PHILADELPHIA - Since being named the Eagles head coach on Jan. 16, Chip Kelly has continually demonstrated a willingness to defy conventional football practices by introducing innovative physical and even mental techniques in a effort to get the most out of the players.
His latest move happened earlier this week when he brought in retired U.S. Navy SEAL officer Coleman Ruiz to speak to the rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans about training during 45-minute sessions known as High Performance Mindset Meetings.
According to the website TheProgram.org, Ruiz served 12 years as a SEAL while completing six deployments to the Middle East and leading about 85 combat operations as a troop commander.
"It's awesome when Coach Kelly brings in guys like that to talk to us about their mindset, what they think about, what their mentality is," tight end James Casey told the Eagles' website Wednesday. "They're life and death with what they're doing and we're just out here playing a game. So when he talks to us about what his warrior mindset is and how he trains, it really resonates with us. It means a lot to have guys like that come out and talk to us."
Ruiz's appearances were the latest moves by Kelly intended to get the players to perform at a peak level.
One of his first hires upon arriving in Philadelphia was sports science coordinator Shawn Huls, who also previously worked with the Navy SEALs. During offseason workouts, the Eagles conducted a study to determine how much sleep each player should get each day. Players were given individual protein shakes after each practice. Music is blared during practices to help improve focus amid distractions.
"It's all about being able to perform at a high level day in and day out," assistant head coach Jerry Azzinaro, who also worked with Kelly at the University of Oregon, said Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. "That's the way he approaches each day and each practice. We're in rare-
fied air and he wants the players to perform at that level."
To that end, every second of every day is accounted for via practices, weight-room workouts, meetings, meals and recovery time. Azzinaro said Kelly prefers to bring in experts in various fields to talk to the team rather than give rah-rah speeches or give out T-shirts with catchy phrases.
Unlike in past seasons, the Eagles special-teams players won't wear shirts reading "Tip of the Spear."
"There's no sense wearing T-shirts that say a bunch of (baloney) on them," Azzinaro said. "It's just a slogan."
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