Kelly says not to read too much into OTA activities at QB

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Quarterback Mark Sanchez has been working with the 'twos' during OTAs.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Quarterback Mark Sanchez has been working with the 'twos' during OTAs.
Posted: June 12, 2014

THE WAY reporters watch Eagles organized team activities - only occasionally and even then from a distance - it's hard to reach conclusions about where Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley stand in the battle to become quarterback Nick Foles' primary backup.

Sanchez has the stronger, but seemingly more erratic arm. Barkley is throwing better than he threw a year ago, when he was fresh from shoulder surgery. Sanchez is still not quite fully recovered from shoulder surgery last year, and is learning a new offense.

Coach Chip Kelly yesterday suggested we shouldn't try to make such judgments during OTAs - or very many judgments of any kind.

"There is no 'decision,' " Kelly said, when asked about the decision to have Sanchez work with the twos, leaving Barkley with the threes. "If anybody is trying to make anything of who is playing what or how many reps, all we're trying to do is see if we can get three reps a minute, as fast as we can go, get it on tape and coach off of that. So there is nothing to read into who is where, what, whatever, because we're not playing a game until September."

Kelly said he likes what he has seen from Sanchez.

"Unique situation for Mark, because he's probably ahead of where Nick [Foles] and Michael [Vick] were last year, because he has Nick to rely on. Everything was new for everybody in the quarterback room last year," Kelly said.

Kelly said Sanchez "is really sharp and he works extremely hard."

"He's got a great work ethic and really, really wants to perform," Kelly said. "Spends a lot of time and asks a lot of really good questions. He's played in this league for a long time and has got 60-plus starts. Been real impressed with how quickly he's picked it up, and for him, it's really just learning new terminology. A lot of the routes are things he has done when he was with the Jets.

"But I've been impressed with his football background. He's still working through his shoulder. I don't believe he's 100 percent now, but he has not missed any reps."

Someone noted that rookies are all running with the second and third teams.

"We script it that way," Kelly said. "Our 'ones' obviously have a better grasp of the playbook, so in certain situations, we want to see things done [correctly]. Instead of slowing down 10 other guys, because one guy isn't sure of what the play is, we make sure we know when that group is in, where they are."

Rookies such as OTA wide-receiving standout Jordan Matthews might move around, inside to outside, this group or that group, depending on the day, Kelly said.

"They're just learning the offense . . . part of this process for us is not only are they learning it, but we're learning them - what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses," Kelly said. "We've got a long way before we have to play a game, so it's just a matter of getting guys out there, getting plenty of reps."

Asked what the plan is with first-round rookie linebacker Marcus Smith learning Connor Barwin's "jack" position instead of Trent Cole's "predator," Kelly said it was mostly because Cole has Brandon Graham behind him, so it was easier to slot Smith behind Barwin.

"There is no plan. Just trying to figure out what those guys can do, what their skill set is . . . then we'll go from there," Kelly said. "But you've gotta start 'em somewhere. You can't just say, 'Learn every single position.' . . . We've got two more OTAs, then we've got 3 days [of mandatory minicamp] next week. And then we'll sit down as a staff and (figure out) what's our plan as we approach preseason camp."

Other observations:

* Nate Allen felt sick and left during warmups, so Earl Wolff got a full day as the first-team safety, something Wolff said "allowed me to get a feel for those guys."

* Kelly is making sure everyone knows he was way more excited than the fan base was to land free-agent safety Malcolm Jenkins. "He's been outstanding," Kelly said, and he again stressed Jenkins' versatility as a corner-safety. Kelly said Jenkins is "the vocal leader on the back end for us," and was "the No. 1 guy we were looking for in free agency."

* Kelly touted running back Chris Polk's offseason work and noted his importance on special teams last season.

* Kelly said Foles, in his first spring as the acknowledged No. 1 and his second spring in the offense, is "more comfortable with the situation . . . not wondering what's next." Foles rolled out and lasered a bomb to Jeremy Maclin that was the play of the day yesterday.

* Kelly said he thinks Alex Henery has "gotten a little bit stronger" on kickoffs. For what it's worth, Henery's kickoffs in the OTAs reporters have been allowed to watch have been more consistent than those of rookie Carey "Murderleg" Spears.

* Kelly praised RB Darren Sproles as "sharp" and "dedicated.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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