Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chip on his lopsided Oregon players: 'Like having good football players'

When the Eagles traded for running back Kenjon Barner it gave Chip Kelly nine former Oregon players that he coached in college on his roster.

Chip on his lopsided Oregon players: 'Like having good football players'


When the Eagles traded for running back Kenjon Barner it gave Chip Kelly nine former Oregon players that he coached in college on his roster.

The team trimmed its 90-man roster to 76 on Saturday and all nine former Ducks remained. While several aren’t expected to be on the final 53-man roster, Kelly explained why he liked having Oregon products on his team.

“I like having good football players,” Kelly said. “So we think the guys we have here are good football players. There’s another 20 or 30 other Oregon guys that are in this league that are on other teams. They’re good football players. Got a lot of Cincinnati guys [4] – they’re good football players. That’s how we look at it.”

But the number of former Oregon players on the Eagles roster is disproportionately high compared with the rest of the league. There were 39 former Oregon players on NFL rosters as of Friday, or 1 percent of NFL rosters. Ten percent of the Eagles’ 90-man roster was made up of former Ducks and now 12 percent of the 76-man roster after Saturday’s cuts.

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The players are wide receivers Josh Huff, Jeff Maehl and Will Murphy, defensive ends Taylor Hart and Brandon Bair, nose tackle Wade Keliikipi, linebackers Josh Kaddu and Casey Matthews and Barner.

Huff (third round) and Hart (fifth round) were drafted in May and will make the final roster. Bair has made a strong push in the preseason and is likely to stay after spending most of last season on the practice squad. Maehl could be back for another season.

The same could be said of Matthews, who was the only former Duck to be on the roster before Kelly arrived last year. Barner, who can also return kicks and punts, was acquired earlier this week for a conditional seventh-round draft pick. There is competition for the last one or two running backs spots with Chris Polk, Matthew Tucker and Henry Josey also in the mix.

Murphy, Keliikipi and Kaddu are possible practice squad candidates.

The Eagles signed former Oregonians Patrick Chung and Dennis Dixon as free agents last offseason. Chung, a safety, was released this offseason and caught on with the Patriots. Dixon was waived before last season and is currently on the Bills roster.

Kelly was asked if familiarity had anything to do with the lopsided number of Oregon alums.

“It’s a combination,” Kelly said. “There was a stretch there for four years where they were really good and those guys were a part of that group.”

Oregon went 46-7 during the four seasons when Kelly was head coach. The Ducks reached the national championship in 2010, but lost to Auburn.


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