Chip Kelly confirmed that frustrated running back DeMarco Murray spoke with owner Jeffrey Lurie on the team plane after Murray played only 14 snaps in the Eagles' win on Sunday, but Kelly wanted to make clear that Murray did not seek out Lurie to complain about his role.
"He did not go to the owner," Kelly said Wednesday. "He sat next to the owner on the plane. Our players always sit in first class, and when Mr. Lurie travels with us, he sits there next to them. They sat next to each other on the plane, so he didn't specifically go to Mr. Lurie and say, 'I need to request a meeting with you.' "
The discussion was first reported Tuesday by ESPN. Murray has declined comment this week, saying he speaks to reporters on Thursdays. The Eagles play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, and there's no word on what Murray's role will be in that game.
Kelly said that he spoke with Murray before Murray even spoke with Lurie. Murray had played the most of any running back this season, but was behind Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner on Sunday. The reduced role came during a season when the high-priced running back has not produced to the level expected after leading the NFL in rushing yards last year.
"He expressed disappointment to me before [the flight]," Kelly said. "He wasn't happy with his amount of carries, and rightly so. I think everybody wants to carry the ball in every game. . . . I knew he was frustrated. . . . When you win a big game like that, we want to make sure everybody is on the same page. So yeah, I wanted to talk to him."
Quarterback Sam Bradford, who was Murray's college roommate and remains a friend, called Murray a "great teammate" and said that Murray just wants to contribute. When asked whether Murray is happy, Bradford said that the running back has not told him otherwise.
"I've known DeMarco for a long time, and I think he's a competitor in every sense of the word," Bradford said. "He wants to be on the field, he wants to feel like he's contributing, he wants to touch the ball. . . . He's a great teammate. He was happy on Sunday that we won. But at the same time, he was just a little bit frustrated in his own performance."
Kelly said that Murray has been the player he expected and the person he expected when the Eagles decided to give him a five-year, $40 million deal. But teams don't usually make that type of financial commitment to a player they limit to 14 snaps in a key game.
"He played 14 snaps in this last game, because again, we had 50 snaps overall," Kelly said. "We didn't have the third quarter that we normally have. When we go in every other game we've had, he has been the leading ballcarrier. So we're going to make game plans this week that are going to help us win the Buffalo Bills game, and there is not much else I can say about that."
The number was actually 61 snaps for the Eagles, but one can understand if Kelly does not want facts to get in the way of a good excuse. Because Kelly the coach seems to be in a battle with Kelly the personnel chief this week.
Kelly needs to win games, and the other running backs have been more productive than Murray. Murray averages 3.5 yards per carry. Ryan Mathews averages 5.7 yards per carry, Darren Sproles averages 3.8, and Kenjon Barner averages 4.6. Murray has more carries than the other three running backs combined, and he played the most snaps in every game he had appeared in before Sunday.
Murray earned the playing time based on the way he played before arriving in Philadelphia. The contract also comes with a certain playing time expectation. But three months into the season, Kelly finally made a change. He said the reason was based on matchup and not performance, although it apparently resulted in a frustrated running back.
Kelly knew how Murray felt when he spoke to him after the game. Lurie apparently knew when the two sat next to each other on the team plane. The public knew when the report came out Tuesday.
"I've got confidence in all of those guys," Kelly said. "You'll see all those backs again this week. They're all going to. If Ryan makes it through the week and can play, then he merits playing time; Darren merits playing time; Kenjon merits playing time. They all merit playing time."
Defensive lineman Bennie Logan missed practice because of a knee injury. It was the second consecutive day he missed. Running back Ryan Mathews was limited after missing three games because of a concussion. Cornerback Eric Rowe (ankle) and tackle Lane Johnson (shoulder) were full participants after missing Tuesday. . . . Safety Malcolm Jenkins was named NFC defensive player of the week after making seven tackles and returning an interception for a touchdown Sunday. . . . Defensive lineman Fletcher Cox was named the Eagles' Ed Block Courage Award recipient. Cox's older brother, Shaddrick, died during the offseason from heart disease.