By Kevin McGuire
After a bye week the Philadelphia Eagles are back to the grind this week. On Sunday the Eagles will take on the Arizona Cardinals in a somewhat intriguing match-up of 5-1 teams. It also looks as though the Eagles could be getting some bodies back in the mix as well. As the Eagles get back in game-mode, Chip Kelly and his team are all business.
Kelly said on Tuesday a number of players got back to practicing this week. Running backs Darren Sproles and Chris Polk returned, and so to did linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Center Jason Kelce is even expected to practice this week, according to Kelly, and offensive guard Evan Mathis is scheduled to practice on Wednesday. The Eagles could be getting healthy and stronger at just the right time, because the second leg of the season is going to be a challenging one. That challenge starts this weekend with the road game at Arizona.
Despite some numbers suggesting Arizona is struggling against the pass, Kelly is giving plenty of respect to what the Cardinals do when opposing offenses look to throw the football. Make no mistake about it, the Eagles would like to be able to move the football through the air.
“What are you going to do when the Cardinals are up? You’re going to throw the ball on them, so they’re going to give up more passing yards,” Kelly explained, according to PhiladelphiaEagles.com. “I think their defense is outstanding. It’s just the Cardinals offense is so good, they’ve been up in almost every game they’ve played, so people at the end of the game have to throw the ball more than they have to run the ball.”
Getting a good jump on offense is what Kelly hopes his team is able to do this week. In most games this season, that was not the case. Against the New York Giants, the Eagles locked in early and were able to slam the door shut on their NFC East rivals. It was a good way to head into the bye week for Philadelphia, and Kelly hopes that momentum carries over after a week off.
“Obviously, the pluses are you get a break,” Kelly said about the benefits of getting some time off. “We had been at it for 10 straight weeks – or a little bit longer than 10 weeks — but we played 10 games, including the four preseason games, so you get a little chance to rest up, get away from it for a little bit, not only physically, but mentally, so I look at it as a plus.”
If Kelly had his say in the schedule, he would have moved right on to the next game on the schedule though. That just falls in line with his on-the-move approach to the game.
“If I had my choice, I would rather have it the way we have it right now,” Kelly said. “I thought we played well, I thought we played with good energy, I thought we played hard, but there’s still a lot of things we can do to be a better football team.”
When the Eagles head to Arizona they will do so chasing the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East and jostling with the Cardinals for potential playoff positioning. As the season progresses, the importance of each game will continue to rise. Kelly sounds ready for that challenge. It’s back to business for the Eagles.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.