The lesson that Eagles running back LeSean McCoy learned after the team released DeSean Jackson in March was that any player is vulnerable if he does not "buy in." McCoy implied that the team's decision went beyond statistics and production.
"No matter how good a player is, it's a team, and if you can't buy in, anything's possible," McCoy said Wednesday.
The Pro Bowl running back expounded on comments he made to NFL.com last week. He said he was speaking for himself and did not know whether others on the team viewed Jackson's release as a by-product of not buying into coach Chip Kelly's philosophy and demands.
Kelly previously said that Jackson's release was "purely a football decision," that he "came to practice and did everything we asked him to do," and that there was no discord with the Pro Bowl receiver. Jackson had 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but owner Jeffrey Lurie said the Eagles decided to "reconfigure the wide receiver position."
Even wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell said this week that he had a "great relationship" with Jackson, despite video that caught a sideline spat in Minnesota between the two.
But McCoy, whose profile on the team and in the league allows him to speak honestly, hinted that the decision was not based on on-field production.
"A player like that who had done so much for this franchise - even in the year that Chip was here, the stuff he did - some players, some teams may think he's producing on the field, so that's the only thing that matters," McCoy said.
Jackson's release did not make McCoy think twice about his actions because he is confident that he has bought into the culture that Kelly has created and the demands of the second-year coach.
"I like to do things the right way anyway, just in general," McCoy said. "I don't think it changed too much. It's the small things that you think no one really cares about. But in reality, they do. I try to, I think, take care of the small things, small details, and just do your work and have fun doing it, and do it to the best of my capability."
McCoy's work on the practice field was evident by the sweat dripping from his face after Wednesday's practice, the second of three sessions in this week's mandatory minicamp. He was the lone player who wore sweat pants in the sweltering heat, which was a sign for other players and observers.
"It's a mental thing," McCoy said. "So hot, people say, 'He's wearing sweat pants.' I mean, I made it [through practice]. Probably had one of my best practices today."
McCoy, who led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards last season, is poised to etch his name in the team's record book. Only 25 years old, McCoy is fourth on the Eagles' career rushing list and only 1,065 yards behind No. 1 Wilbert Montgomery.
Told how close he was to the record, McCoy smiled and said: "That's it?"
"I won't say a given. Nothing's a given," McCoy said. "But that's another goal to put into my list of things to get done. Hopefully guys up front, blocking the way they've been blocking the last couple of years, hopefully I get it done."
The Eagles will practice for the final time Thursday morning before training camp begins in late July. . . . Kelly said that he is "really impressed" with cornerback Nolan Carroll, and that the free-agent acquisition has "every opportunity" to earn a starting job. . . . When asked which cornerbacks and wide receivers have impressed him this spring, Kelly mentioned Carroll, Roc Carmichael, and Brandon Boykin at cornerback, and Will Murphy and Ifeanyi Momah at wide receiver. Kelly limited his answer mostly to under-the-radar players.