Eagles' McCoy seeks to repair his image
LeSean McCoy leaned back in the audience and asked Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans a question. "How does it feel to have LeSean as a teammate?" the running back asked.
LeSean McCoy leaned back in the audience and asked Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans a question.
"How does it feel to have LeSean as a teammate?" the running back asked.
Ryans walked back to the podium, smiled and said, "He's a good guy. . . . But I'll tell you one thing, I'm glad I don't have to go against him."
For three seasons, McCoy had built that reputation in and around Philadelphia - a good guy and the Eagles player most teams fear. But his off-the-field reputation took a few hits this offseason.
In January, McCoy got into a Twitter spat with the apparent mother of his son. He deleted a series of disparaging tweets made about the woman and then his account, but the damage had been done and a day later he released an apologetic statement.
Four months later, a woman alleged that McCoy and his bodyguard harassed and kicked her off a party bus rented by the running back in December. There was never a police report filed, however, and McCoy is expected to be dropped from the lawsuit, according to a source familiar with the case.
While he has mostly kept a low profile since the incidents, McCoy said Thursday that he understood why some people may now feel differently about him, but "for the most part, I feel like people in Philadelphia got love for me."
"I'm trying to do things the right way," he added. "I hope they understand that. I hope they understand that I'm human also."
Drafted at 20, the 25-year-old McCoy said that he has done a lot of growing up in five years, especially since his son, LeSean Jr., was born last year.
"I'm a professional athlete and I'm also a father," McCoy said. "This is my job and when I go home I'm a father. Other than that immature thing, I can say I put it [behind] me because of him."
McCoy also said that he spent much of the offseason trying to put the concussion that knocked him out of four games last season behind him. He has said he was as dedicated to his conditioning as he had ever been.
But he and Chip Kelly got off to a rocky start when the new coach didn't allow McCoy to make up a missed workout day that cost him $100,000, a source close to the situation said. Once practices began, McCoy fell in love with Kelly's up-tempo scheme.
It was easy to see why in the season opener on Monday night as McCoy ran for 184 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. The only apparent issue was McCoy's competitiveness. Kelly wanted to rest him a few times in the first half, but McCoy wouldn't come off the field.
"He explained to me, which I love, 'You've got your playmakers, but you've got a long game,' " McCoy said. "That first quarter felt like a first half. So we had 56 plays in the half, so there's nothing wrong with coming off and getting a break.
"It's all about the team. And when he let me know that it was for the other guys, I understood it."
Even with fewer touches, McCoy could be on pace to shatter his career-high rushing mark of 1,309 yards in 2011. Asked if he set a goal like Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, who recently claimed that 2,500 yards on the ground was within reach, McCoy said that he only had team goals.
"I look at [Peterson] and I think he's probably the best running back in the league right now," McCoy said. "But [the Vikings] don't win. You've got the record, but did your team win? I don't want to get in that mind-set."
Defensive end Brandon Graham thought he would be traded during the offseason.
"Yep, a little bit," he said Wednesday. "But I knew that if they gave me the opportunity to prove myself, I would probably end up being here."
The Eagles were moving from 4-3 to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and although Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis said that he would transition into an outside linebacker, Graham said he wasn't sure how he would fit.
Like Trent Cole, Graham was more than willing to learn a new position, but he has drifted into the background as a reserve and special-teams player. The former first-round draft pick played 15 snaps on defense in the opener and 21 on special teams.
"It's cool. I'm going to do whatever they ask me to do," Graham said. "Right now, if it's special teams or how many plays I get in there, I'm going to just do it."
Like Graham, Vinny Curry is another high draft pick that has been a victim of changes in the scheme. The second-year defensive end did not dress against the Redskins. Kelly and Davis said that Curry was the odd man out because the Eagles focused on stopping the run.
"It was a little bit disappointing, but it was the decision made," said Curry, who was drafted in the second round. "Shoot, I was just happy we won."
The Eagles had Curry add 15 pounds in the offseason as he moved from being an edge rusher to one who played inside in the 3-4. But Curry isn't suited to play as a two-gap defensive end and now the Eagles have talked about playing him at outside linebacker or in specialized roles.
"If you can ball," Curry said, "you can ball."
Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson were two of at least a dozen Eagles who stayed after Thursday's practice to get extra work.
"Since the summer, everybody's been doing extra work, extra conditioning, even though we run a lot out there," Vick said afterward. "It's the mind-set that we've got. I can run 15 gassers right now and not even be tired."
Vick, crediting Kelly's sports-science regimen, said that he was in the best shape of his 11-year career. "I spent so much time away from the game," he said. "If you think about it, it's really only my eighth full season."
All three running backs - McCoy, Bryce Brown and Chris Polk - took passes from rookie quarterback Matt Barkley. Wide receiver Riley Cooper, working with an assistant, was the last man on the field. Rookie tight end Zach Ertz, who has struggled with drops, has become a devotee of receiver Jason Avant's post-practice jug machine catching routine.
"Usually it gets worse before it gets better," Ertz said of his pass-catching issue. "Lucky for me, the worst has been behind me."
Barkley's new role
For the first time in his football-playing career, Barkley had to watch a game from the bench. The third-string quarterback was not active on Monday night and he admitted it took adjusting.
He charted plays with backup Nick Foles, who has been taking a few first-team repetitions in practice. NFL coaches typically give their starters all the snaps during game week, but Kelly said that it was important to keep his backups ready. Barkley has yet to take a first-team snap.
"I'm only the third quarterback," he said. "Got to know your place on the team."
Around the Room
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis gave Trent Cole a strong compliment on Wednesday when he said that the ninth-year linebacker has never given less than 100 percent in a game. Cole, who signed a four-year contract extension last year, said he wouldn't have it any other way. "The Eagles signed me to a contract," he said. "If they go tell me to go be a kicker, I'm going to be a kicker. This is my job. I've got an obligation."
Chip Kelly's day-after-game recovery schedule is much different from what most players said they had experienced with the Eagles and other teams. "They're more in tune to it," linebacker Connor Barwin said. "Everyone else, it's just you come in, 'How do you feel? All right, you feel OK. See you tomorrow.' . . . But [here] you have to fill out some stuff, you've got to check with your strength coach." Barwin was asked: Fill out what? "Sports science stuff," he said, careful not to reveal too much about Kelly's secretive program.
- Jeff McLaneEndText
BY THE NUMBERS
Michael Vick needed a league-high 3.33 seconds before he got rid of the ball against the Redskins, according to Pro Football Focus. Last season, only Washington's Robert Griffin III held onto the ball longer than Vick's 3.07 seconds.
After 32 missed tackles in four preseason games, the Eagles had only three against the Redskins. They didn't have a game with less than four last season.
The Eagles blitzed 24 times, acording to PFF. The most they blitzed in a 2012 game was 11 times.