Test for Eagles' young wideouts

Posted: August 08, 2014

RILEY COOPER is out of the walking boot, but he won't play for the Eagles tomorrow night at Chicago, Chip Kelly indicated yesterday. Kelly said he wasn't sure about Jeremy Maclin, who missed 2 days of practice with what Maclin said were sore legs from an unaccustomed training-camp workload, as he comes back from ACL surgery a year ago.

More and more, the first preseason game of 2014 shapes up as a showcase for the Eagles' young receivers, such as second-round rookie Jordan Matthews and third-rounder Josh Huff, and for veteran wideouts trying to improve their lot, such as Brad Smith and Arrelious Benn.

Kelly said he expects his starters to play a couple series, 10 to 15 plays. He did not commit to a rotation after that.

"There's a certain amount of work I think everybody that's healthy needs to get in, and then we'll move on from there," Kelly said after a team walkthrough. "There's a lot things that we all need exposure to. There's a new emphasis in the league [on cleaning up contact between defensive backs and receivers]. There's some rule changes. You've got officials.

"Although we did have a real good session with the officials here last week, we didn't have the full complement - we didn't have all seven of them. I think the guys we had were a lot more back end-oriented. There weren't guys up front. There wasn't a referee. There weren't guys watching the interior line play, so how do we handle that from an official standpoint?

"So there's a lot of different things that you want to get accomplished, and it's exciting just to get back out and play football for real again."

Corner Nolan Carroll will not play as he deals with either a groin or hamstring issue, Kelly said. Carroll was listed as the No. 1 kick returner on the depth chart released this week. Kelly was dismissive of questions about those rankings, though he noted that Carroll gets upfield quickly.

"You gotta send one out," Kelly said. "I don't care. I think Derek [Boyko, the team spokesman] did it . . . I said a long time ago, it's written in sand, it's written in water, it can be written in anything. That depth chart means absolutely nothing. The only reason we make one is because they tell us to make one."

Asked if he is reluctant to put on tape how he wants to use Darren Sproles, Kelly said: "No, I think everybody's seen him used. You've seen him be a running back, you've seen him be a returner, you've seen him be a receiver. He's not going to be an offensive lineman . . . I don't think anybody's going to look at our preseason tape and say, 'They're hiding him! They're not using him to do this.' Darren, like everybody else, needs reps in our offense."

Does this include using LeSean McCoy and Sproles in the same set?

"It's not like that's going to be a surprise, like, 'Oh my God! They're in the game at the same time!' " Kelly said. "When people go to play us, they realize we can put those guys on the field at the same time. I don't think we're going to catch anybody off-guard the first time we put 'em out there, and nobody covers Darren Sproles, and we go, 'We really fooled 'em this time!' I don't think that's gonna happen."

Birdseed

Chip Kelly said he is excited to see if corner Curtis Marsh carries his training-camp improvement into tomorrow night's game . . . Asked about the preseason experiment with kicking 33-yard extra points instead of the standard 20-yarders, Kelly said he thought if the NFL wanted extra points to be more of a challenge, it would have been better to narrow the goal posts, but "nobody asked me." Eagles kicker Alex Henery agreed that probably would have more of an effect.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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