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Barkley eagerly learning new system

The rookie quarterback talks about the challenges and also the assets he brings to Chip Kelly's offense.

Barkley eagerly learning new system

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley practices at the team´s NFL football training facility, Friday, May 31, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley practices at the team's NFL football training facility, Friday, May 31, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Matt Barkley's arm has looked anywhere from "decent" to "pretty good" in OTAs. As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock noted during Friday's final OTA session, none of the Eagles' other four quarterbacks throws as effortlessly as Michael Vick, which might be a big part of why Vick is still here, learning a new system, under a new coach, as he closes in on his 33rd birthday, after back-to-back disappointing seasons.

We won't know until well into training camp, if then, whether Barkley, the polished fourth-round rookie from USC, has the throwing chops to be a starting NFL quarterback. But in the month since the draft, Barkley has hinted at some impressive assets, that very well could make him Chip Kelly's quarterback of the future, if not his quarterback of 2013.

"He's a very 'on' kind of guy. I'll come in here early in the morning, he's already here. I leave here later than everybody, and Barkley's still here working," rookie free agent wideout Ifeanyi Momah said after Friday's sweltering workout. "He's always trying to find any advantage he can get. He's always in the offices of the coaches; he works his behind off.

"I think everybody knows he can throw the ball ... I think (the challenge) is him just getting more reps, to experience the offense more."

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Momah said one challenge for Barkley and everyone else in Kelly's hurryup system is that it isn't something you can fully grasp in the classroom, without doing it.

"it's hard to sit down and look at film of other guys" and get a decent feel, Momah said. "If you're getting those reps, you can learn off the film where you're makiing a mistake, and just learn off of that."

As Barkley acknowledged Friday, most of his reps this week have been with the second and third teams. Right now, Vick and Nick Foles seem to be splitting the first-team reps. Does Barkley worry if he'll get the chance to compete for the starting job he made no secret of coveting when he arrived for rookie camp?

“That’s not my decision; that’s up to the coaches. I’m a member of this team and I’m just doing the best with what reps I’ve gotten," Barkley said.

He's had some time to work with the offense now. How does he think it's going?

"There seems to be something new every day … I do feel much more comfortable with it, with the philosophy of the offense and the terminology and whatnot, and a lot of the reads," Barkley said. "But it’s a constant challenge to see how you can get better, how you can further understand this offense."

He said he does think the system can fit his skills, even though he is not a fleet read-option runner.

"I think Chip will play it to whoever’s strength is back there. You need to have quick decision-making, you need to understand your ‘hots,’ (hot reads vs. blitzes), and I think I’ve thrived in all of those areas over my career. When the deep ball is called, I can make those shots. When the intermediate routes are called, I can make those shots. When the option is called, I can make that shot,” Barkley said.

The biggest obstacle to geting comfortable is experience in the system, Barkley said, echoing Momah.

“Just making sure you’re on top of the terminology and visualizing everything. It’s so quick, once you hear the call, you want to be able to visualize it, just paint the picture in your head right away so you can see it," Barkley said. "The first couple of days that was a challenge; naturally it is, for everyone. After a couple of days, you start to get a glimpse of what’s going on, so you can stop worrying about what the routes are and focus on the defense.”

***

Next Tuesday is the start of the three-day full-team mandatory minicamp. That presumably means CB Cary Williams, who earlier this week lamented missing a month of work for various personal reasons, will have to be at NovaCare. Despite his lamentation, Williams missed Friday's work because of a daughter's dance recital in Tennessee, the Eagles said..

Also sitting out were safety Kenny Phillips -- who was missing because his wife was about to deliver a baby, and not because of his knee, the Eagles said -- and wideout DeSean Jackson, who watched practice but didn't particpate with a presumably minor ankle problem.

RB LeSean McCoy also did not practice. The Eagles said McCoy lifted, worked out, attended meetings, then left before practce to attend to "personal business."

OT Jason Peters remained absent for personal reasons.

Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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