Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Full Transcript: Eagles head coach Chip Kelly on Darren Sproles, roster battles and the weather

Eagles running back Darren Sproles. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Eagles running back Darren Sproles. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly met with the media on Wednesday and talked about various roster battles, how the weather impacts practice, and the role of Darren Sproles.

Here's a full transcript:

Q. If Alex Henery continues to struggle with his kickoffs during the preseason, would you ever consider bringing in another kicker to handle kickoffs?

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  • COACH KELLY: I don't know. That's why I don't deal with hypotheticals. I know Alex has really worked on kicking off in the off‑season, a lot of things him and [special teams] coach [Dave] Fipp have sat down and talked about, but I'm not a predict the future guy.

     

    Q. In the hot weather, back‑to‑back days, do you do anything ‑‑

    COACH KELLY: No, I mean, we monitor every single guy on our team. So it's not that no, we don't because of those guys. We monitor every player in terms of where they are so we know where those guys are. But those guys have done a great job from a recovery standpoint so they are ready to go today.

     

    Q. Do you look at Carey Spear as somebody vying for the kickoff position or is he just here ‑‑

    COACH KELLY: No, if you're in our 90, you're here to compete for a job. There's no one here just taking space. He's improved since he's gotten here. I know Dave Fipp has worked with him really closely and I've seen improvement since he got here on Day One. He's in camp to compete for a job.

     

    Q. When you use the phrase, invest in yourself, what do you mean exactly?

    COACH KELLY: Well, everybody has the same amount of time during the day and you can either spend your time or invest your time and that's what we are trying to get our players to understand. It's how you allocate your time.

    We all have 24 hours in the same day and it's what you want to do. If you want to go play video games and watch TV and do all those other things, you're going to get beat out by the guy that is doing the little things that are going to make the difference between making the team and not making the team.

    When we talk about investing in yourself we are challenging them to understand every action you have that has consequences to it. They can be positive or they can be negative. If at the end of the day your goal is to make this football team or your goal is to be a starter or your goal is to be an all‑pro, you have a say in that matter and that's what we are trying to get across to our guys in terms of that.

     

    Q. Without having contact out there, what are some of the ways you evaluate offensive linemen, especially guys in that second tier?

    COACH KELLY: Assignment, knowledge of what we are doing scheme‑wise, technique in terms of footwork, hand placement. There are a lot of little intricacies to that position that I think you can evaluate at this point in time. There's still a huge physicality part so you can't make a full evaluation.

    But from an assignment standpoint, does he know where he's going and is he making the proper calls in terms of where he is? Is he communicating with the offensive linemen he's working with, whether it be a right tackle communicating with the right guard or the center getting the right calls out in front and recognition? Technique, footwork, hand placement, all those things.

    A lot of it is studying the drill tape work in terms of where he is. Is he a heavy‑handed kid? Is he a wide‑arm guy that can't get his hands inside and is he going to get beat on a bull rush? Really, the technical things at that position I think you can evaluate at this point in time.

     

    Q. Can you talk about Matt Tobin's focus from this time last year ‑‑

    COACH KELLY: Yeah, I just think ‑‑ and again, I know I say the same thing, it's a guy in year two, so he's a lot more comfortable than at this point in time last year, learning what our calls were, giving himself, hey, it's this, I go to the ball snap.

    Instead of now what's my proper footwork, what is my hand placement, how do we want to run this block here, how are we going to cooperate, are we double‑teaming this guy to the back side linebacker. Whatever the assignment is, I just think he's so much more comfortable in terms of what we are doing because he's not totally learning.

    Now it's really concentrating on, I think he knows what to do but it's the how I think are the important things you're getting out of him in year two. And I think he's shown improvement from that standpoint. So it will be exciting when we get back in July when we get the pads on to see if he can take it full circle ‑‑ he has, he looks different. His body type looks different in terms of where he is. He has gotten stronger. His number in the weight room will indicate where he is from that standpoint so he has gotten stronger and he has gotten a little leaner at the same time.

     

    Q. A lot of the assistants talk about how you give them a certain autonomy. Where does that philosophy come from?

    COACH KELLY: Well, that's why we hired them. They need to be the experts in their field in terms of, you know, whether it's the defensive backs or the offensive line or the quarterbacks or whatever. I don't think this organization is going to work if you have to micromanage individual position coaches.

    They are here for a reason, and that's what we felt in the hiring process. That's what I wanted. I didn't want someone where I always had to constantly look over and say what drill is he doing now, why is he doing that. So we have a bunch of guys who are great teachers and really add to the overall team.

    But I think that's the important thing in your assistant coaches in that you don't have to worry about what to teach them when they get on the field because we have already hashed that out when we get in the meeting room.

     

    Q. Is that something you appreciated?

    COACH KELLY: Yeah, I did. Same, no different than in your job. If your editor takes an article that you turn in and hacks the heck out of it, I'm sure you ‑‑ you know what I mean. It's the same thing. I think you can give pointers and tips and all those things but I think any editor will say the same thing, ‘God, this guy, I have to keep rewriting his story all the time.’ Well, that guy is probably not going to have that job for very long.

    It's the same thing with an assistant coach and I’m fortunate we don't have anybody like that. I think we have a bunch of really, really good teachers that we are all on the same page with and that's a positive.

     

    Q. What have you seen from the 90 guys in the last 10 weeks and how is it different this year from last year?

    COACH KELLY: There's just a familiarity in terms of what we are doing. We don't have to teach while we're in the weight room or meeting at this time or why we do that.

    What I have seen from these 90 guys is a real dedication to what we want to get accomplished here. Up until these three days, it's not mandatory but we have had everyone here for phase one, phase two, phase three. Guys are here every single day challenging themselves to get better. There’s been a constant improvement from when we got here on April 21 to where we are standing now.

    And they want to improve. It's not us pulling teeth saying hey, what can we get out of them today because we know there's a long weekend coming up and whatnot. But these guys when they are here, they have got a great work ethic. They have a thirst themselves for improvement, and I think that's what we are looking for. We want a bunch of guys that like playing football, not what football gets them.

     

    Q. Talking about the culture change, is that what you're explaining that maybe there's a peer pressure, whatever, competition with all the guys in the building that is self‑perpetuated to some degree?

    COACH KELLY: Sure. I think so (Laughter).

     

    Q. In some ways, the coach wants the program to run itself. You talk about not wanting to micromanage everything; is it almost is more on autopilot than it was?

    COACH KELLY: We had full attendance last year but just depends on what model of organization you want. Do you want blind obedience or informed acquiescence or self‑governance. If you have self‑governance, I think the individuals have more invested in what's going on because they have a say and they have a stake in it and we are moving towards that model but I don't know if we are totally there right now.

     

    Q. You signed Nolan Carroll in the off‑season and it was kind of an under the radar signing, but what do you see out of him so far in camp?

    COACH KELLY: Yeah, we do and we didn't think he was an under‑the-radar signing. Obviously I don't write the articles, and thank goodness we didn't read them because he didn't feel that way to us. We had him targeted very early as a guy we wanted to bring into this organization. I think he's got the requisite length that we are looking for at the corner spot, especially as an outside corner. He's an outstanding special teams player, been one of the top gunners in the league and obviously improvement in special teams was a big thing for us. Love his competitive makeup. Talked to his coaches at Maryland about what type of player he is and what type of person he is.

    Like anybody else, and we had some questions earlier about why a guy is here is that they are all competing for starting jobs. He's getting every opportunity. I've been really impressed with Nolan the short time we've had him here and I know you guys have noticed he's stuck out and excited about where he's headed.

     

    Q. Is one of the jobs, a safety job Earl Wolff is going after ‑‑ are there certain attributes for that?

    COACH KELLY: Earl is going at it with everybody so there's not one battle with everybody. Eventually the two best guys are going to rise to the top and we give them enough opportunities to show them to do that. It's not just Earl and Nate battling for this thing. Chris Maragos is in the mix at that position. Keelan Johnson has made some great steps since last year. There's a bunch of guys competing for that spot.

     

    Q. What does it mean to see those guys step up ‑‑

    COACH KELLY: I can't get into specifics. There's not one thing for each guy. I think it's the whole general overall like who gives us the best opportunity to win and that's what we are looking for.

     

    Q. What have you learned about Darren Sproles so far?

    COACH KELLY: You know, first thing that sticks out is just how well he trains. He's one of the guys that you point out to the younger guys on film as that is what it's supposed to look like. That's the effort and that's what we're looking for on a daily basis from him, very, very intelligent football player. He's got a great knowledge of the game and I think he's really shared that with Duce and myself kind of how he sees things and has helped out some of the younger running backs at that position. Besides Darren, we are pretty young. LeSean is the next oldest guy at 25 and the rest of them are younger than he is. Been a great mentor to the younger guys and has really showed how they want them to perform out on the field.

     

    Q. How will Sproles fit into the offense?

    COACH KELLY: I've said that since day one. We are just trying to get reps and get plays and we are not game planning anybody. That's the fortunate thing for us is let's see how much work we can get done, get everybody on film and then when we start to get into the season we'll start to see how we can deploy our personnel in appropriate manners to win games.

     

    Q. Since there's more to evaluate on the outside guys, is there anybody that's impressed you that surprised you?

    COACH KELLY: What do you mean by the outside guys?

     

    Q. Corners, wide receivers.

    COACH KELLY: Yeah, has anybody impressed me? I think a lot of them have. Nolan has impressed me. Roc Carmichael has come back in great shape. I think Brandon Boykin has taken a step up in his game. At the wide receiver, I think Will Murphy and Momah are two guys that have really improved from a year ago to add to the four rookies we have thrown in the mix.

     

    Q. Are you surprised that Momah came back improved?

    COACH KELLY: Was I surprised? No. No.

     

    Q. What did he do to make himself a little bit more NFL ready going into camp than he was able to do last time?

    COACH KELLY: I think it's a confidence thing with a lot of those guys is now he's not just trying to figure out where do I line up at the snap. He already knows where he's going and he's lining up and reading coverages and has a better understanding in terms of how it's supposed to look. I think he feels more comfortable here. There's not a newness in terms of this is not my first time doing this and what does this look like, where am I supposed to be, how does that work?

    He's a kid that was coming off an injury that happened his senior year at Boston College so he missed an entire year. So there's obviously a bit of rust he had to knock off a little bit. We have seen a marked improvement from last year to this year.

     

    Q. Some guys will be on practice squad and continue to carry over ‑‑ he was not signed – how did he stay in shape?

    COACH KELLY: I don't know. That's probably a question for him. But I know he was really in good shape when we got him here.

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