He acknowledged that camp would not begin in earnest until Friday, when there is a full-squad workout for the first time. Tuesday's practice had scarce attendance that kept the team from participating in 11-on-11 drills, or even 7-on-7 sessions.
There were 29 players who practiced, and two additional players who failed the conditioning test. There was only one inside linebacker, one outside linebacker, two cornerbacks, and one safety. There wasn't even a running back able to practice.
The team trained for one hour, and it was limited to individual instructional drills. Kelly didn't even play the music at its normal blaring level.
"We knew we had to slow things down from a teaching standpoint," Kelly said. "Really technique-oriented, get guys back, and just spend some time. Because sometimes once you get to Friday and you're back into scheme and everything's happening and there are 90 guys running around and everybody's flying around, these young guys can use as much practice time as they can get."
Kelly said the staff is also careful not to "run these guys into the ground," trying to ensure they are not fatigued when practice intensifies this weekend. Pads will be worn for the first time on Sunday, when the team practices at Lincoln Financial Field. As of last week, 49,000 tickets had been reserved for that open practice.
Fans lucked out because the team is hitting that day; there won't be contact at every practice. Kelly refused to divulge how many practices would include contact, but tackling will be interspersed.
"Again, with this group, we've never had pads on," Kelly said. "We went through the whole offseason with just helmets. So when you finally get the shoulder pads on and the fundamental part of it, you also have to be conscious of we can't lose people, either. But the difference, I think, between the college level and the NFL, we've got four preseason games where they will be live. You've got to factor that you get at least four opportunities there, and we'll sprinkle some opportunities in practice."
A camp's tenor often is established by the approach of the head coach. Andy Reid deliberately opened his first training camp with what players termed "three days of hell," a slog of full-contact two-a-days to begin Reid's tenure.
Kelly has taken no such approach. If anything, he purposefully has played down the concept of instilling his mark at training camp. One of the reasons he preferred camp in Philadelphia over Lehigh University was to have no separation between training camp and the regular season. If they practice at the facility in December, why not do it in July?
He popularized "Win the Day" - Oregon even trademarked the slogan - by having his players embrace the daily tedium. The first practice, then, is no more important than the ninth practice. And the excitement about returning to football is suppressed, because the energy level must be the same when the players return the next day.
"I was excited when I got here on the 16th of January, and it's the same today," Kelly said. "Just because we get a chance to get back out on the field, I don't think it changes that."
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Contact Zach Berman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.