Wednesday, June 17, 2015

[Inside the Iggles] Philadelphia Eagles: Mini-Camp Recap by Pat Roach

The Philadelphia Eagles moved on to their second session of mandatory mini-camp this afternoon. Before hand, Chip Kelly spoke to the media and shared several interesting nuggets of information:

Although the release of Pro-Bowl Guard Evan Mathis appeared to be culturally motivated, today, Kelly confirmed that the prevailing reason was indeed the “money.”

Now, there is no doubt that the financial aspect played a role in Mathis’ release, however, it’s hard to believe that cultural implications weren’t the deciding factor. Last offseason Mathis expressed a desire to rework his contract, but showed up, kept his head down, and put in the necessary work. This year, however, he took things a step further by holding himself out of OTA’s and reportedly requested his release back in March. Regardless of the fact that Mathis’ actions were motivated by money, Chip saw his behavior as a detriment to the team and the culture that he and the staff are cultivating. There will undoubtedly be financial conflicts in the future, but Chip’s message is clear: Do not allow personal interest to jeopardize team culture, particularly when you have little to no leverage in the matter.

On a note more relevant to current team activities, Chip wasn’t coy in his praise of RB Ryan Mathews, lauding his explosiveness and ability to play to his impressive size — which according to Chip has increased during the offseason, as Mathews is now close to 230lbs, compared to the 220 he was previously listed at.

Per Kelly, Mathews will also be in the mix at Kick Returner. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given Chip’s proclivity for employing bulky down-hill runners at returner. Chris Polk and Josh Huff handled return duties in 2014, and fit this same profile, though Mathews may provide an even more explosive element if his speed and explosion (4.37 forty) are any indication.

In regards to the defensive side of the ball, Kelly hinted that DE Vinny Curry could see an expanded role, going as far to suggest that Curry sees time at Outside Linebacker. Curry was hyper productive in a limited role this past season, notching 9 sacks and 4 forced fumbles despite playing a fraction of the snaps. Using Curry creatively and giving him more opportunities to rush the passer in exotic packages could be a boost to an already formidable Eagles’ front.

When the team first announced the implementation of the 3-4 defense, some assumed Curry would transition to OLB, now it appears that he might yet see time there, albeit likely in a very limited capacity.

In other news, Curry’s fellow DE Taylor Hart has impressed Kelly with his commitment to the weight room, adding size and going from 281 to “about 300 pounds.”

While Hart had what was essentially a Red-Shirt season in 2014, Kelly seems to be very high on the second year player. Sitting behind a deep and talented group that managed to stay remarkably healthy in 2014 is hardly an indictment of Hart’s abilities, but that same group has remained intact so it’s hard to imagine him assuming a significant role. The team likely hopes that Hart can contribute as a key depth piece for the time being, and judging by Kelly’s endorsement he is putting himself in a position to do just that.

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