During Doug Pederson's one season playing for the Eagles and four seasons as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, he prepared this week for training camp at Lehigh University. That's where the Eagles spent every summer with Reid as coach, and Reid also brought the Chiefs on the road while Pederson was offensive coordinator in Kansas City.
But Pederson's first training camp as head coach will begin next week at the Eagles' training facility in South Philadelphia. Camp moved to Philadelphia when Chip Kelly became head coach in 2013, and Pederson decided to keep camp local after conversations with the front office during the winter.
"It was presented to me. It was my decision," Pederson said. "After I was hired, and we sat down, and we started talking with [team president] Don Smolenski, and [owner Jeffrey] Lurie, and Howie [Roseman] and the guys. They said, 'Listen, we'll do whatever you want to do, and here's what we've done in the past three years.' So I sat down and I looked at it, and it's not a bad situation. Why pack your office up and move?
"I mean, listen, it's OK. I enjoyed going away for the three weeks we were there. It was great. It was like summer camp. You're sleeping in the dorms. But being able to come to your office every day and not have to pack it up and put it in a box, [saying] 'I forgot that or I forgot this.' That part makes it nice. You can come right in off the practice field and your film is ready to go. And the way the setup is here, it's awesome."
A local training camp is more convenient for the players, who dress in the same locker room as they do during the season, lift in the same weight room, and have access to the same medical and training facilities and meeting rooms. The players can eat in their own cafeteria, and although they don't stay in dorm rooms, lodging in a nearby hotel allows them to remain together throughout the day.
It has become common throughout the league, as 18 of the 32 teams use their year-round facility for the three weeks of camp.
But a local training camp is not as friendly to fans, who were able to attend almost every practice for free at Lehigh. At the NovaCare Complex, practice is open only to select season-ticket holders and invited guests.
The agreement that the Eagles made with the city when the NovaCare Complex was constructed does not allow for public practices, according to a 2011 Daily News article. Also, space is restricted within the fences of the facility.
The Eagles will have two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field, on July 31 and Aug. 14. Practices at the stadium allow for a greater capacity than at a Lehigh practice – and easier access to fans from the city and New Jersey – but there are only two dates available.
The team could hold more open practices at the Linc -- there were four such practices in 2013 and three in 2014 -- but that would require availability in the stadium complex. When there's a major event at the stadium, such as the Coldplay concert on Aug. 6, setup and breakdown time is needed. Also, practices are more limited on one field at the stadium compared to three fields at the NovaCare Complex.
"I guess the one negative, if there is one, is the fact that it's not open, necessarily, to the public," Pederson said. "That's probably the one downside. But having the two stadium practices this year helps that a little bit. Yeah, I'm looking forward to having it here."