Michael Vick and Nick Foles split first team repetitions at Chip Kelly's first practice
Michael Vick and Nick Foles split the majority of the first team repetitions as the Eagles opened their first minicamp practice under coach Chip Kelly on Tuesday.
The first official practice of the Chip Kelly era featured something that had never occurred during Andy Reid's 14 seasons as Eagles coach: two quarterbacks even on the depth chart and splitting the majority of first-team repetitions.
Michael Vick and Nick Foles took turns running the starting offense Tuesday, as did the recently acquired Dennis Dixon on occasion, according to Kelly. The new Eagles coach closed practice to the media, so there was no opportunity to glean clues as to which QB may have the edge.
But Kelly said during a lively 28-minute news conference that he places little emphasis on the depth chart at this early stage and that he is in no hurry to see the quarterback race - or any positional competition, for that matter - reach a conclusion.
"It's April 16, so we're not playing until next September," Kelly said at the NovaCare Complex. "We're going to use the full available time for us to make a full evaluation of what it is. I think it fosters competition. I think those guys love competition."
Many speculated that when Kelly restructured Vick's contract in February and brought the 32-year-old back, that he would enter the spring as the starter. But the coach has maintained for two months that neither Vick nor Foles - or any other quarterback - will be handed the job.
The Eagles are down to four quarterbacks after Trent Edwards was released Monday. Dixon, who played at Oregon when Kelly was the Ducks offensive coordinator, was signed in February. G.J. Kinne, brought in to be a "camp arm," was added shortly after.
Edwards' release was just the latest move that could be interpreted as Kelly shifting his quarterbacks to his preferences and offensive style. Vick, Dixon, and Kinne are mobile.
After Edwards' release, which he asked for, according to Kelly, Foles is the lone pocket-passer. Before a reporter could finish his question about the parallels in Kelly's offseason moves at quarterback and whether it bodes poorly for Foles' future with the team, the coach cut him off.
"You're making way too much of it," Kelly said. "The best quarterbacks are the best quarterbacks. We'll find a way, no matter who our quarterbacks are, to put a game plan in where they can be successful."
It's possible another quarterback could enter the competition after next week's draft, especially if the Eagles use the No. 4 overall pick on West Virginia's Geno Smith. It seems anything is possible under Kelly, who has made sweeping changes to the roster and to how the team will be run.
Kelly's first practice was faster than what they previously experienced, several players said afterward. The coach said it was slower than the ones he famously ran at Oregon, but that was to be expected because of the smaller numbers - he had as many as 105 players in college - and the players' unfamiliarity.
"I thought for an offseason pace, it was pretty good," Kelly said.
Kelly's strength and conditioning staff ran the players for the first two weeks of offseason workouts in preparation for the up-tempo pace of his practices.
"If we want our guys to understand how to play at game tempo, we have to kind of gear it like game tempo," Kelly said. "So really, it's short bursts, get in, get out, get your work done, and let's go back to teach mode."
The three-day minicamp, which is extended to teams with new coaches, is voluntary, but all 74 players were in attendance, Kelly said. While many fans want to know where players stand on the depth chart and where some may be positioned, Kelly is expected to keep practices closed until he is required to open them to the media next month.
He did say that every player "knows where they stand." Kelly called the depth chart, though, "more of a seating chart than it is a depth chart." He said he was more concerned about getting plays on film for teaching purposes than he was about which players played which teams.
At some point, one quarterback will separate from the others. Vick, of course, has the most experience. But some question whether he can learn new tricks at this point in his career.
"He's thirsty for knowledge," Kelly said. "He's here early every day, wants to learn in the classroom, he's always asking questions. I think sometimes people want to stereotype and say as they get older, [players are] not as receptive. But I think that's a personal decision in terms of where you are."