Eagles coach Andy Reid made a rare trip to the media work room today to announce that Eagles practices no longer will be open to reporters.
Previously, reporters were allowed to watch the full Thursday and Friday practices, and the first 10 minutes on Wednesday. The first 10 minutes -- mainly an opportunity for TV and still photography -- will still be open all three days, Reid said, but because reporters are able to "put things together," he will not keep the remainder of those workouts open, as was the custom his first 13 seasons.
Reid said that 27 of the other 31 NFL teams do not allow reporters at practice, and he has come to feel it is an issue of competitive advantage, especially now that information spreads so quickly, through social media.
The Eagles have always restricted what can be reported from practice. Matters of strategy and personnel were taboo, but there was a gray area with personnel; if, say, Jamar Chaney was taking first-team nickel reps, you couldn't say that, but you could ask Chaney about it in the locker room afterward, and use what he said. But there has been friction over the years over exactly how gray the gray area was -- things have been reported that the team felt should not have been; reporters, after all, are in the business of reporting, not of helping teams keep secrets. Some of us have been uncomfortable agreeing to not report what we see.
Now, reporters -- and fans -- won't know when lineup changes are being made, or if someone gets injured during practice, until the injury report is released. It will be harder for practice-day stories to reflect any feel of how the day went.
Despite Reid's reputation for not wanting to say much, the Eagles have offered a lot of access by the standards of the incredibly paranoid NFL.
Reid said no specific incident triggered his decision. Last week, reporters noticed Chaney taking reps instead of DeMeco Ryans, and Bryce Brown getting more running back reps than Dion Lewis. Both of these observations eventually were reported, though in fact, Chaney did not get any of Ryans' reps in the Cleveland game, so it would be hard to argue the Eagles were harmed.
"My No. 1 priority here is to win football games and to put the best product on the field," Reid said. "Just to minimize any of the competitiove advantages that take place, I want to do this. I think it's best for the fans, it's best for our football team ... you guys are the best in the business at what you do, and you can put things together. I just want to minimize anything, any competitive advantage that another team might possibly have."
Reid also announced that DeSean Jackson has a hamstring issue and won't practice today. Ditto Jeremy Maclin (hip).