Mychal Kendricks is one of the few holdovers from last season who retains the same locker stall at the NovaCare Complex. Doug Pederson's arrival meant that players returned to being grouped by position in the locker room rather than at random, as Chip Kelly preferred.
It would be understandable, though, if Kendricks had asked to be moved a few stalls down - perhaps to DeMeco Ryans' old spot - to wipe away any reminder of the 2015 season. The linebacker didn't play well last year. At the very least, and by his own admission, he was inconsistent.
Kendricks hasn't skirted culpability for his performance. Nor should he. But it wouldn't be fair to assign him sole blame. The Eagles signed him to a four-year, $29 million extension with nearly $12 million guaranteed just before the opener. Typically, that kind of commitment would secure a player's full-time role.
But the 25-year-old Kendricks played a significantly smaller percentage of snaps last season as part of an inside-linebacker rotation that at various points consisted also of Kiko Alonso, Jordan Hicks, and Ryans. Some players can handle part-time roles. Others - such as Kendricks, clearly - cannot.
"I do what my coaches ask me to do, and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability," Kendricks said Tuesday. "That was something that those coaches wanted me to do at that time. It was hard for me to accept that. But I'm a team player. As hard as it was for me to sit back, I did what was asked of me."
It's unclear whether that coaching staff initially had plans to split playing time all season. Kendricks did play every snap until he injured his hamstring in the second game. But when he made a full return five weeks later, he logged only 70 percent of the playing time in the final 10 games.
When healthy, Kendricks played every, or nearly every, snap in the two previous years. But staying healthy has been a problem. He missed all or part of 13 games during his first four seasons - almost all because of soft-tissue injuries.
The fact isn't lost on Kendricks.
"I feel if I stay healthy, you'll see me in the Pro Bowl," he said. "Those are things you can't control. Unfortunately, a couple of times I've fallen short of my personal goal because of an injury. No one wants that. But I'm not making an excuse or anything. That's just what it is, and I used to beat myself up over that."
When Pro Bowlers were announced toward the end of the 2014 season, Kendricks sat at his locker and couldn't hide his frustration. There is an argument that he shouldn't have allowed last season's decrease in playing time to affect his mental state, either.
But it was clear he wasn't the same linebacker who persuaded the Eagles to open their wallet before he had reached the conclusion of his rookie deal. Kendricks has always had his ups and downs as a run defender. But what surprised most last year was how much he had regressed in coverage.
"I just feel like it was too much hot and cold with all the players rotating in and out and whatnot," Kendricks said. "No one was able to get in a flow. It was odd. But I didn't feel I played as good or as much. For the time that I was in I felt like my numbers were OK. It's hard to be a force or something to reckon with when you're not on the field."
Kendricks should be on the field more this season as the Eagles transition back to a 4-3 "under" defense. Ryans was released and Alonso was traded, leaving only Hicks and him from last year's various rotations. Nigel Bradham was acquired, but he will likely play the strong-side spot, while Kendricks and Hicks likely play all three downs.
With Bradham at strong side, opposite the tight end, Hicks has played primarily in the middle and Kendricks at weak side this spring. New defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz hasn't committed to traditional 4-3 responsibilities, though. He said he may just have "right" and left" outside linebackers.
"I think that decision will be made as we go through training camp and go through preseason games, whether we're going to play right or left, or whether they're going to travel with a tight end or travel to the open side," Schwartz said. "You know, there is something to be said for both of them."
Kendricks has virtually done it all, both in scheme and position. As a rookie, he started out as the strong side in a similar 4-3 defense before moving to weak side later on. The Eagles wanted to take advantage of Kendricks' coverage skills by initially having him over the tight end, but weak side theoretically allowed him to utilize his athleticism in space.
But the wide-nine front, which allowed for linemen to penetrate, meant that Kendricks and the linebackers had more run-gap responsibility and more offensive linemen in their faces. The problem wasn't as much scheme as it was personnel, execution, and coaching.
"At one point in time I had D to A gap," Kendricks said, referring to the distance from the center to the tight end. "I remember that. That's crazy."
Schwartz's run defenses have historically been solid. Kendricks said that he was still trying to pin down why that is. Linebackers in a 4-3 "under" scheme should specialize in moving downhill north to south. The two-gap 3-4, which often has linemen hold up blockers and read before reacting, is catered more to east-to-west linebackers who can run down running backs in the open field.
"We may see more people in our face, which means we would have to be more physical," Kendricks said. "I'm all for it."
To prepare for the physicality of the coming season, Kendricks has bulked up. He said he now weighs 250 pounds. He typically played at around 235.
"I feel strong. I feel fast still. But I'm a lot more stout than I was," Kendricks said. "I think you can tell. I'm pretty big right now."
The Eagles would take healthy and consistent.