Many new Eagles arrive with a clean slate

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Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford, #7, left, gives a thumbs up sign to Eagles personel on the sidelines after Monday's practice. Eagles practice at the NovaCare Center. 06/08/2015 ( MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer )

THE OBJECTS of change are largely unblemished or have the best of handlers at their sides.

Chip Kelly, the agent of change, seized power in January then gutted a team that, in 2014, won 10 games and finished a whisker behind a wild-card spot; gutted it to the degree that more than 45 percent of the starting lineup will be new this season.

That's 10 of the top 22 players. Eight of those 10 players were part of the 10-win playoff team in 2013, Kelly's first season.

The number could grow to be higher than 10. Nothing guarantees that extraordinary blockers Riley Cooper and Brent Celek will retain their starting jobs, considering their diminished production levels.

Poll

Which new Eagle are you most excited about seeing at training camp?

This places an enormous burden on the coaching staff to insert fresh faces into an established system. On some levels, that can be a trickier task than introducing an entirely new system to an entire team. Integration can be more delicate than overhaul.

Integration works best with clean slates.

To a large degree, the players the Eagles seek to integrate are clean slates.

Of course, new quarterback Sam Bradford will have the toughest job assimilating to the system, along with featured running back DeMarco Murray. But there's something to be said for the ability of Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to squeeze competence out of three passers who generally were considered average at best.

Michael Vick flailed behind an inconsistent line early in 2013, but he enjoyed a flawless training camp and won the job over Nick Foles. After Vick was injured, Foles flourished when the line righted itself. Last season, after Foles was lost, Mark Sanchez, of all people, turned in an acceptable job as understudy.

Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy became the most dangerous runner in football.

Certainly, Bradford and Murray, with their pedigrees, should quickly shine, too.

What about third-year, 31-year-old guard/tackle Allen Barbre? Well, Barbre was released four times in his six seasons before landing in Philadelphia in 2013. He played in 32 games, seven as a starter, none in 2012, partly because he was suspended for PED use. Seven starts in six years don't exactly ingrain bad habits.

You don't have to teach an old dog new tricks when he never learned any to begin with.

Similarly, homegrown hybrid Matt Tobin signed as a rookie free agent in 2013. He impressed Kelly and Co. enough to become the sixth lineman as they entered the 2014 season, but an ankle injury delayed his inclusion, and, apparently, his development. He struggled in place of both Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans, the cerebral guard duo Barbre and Tobin are tasked to replace.

It might be a taller task for free-agent splurge Byron Maxwell. He vaulted from sixth-round role player his first three seasons in Seattle to the Hot New Thing last year, which earned him $25 million in guaranteed money from the Eagles. However, what is asked of him in Philadelphia isn't drastically different from what was asked of him as a part of Seattle's epic defense . . . except Maxwell does not have three potential Hall of Famers playing next to him in the secondary. If Maxwell fails, it will not be because he doesn't get it.

Much was made of Nolan Carroll's arrival from Miami last season, but he never unseated struggling starters; neither Bradley Fletcher nor Cary Williams. Carroll knows the system, but the Eagles spent a second-round pick on Eric Rowe. Second-round picks who cannot supplant undrafted bench players have wasted a year. There is no reason for a rebuilt team to waste a year of a talented, untainted player.

The Eagles opted to re-sign converted defensive end Brandon Graham over retaining converted defensive end (and $10 million man) Trent Cole, so that outside linebacker spot needs no introduction to the system.

Assuming Kiko Alonso plays inside ahead of one of the incumbents (and that assumption must be made considering the hype that surrounded his acquisition from Buffalo for McCoy) Alonso's introduction will be key. He was outstanding as a rookie in coordinator Mike Pettine's scheme, which, like the Eagles', generally was a 3-4 but often acted as a 4-3. Pettine left after Alonso's rookie season and was replaced by Jim Schwartz, a 4-3 devotee - but Alonso never played for Schwartz. Alonso missed 2014 with a knee injury.

Finally, safety Walter Thurmond ranks as the most intriguing and least accomplished of the current replacements. A lightly used reserve for the Seahawks his first five seasons, Thurmond tore a chest muscle last season with the Giants and only played in two games. Then again, Thurmond, who will be 28 when the season starts, converted from corner to safety in May.

Now, that's a clean slate.


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