By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) —Eagles general manager Howie Roseman popped out of his cool office unto the NovaCare Complex grounds on a balmy Monday afternoon before a phalanx of tape recorders, jostling cameramen and myriad mics to address a few pertinent things.
Roseman covered the signing of first-round draft pick Lane Johnson, the nebulous quarterback situation, the amount of hitting Chip Kelly will do and how new head coach Chip Kelly’s practices may look.
“When we drafted Lane, he and his agent told us how important it was for him to be in camp on time and they held up to their word,” Roseman said. “It shows a lot about the player. He didn’t wait until the last minute. He wanted to get this done and we were able to get it done. I think there are fewer issues with rookie contracts than there used to be, which is great for all of us.
“We talked about a few issues we needed to work through, and it’s definitely important to have everyone here. That was a priority for us, and clearly a priority for Lane, too. It brings everyone up to speed [when they’re in the first day of camp]. It’s a lot like freshman orientation. Being here, and because they’ve been here a little while, they know where everything is. It’s getting up to speed where everything is going fast. I’m sure you guys will be hearing that word a little bit—‘fast.’”
Roseman said the Eagles are still trying to figure out the back end of the 90-man roster, but the importance was fostering a highly competitive camp.
The Eagles have 40 new players on this roster, as opposed to this time last year. Players like Trent Cole, for example, who may be moved back to a stand-up outside linebacker’s role.
“That’s the whole thing, we’re trying to get the right player and the right scheme fits for what we’re trying to do on offense, defense and special teams,” Roseman said. “It’s going to take time to figure that out. Some guys are doing things for the first time, and you have to give them the benefit of a doubt. They’re brought here for a reason and whether they fit here and whether or not they’re able to do the things we’re asking them to do, it’s not going to happen overnight. We want to give those guys time to fit into the system.”
Roseman also stressed that new Eagles’ coach Chip Kelly will spend more time during this training camp teaching, and de-emphasized the practices won’t be moving as rapidly as they did during organized team activities (OTAs).
Kelly has certain preferences of how many players he would like to have at certain positions.
“You want to make sure the last seven guys [on the final 46-man roster] are the best players,” Roseman said. “We’re not going to go overboard on certain positions. We want to make sure we have the right mix. We have discussions and it’s good to have those discussions.”
The Eagles will have far more positions open than they have had in over a decade, which also means at quarterback, in the battle between Michael Vick, Nick Foles and Matt Barkley.
“Internally, the leadership part, all of these guys have been leaders of their team, they’ve all been ‘the guy’ at one time or another,” Roseman said. “That comes into play. Once you’re playing, that all happens. If we’re going to stress competition, we’re going to make sure that it’s everywhere. It’s July 22 and we don’t play for a long time.”
Roseman didn’t rule out the possibility, how faint it may be right now, of rookie Barkley playing a far greater role for the Eagles at the outset of 2013.
“We try to keep an open mind about everyone on our roster, you have to be open to surprises and can’t be watching a tape looking at certain guys, because you may miss something,” Roseman said. “Those are things you have to be aware of, how everyone is playing, not just the guys you perceive to be in the competition.”
Reid liked to hit as much as the NFL player’s CBA allowed. Will Kelly do the same?
“I think there’s going to be moments when [Kelly] wants to get a sense of the team and what he wants to do,” Roseman said. “He’s about physical football, and that’s important to him on both sides of the ball. He wants to balance that with evaluations, making sure everyone gets the reps and our guys aren’t on the ground.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.