Online Extra: Chip Kelly Era starts in Philly
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
PHILADELPHIA — Chip Kelly has three starting quarterbacks if his first practice was an indication.
Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Dennis Dixon each took reps with the starting unit when the Philadelphia Eagles took the field Tuesday for the first time since Kelly replaced Andy Reid as the head coach.
Which quarterback will line up under center when the Eagles play their first regular-season game in September? No one knows, including Kelly.
“There wasn’t one set guy that just went with the ones the entire day,” Kelly said. “All those guys got an opportunity to roll through.
“It’s April 16, so we’re not playing until next September. 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. That’s why they’re in that position, and they know it.”
The former Oregon coach compared his depth chart to a “seating chart.” He said it’s way too early to determine starters at several positions and this pre-draft camp is all about getting players familiar with his system.
“I think our guys really understand and I think everybody right now knows where they stand, and that’s a big thing for us,” he said. “There’s not a lot of gray area. It’s everybody knows we’re all going to get a lot of reps. We want to get film on tape so we can teach. Really sometimes the only way you can teach somebody is they’ve got to make a mistake. You can coach off of it. What did you see here? What was going on in your mind when you made this decision. Do you understand we have to make this decision, and our coverage dictates us going one way as opposed to another way? You can talk about that all you want, but until they do it, that is the biggest thing for us.”
Vick had a breakout year in 2010, started for the NFC in the Pro Bowl, led the Eagles to an NFC East title and was The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year. But he has missed 11 games because of injuries over the last three seasons, and is 10-13 as a starter the last two years.
The Eagles made a surprising decision to restructure Vick’s contract in February, and Kelly is giving him an opportunity to win the starting job.
Kelly’s up-tempo offense was highly successful at Oregon and would seem to be a fit for Vick’s running style. But Kelly has insisted that he’s impressed with Foles’ skills, too. Foles is more of a traditional pocket passer.
Dixon, who spent last season with the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens on their practice squad, signed a two-year deal with the Eagles in February.
The 28-year-old Dixon had a standout career at Oregon when Kelly was the team’s offensive coordinator. A fifth-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2008, Dixon has only started three NFL games in five seasons.
“We’ll find a way no matter who our quarterbacks are to put a game plan in where they can be successful,” Kelly said. “Sometimes there’s a misconception of what I’m looking for in a quarterback. I’m looking for a quarterback that can help us score points and win games. If we have to throw it 50 times, we’ll throw it 50 times.”
Of course, the starting QB might be a rookie that the Eagles draft later this month. Philadelphia holds the No. 4 pick and several draft experts predict Geno Smith will be the team’s pick. Smith threw for 4,205 yards and led the nation with 42 touchdown passes last season at West Virginia.
Florida State’s EJ Manuel and Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib also are possibilities outside the first round.
“All really good quarterbacks,” Kelly said. “I don’t think there is an Andrew Luck or RG3 (Robert Griffin III) or someone that you say that guy’s going to be a 10- year All-Pro, one of the best.”
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