Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp: Inside The Early Stages of Camp Chip

By Matt Lombardo
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With only the Philadelphia Eagles rookies, quarterbacks and a handful of veterans in attendance for the first two days of training camp at the Novacare Complex on Tuesday and Wednesday, the practices were at a noticeably less frenetic pace than Chip Kelly‘s torrid workouts this spring.

The music was decidedly quieter and the high-tempo scrimmage type drills seen on the  practice fields this spring were replaced by more individualized teaching time on Tuesday and Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean Kelly’s fingerprints weren’t all over the drills that the players took part in during the earliest stages of Camp Chip.

Here’s a glimpse of the unorthodox drills and methods that were utilized by the Eagles over the last two days and what fans can expect to see at One Novacare Way over the next few weeks.

We have Nerf ball action. Yes, you read that correctly. The rubber football that we all threw around on the beach and in backyard football games as kids has made an appearance at the Novacare Complex. During Tuesday’s workout, Bob Bicknell and his coaching interns threw a Nerf ball at each receiver during an individual drill meant to strengthen hands and improve concentration.

Next, we have PVC pipes. It’s probably inevitable that Eagles fans across the Delaware Valley still have intermittent nightmares of Michael Vick‘s season-ending interception against the Green Bay Packers in the 2010 NFC wild card round of the playoffs on January 9, 2011.

Kelly’s answer for Riley Cooper making a feeble effort against Traman Williams on that fateful play, and passes similar to it, involves a common home repair item found in most garages: the PVC pipe.

In this drill, the PVC pipe is anchored upright and receivers stand behind the piping as passes are fired at them from relatively close range. The players must haul in the reception with their hands and not their body. The pipe is designed to simulate a defender and just for good measure, another wideout is draped over the player taking part in the drill later on to make things even more difficult.

There were also trash can defensive linemen. With only five offensive linemen in camp for the first two practices and the defensive linemen off getting their own work in on an opposite field, the only choice coaches have to provide an opponent for offensive linemen is a group of trash cans with numbers.

On Wednesday, Jason Kelce and the rookie linemen practiced calling out protection schemes against the numbered cans. It’s assumed that London Fletcher will be slightly more difficult to block in the season opener than the receptacle the Birds likely picked up from a South Philly Home Depot.

Perhaps the most noticeable addition to the Novacare Complex after a $1.2 million spring renovation project are three new practice fields.

The state-of-the-art practice facility got more than a face lift this summer, highlighted by three new fields that all face the same direction. Unlike the original fields that were aligned horizontally in front of the Novacare Complex building and the built-in concrete bleachers, the new fields are aligned vertically and provide media and onlookers with a ‘coaches’ film’ type endzone view.

The full squad reports to Novacare today and it will be interesting to see what Kelly has in store for his squad for the remainder of camp.


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