The sun is out over the steamy fields of NovaCare, with 28 rookies and select vets scheduled to practice this afternoon. There were 30, originally, but a couple of free agent rookies, punter Brad Wing and running back Matt Tucker, flunked their conditioning test Monday and were put on the nonfootball injury list. They will come off the list when they pass the timed running test.
Your Eagletarian is gonna go out on a limb, though, and say flunking the conditioning test is a poor way to get started with new coach Chip Kelly, who emphasizes conditioning. It's probably a poor way to get started with any coach, but especially this one. And it isn't like either Wing or Tucker has any margin for error; Wing is here to compete with two-time Pro Bowl punter Donnie Jones, who is the strong favorite to win the job. Tucker is the only rookie running back, and the longest shot to make the squad.
Usually, these two days of individual attention are important for getting the rookies ready to match the pace of the veterans, who are scheduled to report Thursday. But with new coaches and systems, the veterans probably could use a bit of brushup themselves; they might be asking the rookies for tips when the full squad takes the field Friday.
"Usually, some of the vets'll tell you what training camp is like," said first-round offensive tackle Lane Johnson, when asked if he is curious about what awaits. "This is their rookie season with Chip. We're all kind of wide-eyed and trying to learn."
Johnson spent two weeks working out with veteran guard Evan Mathis, at Mathis's Arizona facility. "Really good place. I liked it because it's low-key, not too many people come," Johnson said.
Johnson said he is ready to start as a rookie.
"It's what I got drafted for, to play some football," he said. "I'm ready to go out there and compete. I expect to compete at a high level from Day 1."