Eagles begin new era under Chip Kelly

By ROB MAADDI - AP Pro Football Writer
    2013-07-23 12:28

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Chip Kelly is the talk of the NFL entering his first training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Everyone wants to know if Kelly's unique approach and his high-octane offense will work at the next level. Even general manager Howie Roseman is excited to see how Kelly will handle his first camp.

``Being part of the offseason, seeing how his practices were run at Oregon, spending a lot of time with him, I think I have an idea of how it's going to be run,'' Roseman said. ``But until you get into it in the moment and know about it, we've never been here, I've never been here, none of us have ever been here. Even just the logistics of being here, being over at the stadium, I think that's the exciting part of it, seeing how that part of it works out.''

Kelly has a tough task ahead, turning around a team that went 4-12 under Andy Reid last year. He's changed the way the Eagles do everything, including where they go camping. The team is holding training camp at its practice facility in Philadelphia after 17 years at Lehigh University.

Five things to know about the Eagles going into camp:

1. IT'S AN ARMS RACE: Michael Vick and Nick Foles are competing for the starting job at quarterback, but don't rule out rookie Matt Barkley. Vick lost the job to Foles after getting injured last year. The four-time Pro Bowl QB restructured his contract and returned to Philadelphia eager to learn Kelly's flash-and-dash offense. Vick has the edge in athleticism and mobility, but Kelly insists ``repetitive accuracy'' is his top priority for a starter. That seems to fit Foles and Barkley more than Vick, so it should be an interesting competition throughout camp.

2. BLOCKING WOUNDED: Four-fifths of Philadelphia's projected starting offensive line is coming off surgery. Jason Peters, Todd Herremans, Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis each are returning from surgery, but could provide a formidable front, if healthy, along with rookie first-round pick Lane Johnson, the No. 4 overall selection. Of course, Kelly's up-and-down style requires quick, in-shape linemen who can handle the pressure of taking all those snaps. If some of the starters are slowed early on because they're still recovering, they could lose their jobs.

3. LET'S NOT GET PHYSICAL: Reid was known for his tough, hard-hitting, physical practices during camp. Kelly, however, is a new-wave coach who made a point to stress he wants his players to stay healthy and not hurt each other. His practice sessions are much shorter than a typical NFL coach, but they're fast-paced, high-tempo and involve running a great number of plays. Kelly also has to make many roster decisions and choose starters at several positions, so he has to find a way to get an accurate evaluation of players while preventing them from beating each other down.

4. D-E-F-E-N-S-E!!! Fans that took pride in rooting for ferocious defenders like Brian Dawkins, Reggie White, Chuck Bednarik for decades suffered a major letdown the last couple seasons. A once-fearsome defense was an embarrassing soft spot for the Eagles in 2012. Reid tried three different coordinators in four years after longtime assistant Jim Johnson passed away in 2009. Now, it's Billy Davis' turn and he's going with a hybrid 3-4 defense. Holdover ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham will try to make the transition to stand-up attackers while other veterans also adjust to a new scheme.

5. WHAT'S THE PLAYLIST? Kelly's spring practice sessions featured loud music blaring through speakers on the field. It's certainly a different way to bring noise into the stadium, and it forces players to focus even harder on what they're doing. Reporters had fun the first few days of offseason workouts charting Kelly's taste in music. It included nearly every genre and ranged from Nicki Minaj to Bruce Springsteen. ``There's a lot of science behind it,'' Kelly said. ``I can't really get into the details of it but there's some science behind it. We've used it for a while.''


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

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