PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles are gearing up for their mandatory mini-camp this week. The team’s assistant coaches believe the off-season is off to a strong start.
The assistants took time to update the status of their units on Monday as the staff met with the media in South Philadelphia. One coach who received plenty of attention was John DeFilippo, who continues to work with Carson Wentz. Most fans agree the continued development of Wentz is one of the most important story lines of the upcoming season. DeFilippo says the second-year signal caller continues to improve and likes the confidence he sees from Wentz as he continues to establish himself as a leader.
“He’s a very confident guy,” said DeFilippo. “He’s confident in his own ability, but doesn’t show it to everyone else. You would never think he was arrogant or cocky, but he is confident in his ability. I think that’s rubbed off on a lot of people in the off-season.”
Wentz is expected to have confidence in his offensive line this season. The Eagles have been happy with both their starting five and their backups heading into the summer. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland says it’s now up to the younger players to take the next step heading into the season.
“I feel very good,” Stoutland said. “We have a lot of depth. I feel like, still, the younger players need to understand that we need to see improvement. I know a lot of the older guys and I know what they are capable of. For some of the younger players, there needs to be a push to get better.”
On defense, rookie Derek Barnett has opened a lot of eyes during the team’s OTAs. One person who has been impressed is defensive line coach Chris Wilson, but Wilson cautioned the rookie still has a lot to learn when it comes to adjusting to playing on the NFL level.
“He hasn’t put any pads on,” said Wilson. “What I do love about him is that he’s a thermostat. He’s not a thermometer. He’s not trying to go in and gauge the temperature of the room. He has the right mindset, but the only way to learn on this level is to play.”
While all of the coaches are looking to blend the rookies in with the veterans, running backs coach Duce Staley is pleased with a veteran addition to the backfield. Running back LeGarrette Blount earned a Super Bowl ring last year with the Patriots and Staley is hoping the bruising back will solve the Eagles short-yardage issues from last season.
“You give him the ball behind the line that we have and you expect success,” Staley said. “Every time we touch the ball, I expect success and not just in short yardage. We’ve just got to make sure we get LeGarrette in and he’s been doing great.”
But for Staley, Blount and the rest of the players will truly be tested when training camp gets underway.
“You can draw a lot of things on paper,” said Staley. “But a lot of that stuff is determined in camp. When you’re out there on the gridiron on those hot, sweaty summer days and see your line coming off the ball and hitting holes, that’s when you start to steady things a little more and come out realizing that this is what we’re going to be.”