After the Philadelphia Eagles trimmed their final roster and practice squad to 61 players, with five having ties to Chip Kelly‘s days as head coach of the Oregon Ducks some fans have believed there is some favoritism in play.
When the team announced it had rounded out its practice squad with defensive end Brandon Bair, who happened to play under Kelly at Oregon, those questions became even more persistent from the fan base.
Kelly went out of his way to dismiss that notion during his Wednesday press conference at the Novacare Complex.
“If we were gonna sing the Oregon fight song, it would,” Kelly joked when pressed about whether or not playing for the Ducks would help him lay the foundation with the Eagles. “Besides that, I’m familiar with them and I know what they do, what Jeff [Maehl] can do as a special-teams player. I know what Casey [Matthews] can do as a special-teams player. I was with Pat [Chung] for a year. Isaac Remington’s a kid that we brought in. We moved him to the offensive line just before we released him. The other guys that we released on the offensive line are not practice-squad eligible. So we think he’s got an upside as an offensive lineman. We’re gonna take a look and see what he can do.”
Keeping Matthews over the likes of outside linebackers Chris McCoy and Emmanuel Acho was among the more curious decisions as the Eagles trimmed their roster over the weekend.
The first-year NFL head coach explained Wednesday that in Matthews’ case his spot on the roster was earned simply by his versatility.
“We’ll cross-train Casey [Matthews] to also be an outside linebacker,” Kelly explained. “Just in case someone like Connor Barwin gets hurt, we’re a little thin on the outside.”
While it’s easy to make the assumption that Kelly kept players that he had a familiarity with as he built his first NFL roster, it’s also worth noting that there are only three Oregon products on the active roster while Cincinnati and Iowa lead the way with four representatives apiece.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.