OTA

Eagles’ OTA updates…hoping Chip Kelly is on to something big…

Seems like an eternity since the whistle blew on the last play of the 2012 season for the Eagles…  but here we are, contemplating the completion of Chip Kelly's third full week of "voluntary" full-team OTA's…

I think the guy is on to something big in the way he conducted the pace and rhythm of his practices… not to mention the installation of both a set of new plays but an entirely different mentality from the Andy Reid era.

Andy was all like "Yeah, we know what we got, let's drill it and fine-tune it…" Kelly is more all about " I don't have a clue as to what we've really got here, but I'm gonna spank it hard until I find out…"

Chip Kelly is a spanker.

More accurately, his system of talent evaluation is a spanker.

First up, let's take attendance…

Starting running back LeSean McCoy wasn't there for practice on Friday. He did participate in meetings and left in the morning to take care of personal business. Star wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring) watched the action from the sidelines, offseason acquisitions Cary Williams (daughter's dance recital) and safety Kenny Phillips (expecting wife) and offensive tackle Jason Peters (personal reasons) didn't attend, and veteran offensive linemen Todd Herremans spent much of the afternoon talking to coaches rather than taking reps. It was easily the mellowest of the four workouts open to the media.

What was also noticeable was the disproportionate number of snaps taken by quarterbacks Nick Foles and Michael Vick. Foles received 42 reps while Vick collected 28 .

In what seems to be a daily rotation, Foles also took the initial first-team snaps. [Vick began with the first team when practice was open to the media on Tuesday.]

Brandon Boykin, CB, was getting a lot of traffic thrown his way on Friday at NovaCare…

There were a variety of reasons for Foles' bigger workload. The biggest was his performance during some of the drills. On one possession where it was ruled that Vick was sacked on third down, the veteran only took three reps. Foles drove the second-team offense downfield immediately after and ran seven plays, compared to Vick's three. It also unfolded where Foles' turn came around during the final period of the practice. The second-year quarterback ran the final six plays of OTAs. Vick didn't run any during the final period.

Danny Watkins was back with the first team, this time playing right guard while Herremans worked some with the second team before taking the rest of the day off. Coach Chip Kelly isn't lying when he continues to reiterate the Eagles are "just rolling guys" in and out of the first and second team to get a better look at what they can do in his system.

This week was defensive end Clifton Geathers' turn to run with the first-team defense. When OTAs began Cedric Thornton started as the right defensive end or five-technique. Fletcher Cox has been the right defensive end (three-technique) with Isaac Sopoaga as the nose tackle.

The Eagles threw a lot of fade patterns to the corner of the end zone during individual and team drills on Friday. In fact, there was one period where the wide receivers ran and the quarterbacks threw fade routes for four minutes straight. That's a stark change from the previous regime, where jump balls were rarely thrown in the end zone at practice and even rarer in actual game situations.

What did the Eagles actually accomplish during three weeks of OTAs? Offensively Jason Avant said they became more familiar with the plays and what Chip wants. Bryce Brown added that OTAs was the third time the Eagles had a chance to rehearse the initial installation of Kelly's offense. The first was when the offseason program began at the beginning of the April, the second was when the rookie arrived at the beginning of the month and the third was at full-team OTAs. Brown also said he expects Kelly to add even more to the Eagles offense come training camp.

 Friday marked the conclusion of optional OTAs. Mandatory minicamp is next week from Tuesday to Thursday. After that the Eagles are off until training camp.

Meanwhile big-mouth CB Cary Williams is putting a new meaning to the term "voluntary"…

Nearly every member of the Eagles active roster has been in town over the last month for Organized Team Activities (OTAs). With a new coach in town, a new system to learn, and a 4-12 record to bounce back from, the reality is that these workouts were anything but voluntary.

That is why the attitude of Williams has ruffled some feathers amongst Eagles fans, and now it appears it has the team upset as well.

While the team owes no explanation as to why a player misses OTA's, the Eagles said on Friday that Williams was not there due to his "daughter's dance recital." When other players- such as Jason Peters- have been absent, it has been explained away as "personal reasons." LeSean McCoy left early Friday due to "personal reasons"…

With Williams, however, the team was very specific, and did not try to hide the reasoning. Williams was yet again absent due to something— fair or not— that many fans feel he shouldn't  have caused him to miss practice with his new team . The absence could have been easily explained away as "personal." By letting the media know the exact reason, the Eagles appear to be venting some frustration with their new cornerback.

Whether or not you think Williams should have missed his daughter's dance recital is personal preference. It's hard to tell anyone that they should place work over family, regardless of pay. Williams may make more money than most fans will ever dream of making, but that doesn't mean his child's recital will be scheduled around Chip Kelly's plans.

You also have to wonder how the NFLPA will feel about the Eagles being so specific about why Williams wasn't there. It's hard to imagine they didn't know how this would play with the fans, and that there would be backlash on Williams for it.

The truth is that if Williams is the player this season (2013) he was with the Ravens last year, all of this missed practice time will be easily forgiven. Williams is exactly the kind of physical corner the team desperately needs.

If he struggles early, however, fans will be quick to bring up his decision to attend a dance recital over practice.

It's all so stupid. It's a long season. Guys (even guys like Cary Williams who are big-mouthed trash-talkers) are entitled to their family life obligations. It suits them. We should be glad that Williams even cares about his family and his daughter. Unless it turns out that Williams actually flew out to Vegas for a fund-raiser for the launch of DJax's new rap single, I am totally okay with his excuse for an absence.

Besides, these OTA's are extremely boring for very talented athletes.

Sorry—but that's the way it is…

 

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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