1) Darren Sproles last season caught only 40 passes, his fewest since 2009. The Eagles' explanation was that defenses focused on Sproles and tried double-teaming him, but it's not as if defenses first realized he was a threat catching the ball.
Chip Kelly must find different ways to get Sproles the ball, and the Eagles have worked on an interesting look this spring/summer: Lining up Sproles in the slot as a receiver.
"Just another versatile player," Kelly said. "It's Year 2 for him, so I think he feels really comfortable in terms of what our running backs are doing. So we are just kind of cross‑training him like we do some other guys in terms of how do we get our best players on the field and put them in different situations."
This is noteworthy because it's a way to get Sproles onto the field with another running back. Last summer, there was talk of Sproles and LeSean McCoy on the field at the same time. That seldom happened – it's not a formation the Eagles run often. Sproles played only 29 percent of the team's offensive snaps last season, and that is low considering his production.
With DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews both commanding playing time this season, it would seem to be even harder to get Sproles on the field in single-back formations. So the slot could be one way to get him on the field.
2) If you're looking for an undrafted rookie to keep on your radar, Denzel Rice is one to know. The cornerback from Coastal Carolina is not from a big school, but the Eagles targeted him in the spring. He was a consideration in the seventh round, but the Eagles had already taken three cornerbacks and selected defensive lineman Brian Mihalik. When Rice went undrafted, the Eagles made him a priority free agent. He had interest from other teams, but he decided on the Eagles because of the attention they had paid him in the pre-draft process.
"He was a guy we were very, very high on," Kelly said. "Spent a lot of time with in the offseason."
Kelly said Rice "keeps showing up" in practice. He cited a play Tuesday in which Tim Tebow scrambled 10 yards downfield before Rice caused a fumble and recovered it.
"He seems to have a unique knack to always being around the ball," Kelly said.
Rice is 6-foot and 196 pounds, so he fits the team's size requirements at the position. He had 24 pass breakups in his college career.
"Going back from high school, the coaches say, 'The ball -- it's all about the ball'," Rice told reporters on Thursday. "When I see the ball, I have to get the ball."
3) Kelly said that the Eagles' up-tempo practices allow for more plays in practice for younger players down on the depth chart. There's a misconception that the starters get more practice work than in other places. Kelly said that's not the case. It's the third-teamers who benefit from the way the Eagles practice. Each unit gets 12 practice reps during team drills.