Eagles brace for a change in training camp

Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin (left) introduces teammate Michael Vick to participants in his youth football camp in West Deptford on Tuesday.
Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin (left) introduces teammate Michael Vick to participants in his youth football camp in West Deptford on Tuesday. (      CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 27, 2013

For Eagles veterans, training camp at Lehigh is all they've known during their time in Philadelphia.

But that will change this year as the Eagles have ended a 17-year run of preseason practices in Bethlehem, Pa. The team has opted instead to complete this season's three-week camp at its headquarters at the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia.

Receiver Jason Avant joked on Tuesday that the change in venues could offer new distractions.

"I know that I have to deal with my daughters keeping me up at night now," he said with a laugh. "I don't know anything else but Lehigh, so I don't know how comfortable I'll be."

Avant and quarterback Michael Vick joined teammate Jeremy Maclin in South Jersey for Maclin's third annual youth football camp in West Deptford. With training camp set to begin in about a month - rookies will report on July 22 and veterans on July 25 - Maclin said running drills in the heat for two days with his campers is getting him ready for coach Chip Kelly's camp.

"It's a little hot out here, but we're getting in shape," Maclin said.

Like Avant, Maclin said he doesn't know what to expect with training camp changing locations. Although he does anticipate he and his teammates will enjoy being home once practices begin.

"I think it's a comfort thing," said Maclin. "There's going to be an option for guys to stay at hotels if they want to. But guys want to see their family. After a hard day's work, they want to go home to their family, see their kids and sleep in their own bed."

Maclin also appreciates that Kelly, a first-year NFL head coach, trusts his players enough to give them that freedom.

"Guys that might mess up during training camp, those probably aren't the guys you want on your team anyway," said Maclin.

It remains to be seen what kind of camp Kelly will establish regardless of the venue. Avant said based on previous OTAs and minicamps, the team has an idea of what a typical practice will be like. He said he hopes the preseason will be physical, what he called a "tone-setter."

"We'll see which angle they take. We don't know," Avant said. "Hopefully, it's physical because we need that. But at the same time there's enough time for guys to recover and recuperate."

Kelly has made it clear that camp will be an open competition for starting positions. Vick addressed on Tuesday comments he'd made previously about hoping that Kelly would name a starting quarterback before camp, saying he in no way intended to put pressure on Kelly to make a decision.

"Everybody on that football team respects Coach Kelly and what he's been able to accomplish so far," Vick said.


Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin gets his players - and himself - in shape at his youth football camp. Watch a workout at www.inquirer.com/maclin

Contact Mike Still at mstill@philly.com

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