YOU KNOW what would be cool? If a coach started a news conference by listing injuries, before reporters even asked about them. Yup, that'd really be something. There must be coaches out there who do that, right? Though no one comes immediately to mind.
Chip Kelly is not such a coach. Asked yesterday about the absences of All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters and recent safety acquisition Kenny Phillips from his practice session, Kelly was not in a mood to provide details.
Peters just isn't around, and wasn't around last week, either, it turns out. Initially the Eagles said Peters was among a group of players who missed the May 20 workout - which reporters were allowed to watch - but the team said everyone in that group practiced the next day, when reporters were not present. An Eagles spokesman acknowledged yesterday that wasn't true.
"We know where he is, and we know what's going on," said Kelly, who did not provide any details. "I expect him here shortly." Kelly said there is no injury issue with Peters, who missed last season after tearing and re-tearing his Achilles'.
These OTAs are voluntary, and it isn't unheard of for a veteran to miss parts of them, but with a new coaching staff and new systems to learn, "voluntary" is spelled more like "mandatory." Peters is among an extremely small group of players good enough not to have to worry about the repercussions of not being at NovaCare right now.
Phillips, meanwhile, agreed last week that coaches "most definitely" are easing him in after serious injuries to both knees over the past several years, injuries that forced him to take a 1-year free-agent contract from the Eagles this offseason, just a year after he was a key player on the Super Bowl XLVI-winning Giants team. Phillips said through an Eagles spokesman yesterday that his absence from practice, held in a steady rain, was precautionary. Another source close to the situation said there was no cause for concern.
Kelly, though, did not say that, when asked. He said Phillips was "with the trainers." Asked if Phillips was held out as a precaution, Kelly said: "It's got nothing to do with the weather."
Asked about a Phillips' injury - meaning a new injury, of course - Kelly opted to misunderstand the question.
"Yeah, he's had an injury for a couple of years now," Kelly said.
The question was clarified: Has Phillips suffered a setback?
"I don't ask questions. They [the medical staff] just tell me who's going and who's not going," Kelly said.
Laying it on the line
So Jason Peters was missing yesterday, along with rehabbing starters Jason Kelce (foot) and Evan Mathis (ankle), and was that enough to put 2011 first-round pick Danny Watkins with the first-team offensive line? No, it was not. But Chip Kelly said not to read anything into that.
"We're just rolling guys," Kelly said. "There's first group, second group, and we're rolling people through. Dennis [Kelly] played some left side today, so [offensive-line coach Jeff Stoutland] is just rolling guys through. We get a look at them. Just like I said the last time we talked about it, I wouldn't make too much about who is playing with the first group, who is playing with the second group."
The first group yesterday was Kelly, Allen Barbre, Dallas Reynolds, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson.
Jason Kelce said he expects to do some work in next week's workouts, and to be fully cleared the day before training camp starts . . . Chip Kelly's newest innovation is a large screen-type-thing attached to shoulder pads that equipment guys were wearing to simulate pass rushers with upraised hands yesterday during passing drills, when there was no defensive line. Michael Vick was the only QB to throw a pass into one of the flyswatter-like screens . . . Asked about working in the rain, on slippery grass, something that rarely happened under Andy Reid, Chip Kelly said: "I think football's played outside. Last time I checked, the Linc doesn't have a dome. It rained a little bit. I know it may have been a little inconvenient for you guys, and I do apologize for that, but I think we had a practice. It wasn't like we had a hurricane, or anything like that."