Time off for Eagles before camp opens July 25

Nick Foles is firmly set at quarterback; there will be no controversy at that position.
Nick Foles is firmly set at quarterback; there will be no controversy at that position. (RON TARVER / Staff)
Posted: June 21, 2014

The Eagles start a 35-day period without football on Friday, putting the onus on the players to remain in shape and avoid trouble before returning to Philadelphia for training camp on July 25.

The Eagles huddled as a team at noon on Thursday, having just finished their 13th practice of the last four weeks and an offseason program that started April 21. After a team meeting 30 minutes later, school was out for the summer.

Coach Chip Kelly was not in a hurry to leave. His message on Thursday was ensuring they finished with a strong training session, and he did not count the minutes until the 35-day respite from football activity.

"I don't look at this as I need a break from what we've just done," Kelly said. "This isn't like Fred Flintstone with the 'yabba dabba doo' and we're trying to get out of work. . . . I think anybody that's in our situation [who] coaches, isn't like: 'I can't wait to get out of there.' I think most of them can't wait to get back in there."

Kelly will take time during the next five weeks to visit family and meet up with friends. He is giving his staff time off, too. They will reconvene a few days before July 25 to ensure camp is set.

But the players have no requirements, and that is a time that can be a concern for coaches. Players can get into trouble or fall out of shape. During the interval last summer, Riley Cooper shouted a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert, Jason Peters was arrested for speeding, and two players failed Kelly's conditioning test upon returning.

Kelly was unconcerned about the next five weeks. He said the league has a strict policy on discipline, and the team takes character into account when acquiring players.

"They're grown men, and I think they understand the difference between right and wrong," Kelly said. "I don't want a bunch of guys I have to worry about when we're away, that I've got to worry about how they're supposed to behave. They understand anything they do has ramifications, whether it's positive or negative, and they've got to understand how it affects not only themselves, but how it affects the team."

Some players are quick to get out of Philadelphia. Others spend most of their summers in the area. Charity events are often popular during this time of year. Brent Celek had one Thursday, Connor Barwin has a concert benefit on Friday, Malcolm Jenkins is hosting a football camp this weekend, and LeSean McCoy is hosting a celebrity birthday charity weekend in July.

Quarterback Nick Foles will enjoy his first summer as a newlywed. Safety Chris Maragos is going to Seattle to accept his Super Bowl ring. Jeremy Maclin has two weekend trips planned, but he will savor his first break since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last July.

Working out was a major emphasis of the veterans to the younger players. Players take their football notes with them to study, and the Eagles offer detailed plans about nutrition and training.

"You don't have time to get away from lifting, you don't have time to get away from staying in shape, because at this stage of the game, if we took five weeks off where we didn't do anything, your body is going to be nowhere near ready for camp, nowhere near ready for the season," said center Jason Kelce, who will take a vacation and visit family.

Time moves quickly once the players return. The first preseason game is within two weeks. The regular season opens after six weeks. It's the players' last chance at normalcy before a five-month grind of training camp and the season - and that could extend to six months, if the Eagles go deep in the playoffs.

"Get away from this, football, interviews," McCoy said of his plans. "Training, getting ready for the season. We have a lot at stake for the season."

Extra points

Chip Kelly said he did not try to send a message to players with DeSean Jackson's release, and did not put much stock into McCoy's saying it showed what could happen if a player does not "buy in." "LeSean has a beautiful mind, so sometimes trying to analyze that mind, I don't wrap myself around that too much or bother myself too much with that," Kelly said. "However LeSean interprets things is how LeSean interprets things." . . . Kelly confirmed that the Eagles will practice in New England leading up to the Aug. 15 preseason game.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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