It’s no secret that there is plenty of intrigue surrounding Chip Kelly‘s first foray into life as an NFL coach. All eyes will be on the City of Brotherly Love as the Eagles’ quarterback competition shapes up as one of the more interesting position battles in the league. However, according to general manager Howie Roseman, competition is set to be a buzz word throughout the roster.
“[Competition] is extremely important,” Roseman told assembled members of the media on Monday. “You combine a new staff with new a scheme and there’s going to be a lot more competition. Then you have guys who didn’t necessarily fit with the last scheme who you bring back and are great fits in this scheme. That can go both ways.”
“We’re trying to make sure we get the right fits … the right fits scheme wise for what we’re trying to do on offense, defense and on special teams as well. That’s going to take time to figure out. Guys are doing some things for the first time and you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, but those things don’t happen overnight. You want to give them time to fit into the system, get comfortable and then evaluate them.”
At quarterback, it’s expected to be a heated battle between Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley for the starting job. Many believed that Vick was the starter in waiting when the team restructured his contract in March. Roseman pointed out Monday that the 33-year old was aware of the impending quarterback battle at the time when he agreed to restructure.
“Every conversation I’ve had and everyone in this building has had with Michael [Vick] about competition, he’s all for it,” Roseman said. “He wants the best players to play and he’s not shying away from competition in any aspect. He knew that when we signed him that there was going to be competition at every spot and he wants to compete.”
Given the way Vick’s contract is structured — with $3.5 million in guarantees already paid by the team and an additional $3.5 million due if he is on the roster for the season opener — there is plenty of intrigue about just where he stands with this team.
Roseman didn’t seem to indicate that Vick faces any immediate concerns about job security in terms of a roster spot.
“We haven’t gotten to who the starters and backups are going to be,” Roseman said. “But when we signed Michael it was with every intention that he is going to be on this team and he’s a very talented guy. He’s real eager to show what he’s capable of and we’re eager to see it.”
Despite a new regime and little certainty on the depth chart, it appears that on the dawn of Kelly’s first training camp in Philadelphia, the players are aware that there is much to be decided in the next two-and-a half months.
“I do get a sense that there’s going to be a lot of competition,” said tight end James Casey, who signed with the Eagles as a free agent in March. “Everyone around here has that competitiveness going for them because we have to earn a roster spot, earn our playing time.”
Casey finished 2012 with 34 catches for 330 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Houston Texans and will likely compete for a starting tight end position as well as play H-back in Kelly’s offense.
Entering camp, the Eagles have seven tight ends on the roster including Casey, veterans Brent Celek, Clay Harbor and Emil Igwenagu along with rookies Zach Ertz,Derek Carrier and Will Shaw.
“Even at TE we have seven of us here and I’ve never been in a group like this,” Casey explained. “We’re all fighting for our spot on the depth chart but that goes with the territory. You’re never given a spot, you always have to go out and fight for it.”
After the Eagles’ rookies and selected veterans trickled into the Novacare Complex on Monday, with the first practice scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, there appears to be a theme developing for this training camp: let the competition begin.
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