Ex-Ducks feel at home in Kelly's system with Eagles

Posted: May 20, 2014

For two Eagles draft picks at rookie minicamp, getting used to Chip Kelly's demands did not take much time.

Wide receiver Josh Huff, a third-round pick, and defensive end Taylor Hart, a fifth-round selection, are both former Oregon standouts who played three seasons for Kelly. They are used to what the coach expects out of players and have been exposed to the nuances of Kelly's science-driven approach.

"Everything is the same from what he did at Oregon," Huff said Friday, the first day of the team's rookie minicamp at the NovaCare Complex. "What he did here is just more complex and it takes a lot more time, whereas at Oregon it was just quick and simple, to the point."

For example, Huff said, the players at Oregon took hydration tests on Thursdays. In Philadelphia, the players have hydration tests every day.

The rookies joined seven players trying out for the team at the minicamp, which concluded Sunday. The next big date in the offseason program is May 27, when the Eagles start the first of three weeks of organized team activities. The offseason program will conclude with a mandatory minicamp from June 17-19.

When the rookies work with the veterans, Huff and Hart might even be ahead of some vets in understanding the offensive and defensive systems.

Kelly "guaranteed" that Hart would be "a step above some guys in terms of his knowledge" of what the Eagles are doing. The 6-foot-6, 281-pound Oregon native fits the prototype the Eagles look for at defensive end. Hart also has a close relationship with defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, who also coached him at Oregon. But Azzinaro is not taking it easy on Hart; he changed Hart's three-point stance on Friday.

"It's just a new level," Hart said of the transition from Oregon to the Eagles. "There are some similarities, but there are differences, too."

Huff volunteered to help veterans understand the offense if they have questions. He watched four Eagles games last season and said he could recognize Kelly's offense, already envisioning how he would make the transition.

"There's things in the offense I know already," Huff said. "It's just getting things separated from the Oregon offense to the Philly offense. The play calls are different. The hand signals are different. So I have to reboot my whole system and get it in order."

Kelly was unabashed about drafting two Oregon players. He reasoned that the Ducks have won a lot of football games in recent seasons and have good players. The Eagles have eight Oregon players on their 90-man roster, although that number could be cut in half by the time the roster is trimmed to 53 for the regular season.

The Eagles coach is specific about the body types and attributes he seeks at certain positions, so players he recruited at Oregon likely fit the bill. Kelly said he divorces himself from the Eagles' initial evaluation of Oregon players, leaning on the assistant coaches and scouts before offering his input. General manager Howie Roseman presents his evaluation of Oregon players to Kelly before asking for the coach's opinion.

But the familiarity does not hurt, and it's a benefit that Huff has touted already.

"I'm a lot more comfortable than I would be if I was drafted somewhere else," Huff said. "I know how things want to be run here."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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