I received my first chance to attend Eagles training camp on Sunday (thanks to Joy Mokwa for thinking of me when some extra tickets came her way!), and it was quite the occasion to go for my first time. Not only was it the first day that Chip Kelly’s camp was open to the public, but it was the first training camp held at Lincoln Financial Field, and it was Eagles Alumni day with many former greats in attendance. Among everything that went on that day, the thing that stood out the most was how organized and regimented the practice was, as every single player was constantly moving, constantly involved with some type of drill and some group of coaches for the entire 2+ hours. They day started with punters and kickers on the field warming up. When the rest of the team joined them, they split into positional groups to do some position-specific warm-up drills. After a short time, the entire team joined together to do a team warm-up before splitting back up for individual drills. One of the coolest things to watch in the drills was the quarterbacks because, rather than having 1 quarterback throw to 1 receiver, all 5 quarterbacks would drop back simultaneously and throw to 5 different receivers at the same time.
From the individual drills the team advanced from 1 on 1s with receivers and defenders up to 7 on 7’s and 11 on 11’s (without tackling though). A timer continuously ticked down throughout the day and the loud speaker would prompt the players to change stations or drills and the Jumbotron screens would let the fans know what drills were occurring and their purpose, while always showing some of the action up close and providing miscellaneous information about the player on screen. Time was spent with quarterbacks working on specific types of handoffs to the running backs, for receivers to work on catching the ball in the traffic of several tackling dummies or even for defensive linemen to work on attacking specific gaps, using an offensive line made up of trash cans. Special teams plays were mixed in between different sets as the team would suddenly run together to one spot on the field and run, for example, a fake field goal pass play (which was incredibly ugly by the way).
Overall the entire day was incredibly crisp and everyone always had a specific task at the specific time. Even in 7 on 7’s and 11 on 11’s, the quarterbacks would rotate out after 2-4 plays and the receivers were constantly switching in and out and lining up in various formations. There really is a lot of information to take in at one of these practices because at any given time, at least 3 different groups of players were doing something substantial. Anyone reading day to day write ups of what happens in training camp needs to know that these guys do an amazing job at absorbing everything that is going on and taking notes. It is hard enough to see the play and think ‘nice throw’, much less to be able to see it and say, for example, that play number 1 was Nick Foles with the starters, this linemen was out and this guy took his place. The defense was in a 3-4 base with these guys lined up as the starters and it was a nice throw to this receiver but broken up by this defender. Guys like Jimmy Kempski (
@JimmyKempski) and Brandon Lee Gowton ( @BrandonLeeSBN) do an amazing job in their coverage of the Eagles Training camp and I was actually lucky enough to help Jimmy out with something for one of his posts! With the way Chip Kelly ran this first public practice, I can only imagine how strictly regimented he keeps each and every practice and would love to be there to see what a Kelly-Belichick joint practice will look like.