Monday is more than opening day for the Phillies. In a certain way, it could also be considered an opening day for the Eagles, too.
Since Chip Kelly was hired, he has been ambiguous and evasive when asked about plans pertaining to specific players because he has not yet had the chance to work with them, or even talk football with them. Conversations have been limited to get-to-know-you discussion -- where do you live, how's your family, etc. -- but nothing about actual Xs and Os, per the collective bargaining agreeement.
Kelly did not complain about the rule, but it has limited all his evaluation to film.
"We knew the rules going in," Kelly said. "I’ve never looked at it and said, `Boy, I wish I had these guys in March.’ It’s just what you’re dealing with. The thing about this league that’s awesome is everybody has the same rules. It’s consistent."
However, it begins to change today. It's April 1, which is technically the first day of the Eagles' offseason program. Phase 1 begins in earnest this week, when players can lift weights, condition, and there can be team meetings. That lasts for two weeks. Here are the key upcoming dates.
First Day: April 1
OTA Offseason Workouts: May 13-15, May 20-22, May 28-31
Voluntary Minicamp: April 16-18
Mandatory Minicamp: June 4-6
The voluntary minicamp is an interesting to note, because the Eagles are one of eight teams that get this camp. Teams with new head coaches get this camp, so this will be the time Chip Kelly actually gets to work with his veterans. The team will be present, on the field, with the coaching staff.
This is the first time the Eagles can actually practice, and the last time before the rookies join the mix. Phase 2 is a three weeks of the offseason program, and includes individual on-field instruction and team practices on a "separates" basis. There is no live contact allowed, nor team offense vs. team defense.
The next four weeks are Phase 3, which allows for 10 days of organized team activities (OTAs). This does not allow for live contact, but teams are allowed to have 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills.
More dates to watch in coming weeks will be the rookie football development program, which can last seven weeks and begins May 13. The Eagles will also hold a rookie minicamp on either the first or second weekend following the draft.
The offseason program is especially significant for the Eagles. Kelly's time so far has been devoted to assembling staff, planning for the draft and free agency, and going through free agency. But he has not yet been allowed to actually coach. That changes this month, which is why Monday is an important day for Kelly.