Eagles Notes: Rookies disciplined for lack of conditioning

Philadelphia Eagles' Matthew Tucker catches the ball during NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Philadelphia Eagles' Matthew Tucker catches the ball during NFL football practice at the team's training facility, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Posted: July 25, 2013

It isn't quite pushing a sled alone after every player has left the field, but Chip Kelly drew his first line when he placed rookies Matthew Tucker and Brad Wing on the non-football injury list after they failed to pass conditioning tests.

"Your goal in life is to play in the NFL, you have to get past the condition test to play in it," Kelly said Tuesday after his first NFL training-camp practice. "So, ball's in their court."

Tucker, a running back, and Wing, a punter, will have an opportunity to pass the test Thursday when the rest of the team reports, Kelly said. It's possible the number of failed conditioning tests will grow considerably as the roster increases from 30 to 90.

Kelly said that his test consists of "a series of sprints with rest time in between." Former Eagles coach Andy Reid used to have his players run 16 half-gassers - from one sideline to the other - before camp started. Most NFL coaches have similar conditioning tests.

The test is tiered by position, Kelly said.

"The test varies depending on what position you are," he said. "But we're talking about passing at a minimum standard, not qualifying for the U.S. Olympic team."

Kelly's practices already are considered to be among the most up-tempo in the league. He noted that a player who couldn't pass a conditioning test would be unlikely to keep pace in practice.

The fact that Tucker, an undrafted rookie running back from Texas Christian, couldn't pass it would seem to hinder his chances of making the team. With LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Felix Jones, and Chris Polk likely ahead of him on the depth chart, he already had an uphill climb.

Wing, an undrafted rookie out of Louisiana State, appeared to be behind veteran punter Donnie Jones at the end of the spring.

Kelly has said that he had no intention of delivering a message to his players - i.e. that a new sheriff was in town - during the start of camp. Reid infamously made George Hegamin push a sled in hot conditions during his first camp when the linemen briefly left Lehigh.

Kelce, Casey practice

Two notable veterans practiced Tuesday: center Jason Kelce and tight end James Casey. Kelce was not originally scheduled to practice, but he took part in offensive line drills. Casey practiced after missing minicamps while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.

"He wanted to be here," Kelly said. "There's a rule if you don't go through the full part of the mandatory minicamp [in June], you're allowed to bring certain veterans back if they didn't go through that along with the quarterbacks. And James and Kelce both wanted to be here and be part of it. So I left it up to both those guys in terms of what they wanted to do."

Both Casey and Kelce were constant attendees at the facility during the summer break. Kelly noticed their presence. He was pleased that coaches were able to work with the veterans on the field among a group that was mostly rookies who are unlikely to make the roster.

Kelly said that all veterans are expected to be healthy enough to participate when they arrive Thursday.

Of course, they first must pass the conditioning test.

Kelly on Peters

The Eagles will not take any disciplinary action against tackle Jason Peters, who was arrested in June after he was accused of drag racing and resisting a police officer by flight in Monroe, La. Charges were reduced to driving with improper equipment, and Peters paid a fine of $656.50.

"On a speeding ticket? No," Kelly said when asked whether the team would discipline him.

Peters' car exceeded 100 m.p.h. while driving away from the police, according to a report.

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