Heading into the second day of pads for the Eagles, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke to the media about the distribution of training camp reps, what he’s seeing from the rookie linebackers, and why bringing Vinny Curry back was a bonus.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On training camp
As far as the other starting corner position (opposite Darius Slay), Schwartz said there will be a lot of different players taking reps there during camp. He talked about trying out a lot of different combinations, and also with some guys having off days, there will be players taking snaps with the 1s.
“We’ve seen the last few years, how important it is to plug players in and still have a level of success, so we’ve always tried to do that during training camp, anyway. Just, sort of, throw different groups out there and mix and match guys. Number 1, to be able to see players against different competition — so you’re not working against the same guys all training camp — but Number 2, just to have a comfort level with the other guys that are out there.”
Schwartz said that competition isn’t the only reason they look at guys in different spots, but Doug Pederson has made sure they have opportunities to see things that are as close to game situations as they can simulate. With those opportunities, they’ll have a chance to see everyone as they make their evaluations.
The DC later talked about how they have two concurrent agendas: 1) Get players ready for Washington in Week 1, and 2) Try to develop and evaluate players.
“I think Coach Pederson’s done a really good job of mixing periods in practice that way. We have some periods that are very specific toward trying to get a group, that’s already experienced, ready to play. And then we have enough other periods where we can see guys and evaluate and develop. I think it’s going to be an ongoing thing this year.”
He noted that with an abbreviated training camp, the development phase doesn’t end in Week 1.
On the young LBs
Schwartz was asked about the three rookie linebackers and whether they’ll realistically be able to catch up enough to contribute early on in the season. The DC explained that linebacker and safety were two of the hardest positions to try and get up to speed with — and that’s true even with a full offseason program for rookies, with OTAs, minicamp, and full preseason schedule.
“Their learning has to be accelerated. All three of those guys are smart guys and have adapted well, and now it’s just a matter of accumulating as many reps as we can get. And, when we do have those heavy contact practices, those are going to be really important in our evaluations. There’s no grading on a curve with this. ”
He went on to say that the players will need to be ready whenever their name is called, so whether that’s Week 2 or Week 16, it’s the coaches job to make sure they’re prepared. But, they’re working hard and looking good.
On Derek Barnett
Despite several players lauding Barnett’s offseason, he was on the injured list for Monday’s first padded practice. Schwartz said that he doesn’t think Barnett’s size is a contributor to his injuries, but it’s a physical game and he plays a physical position.
“Derek plays so hard, and plays so wide open, he doesn’t take any plays off. I still am very pleased with where Derek is and I think he’s going to have an outstanding year this year.”
On Vinny Curry
Schwartz was asked whether bringing Vinny Curry back meant fewer reps and opportunites for young guys like Josh Sweat, Genard Avery, and Shareef Miller.
“I think Vinny had an outstanding year for us last year, one of his best. So, it was good to get him back. He’s a veteran player that — we talked about some of these younger guys needing all these reps and everything, and Vinny is a guy that needs to get ready, doesn’t quite need as many reps. So, I don’t think it’ll hurt the development of the younger guys.
You’re not going to find a coach that says more good players is a bad situation, so we added a good player, a trusted player in our scheme, a guy that’s had success in our scheme, a guy means a lot to our locker room and our spirit. So we added a guy like that, I see that as a bonus. It’s not going to take away from the development of those younger guys.”