After just one training camp practice, the Eagles were already scheduled for a day of walk-throughs on Thursday to give players a chance to rest. Head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday and explained that the medical and conditioning staffs found an increase in soft tissue injuries on Day 3 of camp — and not just in Philly, but around the league — leading them to revise their schedule.
We saw in 2021 that Sirianni runs camp a little differently, with much shorter practices than usual, and a considerable amount of time dedicated to meetings and walk-throughs — mental reps, the head coach argues, are just as important as physical reps. The Eagles previously had a rest day for veterans on Day 4, which has since turned into a Day 3 rest day for the whole team.
On Day 3 of last season’s training camp, Brandon Brooks went out with a hamstring injury and Travis Fulgham was listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury. And it was on Day 3 of the Colts’ camp that Carson Wentz injured his foot. Some other Day 3 injuries last year include SAF Eddie Jackson (Bears - hamstring), WR Justin Jefferson (Vikings - ac joint), and TE Jacob Hollister (Bills - back). Losing Brooks alone would have made the case to move up the rest day, but the staff likely saw a trend league-wide to support the changes.
When asked about having shorter and fewer live practices, Fletcher Cox admitted he “absolutely” appreciates this kind of schedule at this stage in his career. He was quick to point out, however, that fewer reps means they all have to take advantage of the live reps they do get and make the most of the walk-through time, as well. Brandon Graham echoed Cox’s appreciation, and also lauded the coaches and staff for putting a schedule together that prioritizes players health.
With the Eagles having such a young team, it’s fair to question how the team balances keeping everyone healthy versus getting them prepared. After a shortened camp schedule in 2021, the team went on to set a new franchise record for penalties committed through three games with 35. They played undisciplined football, and it took weeks to get things cleaned up.
Sirianni has talked about how they use OTAs and the offseason to work on players’ fundamentals and details, and that training camp is when they put it altogether. This is something the head coach argues can also be done with mental reps, which take much less time to setup and therefore allows them to get in more work than the live reps. A lack of live reps could be pointed to for some of the penalties drawn last season, and the subsequent drop off as players saw more games and playing time.
The head coach has previously talked about their shorter practices and explained that they are meticulously planned, so there’s no down time and everything is full speed. They don’t practice longer, but they practice harder. Sirianni has also touched on the importance of joint practices, and how they provide just as much game-like experience as a preseason game. The Eagles have two joint practices this preseason, further reducing the number of live reps they need to take early in Week 1 of camp.
The Eagles new schedule seems to make players happy and the purpose behind it is to keep players healthy. You’d hope that at this stage in these players’ careers, they know how to maximize their time on and off the field, and use the extra rest as a benefit versus a hindrance. Of course, this will be the first thing blamed when they look unpolished in their first preseason game, but even that won’t be a true measure of the schedule’s success — how many healthy bodies we have going into the regular season will be.
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