Eagles Notebook: Texans' O'Brien no fan of trying to slow down offenses

Posted: February 23, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has proposed a college football rules change that would slow down hurry-up offenses, by allowing the defense at least 10 seconds to substitute, before the next play is run. Obviously, if college football goes that way, there's a chance the movement will spread to the NFL, where teams such as the Eagles have been known to make playing uptempo a key component of their approach.

Eagles coach Chip Kelly hasn't spoken to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, but one of Kelly's friends, who has a similar mindset, said yesterday he doesn't much like the idea, particularly in the pros.

"No. I wouldn't want to see that in the NFL. I think it's important offensively to be able to have different tempos, play different styles of offense," new Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "I wouldn't want to see that in college football or the NFL. I have a lot of respect for Bret. He's a fantastic coach, but I have a strong belief in being able to change the tempos on offense."

Rams coach Jeff Fisher, co-chair of the NFL's competition committee, said yesterday that such a change is not on the horizon for the league.

"No. It's not. We haven't discussed it," said Fisher, who added that there are differences in the way the NCAA and the NFL handle getting ready for the snap.

"Our mechanics are a lot different than theirs," Fisher said. "They're doing some things that we're not doing."

O'Brien was asked about a report out of Harrisburg that he had been eager to leave Penn State, the place where he coached for two seasons, battling the Jerry Sandusky scandal sanctions.

"I loved Penn State. Enjoyed the players I coached there. I think it's a great school, I think it's a fantastic school. The student body's great," O'Brien said. "I felt like this was an opportunity for my family, for my wife, for my two sons, that we couldn't pass up."

Asked about his successor, James Franklin, O'Brien said he and Franklin, who once coached together at Maryland, "spoke a few times, leading up to him getting the job . . . The kids will really buy into him. He'll do a great job recruiting. It's a place you could really win a lot of games."

At 5-9 and 174 pounds when the NFL took his measure yesterday, De'Anthony Thomas doesn't exactly fit Chip Kelly's "big people beat up little people" credo. But Thomas played two seasons for Kelly at Oregon, with quite a bit of success. He also is close to Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson, who hails from the same area near Los Angeles. Jackson hosted Thomas when the Eagles played the Saints in the wild-card round of the playoffs last month, and took him to Miami to celebrate Thomas' 21st birthday.

Thomas is an interesting player, a running back, wideout and returner who starred in track at Oregon and will generate quite a bit of interest when he runs the 40 here.

"We're two different styles of people. I learned a lot, seeing him go from Cal to the Eagles," Thomas said of Jackson. "That was a great weekend, a very motivational weekend for me . . . Instead of a rapper, I want to be more of an actor."

When Thomas played for Snoop Dogg's Crenshaw Bears youth team, he was called "the Black Mamba," ala Kobe Bryant. Thomas said he has moved on now, prefers "Run DAT" or "DAT man." But "everyone knows I was [the Black Mamba] way before Kobe Bryant. He was just in the spotlight more than me," Thomas joked. "Hopefully, one day we can do a commercial about it, or something."

Thomas said teams are telling him they see him more as a receiver and a return specialist in the NFL.

"Just put me on the field and let me make plays and contribute to the team," he said.

Thomas said the Eagles have changed the terminology, but many of their plays are what he ran at Oregon. He said he could call them out, sitting in the stands during the loss to the Saints.

Pitt quarterback Tom Savage transferred from Rutgers to Arizona to Pitt. At Arizona, he became friends with Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. "I talk to him all the time," Savage told reporters yesterday. "He's a good buddy of mine. He says to stay patient. Block out the noise. Obviously, I don't have a lot of noise, but block out whatever is there. Have fun and enjoy it, because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Daily News sports writer Paul Domowitch contributed to this report.

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