Kelly strives for more efficiency in Eagles practices

Posted: May 20, 2013

On any given day during the last several seasons you might have found five or six Eagles sprawled out in their locker stalls catching some midday zzzzs.

In most cases, the players would build themselves a makeshift bed with pillow, their heads covered with a shirt or some other piece of clothing, their outstretched legs obstructing passage through the narrow lockerroom at the NovaCare Complex.

There were other places to sleep - the lounge, the trainer's room - and, it seemed, plenty of opportunities for exhausted players to nap under Andy Reid.

Chip Kelly's plan is to cut out the fat of a typical in-season practice day, and in turn, he hopes, improve the sleeping and eating habits of the Eagles. The days will be shorter, the practices, workouts, and film sessions more efficient.

The new coach is all about maximizing time, and if that means the players are cut loose much earlier than they were under Reid, so be it. But there are potential risks to entrusting 20-something men with more free time.

"If I can't trust them when they leave this building then we probably brought the wrong guys in here," Kelly said recently.

Kelly isn't naive. He certainly knows that there will be players who won't do the right thing when they leave the NovaCare. They'll eat at White Castle for dinner, they'll play Xbox into the early morning hours, or, even worse, they'll go out drinking and clubbing.

But, Kelly said, those players will reveal themselves during his frenetic practices. And they'll either drop on the depth chart and get cut or quickly change their habits.

Reid's days - especially the pivotal practice days of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday - were long. They started with meetings around 8 a.m. and ended after more meetings in the early evening. In between, there was a walk-through practice, a full practice, strength and conditioning, and film study.

But there was also a decent amount of down time. Reid never came out and said it, but he kept the days long because (a) he could and (b) he wanted to keep the players under his watchful gaze.

Last year, DeSean Jackson admitted that the biggest adjustment he had coming from college to the pros was the length of the workdays. The wide receiver, needless to say, has already endorsed Kelly's trimming of hours.

It's not as if Reid's players didn't have enough time to get in trouble during the season. Just recently, a woman sued running back LeSean McCoy for allegedly dousing her with water and forcibly ejecting her from a New York-bound party bus last December.

The incident occurred on the Tuesday night before McCoy fully practiced for the first time since suffering a concussion. That Sunday, McCoy rushed 13 times for 45 yards and caught nine passes for 77 yards in a loss to the Redskins.

While Kelly's program should weed out some of the less devoted fringe players, he may have a more difficult time recognizing which stars aren't maximizing their abilities.

One former Eagle often had a buddy in an idling car waiting to drive him from the premises as soon as possible the last two seasons. This player (his last name rhymes with Rodgers-Cromartie) would run out for fast food at least once a week and come back with bags for teammates.

It's unclear if these habits affected his performance. Perhaps he got away with it because Reid's practices weren't hard enough. Kelly's practices are significantly faster, but he rewards the players.

He expects them to take advantage of the bonus time. Kelly has said that an elite athlete should get 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night.

"It's going to be hard. It's going to be real hard," tight end Brent Celek said. "But I think that's something guys appreciate. Chip is like, 'Listen, we know that it's hard out here, but . . . we're going to try and take care of you so you feel good the next day.' "

Hence the after-practice personalized protein shakes, the nutritional information on placards above the cafeteria food stations, and the additional time to rest.

Will that lead to fewer lounging bodies in the locker room this season? Probably not once media availability begins.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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