Kelly making sure Eagles eat, sleep football - the right way - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Eagles/NFL

Kelly making sure Eagles eat, sleep football - the right way - pressofAtlanticCity.com: Eagles/NFL

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Kelly making sure Eagles eat, sleep football - the right way

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 12:05 am | Updated: 12:19 am, Thu Apr 18, 2013.

PHILADELPHIA - Eagles defensive end Trent Cole and 73 other players walked off the practice field at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday to find individually prepared protein smoothies waiting for them in the lobby, along with a basket of protein bars and fruit.

"I've never been a big smoothie guy, but I like these," Cole said. "I like banana splits, so mine has banana and chocolate in it."

The post-practice drinks are among a bunch of changes that new Eagles coach Chip Kelly has instituted since being hired to replace Andy Reid on Feb. 16.

Besides overhauling the roster - 28 of the 74 players participating in this week's minicamp were not with the team last season - Kelly also has switched the players' locker assignments, revamped the menu in the cafeteria, conducted tests to determine how much sleep each player should be getting, and even taken to playing music during every practice.

"I love the music during practice," tight end Brent Celek said. "It makes it fun and keeps you interested in what's going on. It's like you're sitting in a nice restaurant and start talking to the people at the table next to you."

The new players should have no difficulty adapting to Kelly's methods, but it could be more difficult for established Eagles veterans such as Cole, Celek, wide receiver Jason Avant and tackle Todd Herremans. Cole and Herremans are the longest-tenured players on the team, having arrived in 2005. Avant was drafted in 2006 and Celek in 2007.

They are used to doing things the Andy Reid way.

"It's definitely different," Celek said. "We were so used to coach Reid for so long. But things change and I love what coach Kelly has brought here so far. It's awesome. Between the smoothies, the food and everything else, he's giving us everything we need to be successful."

Success has eluded the Eagles for a while. They have not been to the Super Bowl since the 2004 season, have not won a playoff game since 2008 and missed the playoffs the last two seasons.

They hit bottom in 2012, finishing at 4-12. Only Jacksonville (2-14) and Kansas City (2-14), which hired Reid, had worse records last season.

"When you're coming off the kind of season we had last year, there's nothing wrong with change," Cole said. "We're not scared of change. Change is good. It gives us a fresh start. It's a new team, a new atmosphere and everybody's in the same boat. For myself, I'm having a good time with it. I feel like I'm a rookie all over again. It's fun."

Everybody's in the same boat, but the players are sitting in different seats.

Unlike in past seasons, when lockers were assigned according to positions, the players are scattered. For instance, Cole's stall at the NovaCare Complex is located between those of running back Bryce Brown and wide receiver Marvin McNutt instead of fellow defensive linemen Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham.

"I'm used to being near the other D-linemen, but that's OK," Cole said with a laugh. "I'll talk to anybody because I'm a nice guy."

Head athletic trainer Chris Peduzzi, strength and conditioning coach Josh Hingst, and sports science coordinator Shaun Huls also have had an impact.

The Eagles practice at an extremely fast pace that they hope will carry over into games. In order to preserve strength and stamina, Kelly ordered the athletic training staff and Huls - who previously worked with the Navy SEALs - to improve their nutrition and recovery. As a result, the Eagles conducted a study to determine how much sleep each player should be getting.

"I found out I need between eight and nine hours, which is more than I'm used to," Cole said. "But I'm a big believer in everything we're doing here. I'm not scared of change and no one else should be, either. Everything he's doing is going to help us. This is Chip's team now and if you want to play for him, you'd better be all in."

Extra points: Cole said he's unsure about what position he'll play for Kelly and defensive coordinator Billy Davis. He could remain as a defensive end or may switch to outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Cole said he hopes to play at 260 pounds, about 10 less than his normal playing weight. He underwent offseason surgery after suffering torn tendons and a broken bone in his right hand during last season.

Contact David Weinberg:

609-272-7186

DWeinberg@pressofac.com

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James Clark
  • James Clark
  • Assistant Soccer Coach at St. Augustine Prep
  • James Clark has been writing about soccer for various media outlets, including The Press of Atlantic City, for 15 years. The Northfield resident coached travel teams in the South Jersey Soccer League for a decade and is currently an assistant soccer coach at St. Augustine Prep. Clark's blog will appear three times a week and daily during this summer's World Cup.
Mike McGarry
David Weinberg