Friday, December 19, 2014

Eagles in the a.m.: Chip Kelly on preseason routine, RB depth chart, and keeping Keelan Johnson

**At this time last season, Chip Kelly had never experienced preseason football. At Oregon, he had three intrasquad scrimmages with the officials present, but both sides were obviously familiar with the schemes and the plays. Kelly is always looking for better or more efficient ways to do something, so I was curious if his first go-around at an NFL preseason created a different approach this week and this month.

Eagles in the a.m.: Chip Kelly on preseason routine, RB depth chart, and keeping Keelan Johnson

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (right) with assistant coach Duce Staley (left). (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Eagles head coach Chip Kelly (right) with assistant coach Duce Staley (left). (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

**At this time last season, Chip Kelly had never experienced preseason football. At Oregon, he had three intrasquad scrimmages with the officials present, but both sides were obviously familiar with the schemes and the plays. Kelly is always looking for better or more efficient ways to do something, so I was curious if his first go-around at an NFL preseason created a different approach this week and this month.

The short answer is "no," but it includes a window into Kelly's thinking.

"In terms of our schedule and how we'll handle it, it won't be any different," Kelly said. " When we go with our Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday when we go with the Patriots next week will be just like last year's Tuesday, Wednesday,Thursday.  The only difference is we started going against another team and then the second week we kind of got into some game week.

"We have three really hard days of work that we have to get in this week, and 48 hours before the game we'll slow it down a little bit because we have to do some work on the Bears. The fortunate thing for us is we did face the Bears in the second to last regular season game so we got a little bit of understanding from them so we can give our guys an understanding of what they are going to do."

Kelly sees significant value in the preseason, and it's not just getting a truer evaluation of his players. The game experience is useful for some of the intangibles characteristics that Kelly seeks.

"I think the great thing about the preseason obviously is that you get to take your team on the road," Kelly said. "You get to see what they are like in different environments, obviously for some of our players, just last week, leaving the NovaCare [Complex] and coming over to [Lincoln Financial Field], there was a change for them.  You're trying to put them in some different situations and see how they react."

**If the Eagles keep four running backs, it sure looks like it will be Matthew Tucker. There are still four preseason games to play, so Henry Josey and David Fluellen will have an opportunity to change the depth chart. But the Eagles like what they see from Tucker, who started on practice squad last season before being signed to the active roster on Oct. 19. He was active for only two games. Kelly made a point during the spring to reference how impressed the staff was with him.

"We are really happy with Tuck last year and came on as the season went along for us," Kelly said. "So he's kind of firmly entrenched in that fourth spot right now behind those other three, and then it really goes back and forth on a daily basis between [David] Fluellen and [Henry] Josey and where they are.

"And a big test for those guys will be this Friday many coming up against the Bears when you get to see them in game action, because the full contact, taking it to the ground. All that other stuff will occur on Friday night and that will be a little different for them.  They have to understand, not only the running back spot, but especially if you're going to be down the depth chart at the running back spot it's your contributions on special teams so we'll see where those guys fit in on that standpoint, [special teams] coach [Dave] Fipps' group."

**Keelan Johnson expressed appreciation for Chip Kelly keeping him on the roster.  Kelly said he sees the potential in Johnson, and this is the first time Johnson has made a mistake in Philadelphia. Also, the case is still ongoing, so Kelly did not want to cut bait.

"I think first and foremost, he knows he made a mistake, but that still hasn't been kind of gone through ‑‑ he hasn't been to court and hasn't gone through that whole process so I really don't know the whole part of that," Kelly said. "The only thing we know right now is Keelan's version of what went on. There's still a process that he has to go through from that standpoint that is truly out of our hands and should be out of our hands so we should see how that process plays out.

"Since he's been here it was the first mistake he's made.  I think he has the skill set, you know, we kept him last year and we got a chance to pick him up.  He showed some things when we saw him on the practice squad and got a chance when Colt got injured late in the year to play for us."

FROM THE INQUIRER

- Earl Wolff took longer than anticipated to return to practice. The Inquirer story on Wolff's return, and the nebulous dilemma of playing hurt.

- How and why the Eagles will play more dime this season, from Jeff McLane.

- The confusion of Cary Williams sitting, and an injury update in notes.

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