barbre] went down. That's just the nature of it. It’s the same thing at any position. If you're a linebacker we may only keep three outside or we may only keep three inside; if you do that, then that person has to be able to play both inside and outside when they go.
Same thing in the secondary. Are you a safety, are you corner, are you an inside receiver, are you an outside receiver? Unless you're the number one guy, then those guys have to be able to play multiple positions. Just because when you get out there on Sunday and you have a 46‑man roster you don't have two deep at every single position.
So you have to kind of make do and just be prepared that if they go, then you've got to play guard and tackle and you have to play center and guard or whatever the position.
Walter Thurmond's progress transitioning to safety
Walt has done a really nice job. That transition probably goes back to the fact that he's played inside in nickel and he's had a lot of experience inside nickel, so our nickel position is similar to a safety position.He's seen the game from the inside and I think that's the biggest transition for a corner because a lot of times, when all you've done is play corner, there's always been one guy here and 10 guys in there. When you see a different perspective of seeing things, you bump that guy inside and it's a whole different thing, you're seeing guys out here, you’re seeing guys in here, how do you fit, how do you get involved in things and I think that transition has helped him because of his ability inside. But I think he's done a really good job. When we made the move in the spring he really stood out for us in his play in the spring and he's continuing to do the same things here.
Seyi Ajirotutu's special teams skills
First off, his length I think is one of the things that's unique about him. He's got great flexibility with that length to make people avoid and miss blocks, but he can get extended and make plays. When you look at his highlight tape of what he did on special teams, he's always kind of getting around the block and can reach and grab people because he's so long. He can find the football.
He's not easily blocked so he is a great cover guy, whether it be on punt coverage or kickoff cover. So there's a lot of different things there. He understands his niche of getting into the National Football League was really embracing that role on special teams and he was a standout player for San Diego. So now it's a combination of just like I said earlier, if you are not the number one receiver, which he's not, then where do you fit in and what's your versatility and I think he's shown that so far.