PHILADELPHIA — Thoughts and observations from the Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp practice here Friday:
Williams’s Rant: Eagles cornerback Cary Williams made news after Friday’s practice when he called the New England Patriots “cheaters” and said he’s not eager to participate in joint practices with them. But the comments by Williams, who previously spent four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and was kicked out of an Eagles joint practice with the Patriots last year after getting into a fight, were part of a longer rant about generally disliking joint training-camp practices with another team.
“I’m not a fan of that, to be honest with you,” Williams said when asked about the topic. “But like I said before in previous interviews and I’m gonna continue to say that, I’m employee [No.] 26. I’m here. Whatever Coach says goes, you know what I mean, and that’s that. It’s not my job to be the coach. It’s not my job to be a player-coach. I’m a player. So it’s my job to go out there and compete against whoever’s in front of me, whether it’s our team or the next team or whoever. So I’m putting my best foot forward every opportunity I get.”
Williams then was asked what he doesn’t like about such practices.
“I mean, we play them already in the preseason. So what else do you get from them?” he said. “You know what I mean? What else do you get? What else do you want to see? We’re still gonna compete on that field on the same day. So to be honest with you, I don’t see why we’ve got to go three and four days with those guys if we’re gonna play them on the fourth day. They know us. We’re gonna know them. I like the mystery, you know what I mean? I used to like the mystery. You just come into camp. You do your camp. You go against those other guys and you get that itch to go hit some other guy. When you practice against other guys, other teams early on, you don’t get that itch. That itch is gone. And then there’s certain things in practice that I didn’t agree with that went down, so I know it’s gonna be the same thing this year. To me, I didn’t see how we benefited from that practice at all. And maybe it’s because I do not like the Patriots. Maybe that’s what it is.”
The questions continued: What if it was just some random team and not the Patriots?
“I don’t care about any team,” Williams said. “I don’t want to do none of that. To be honest with you, it’s not my responsibility. It’s not my place. To be honest with you, I just want to go out at camp, play camp. And oh, we’ve got so-and-so? All right, the itch is back. They’re gonna get coached up on certain things. I mean, you can’t show your cards in those situations, you know what I mean? I mean, it ain’t no disrespect to them, man. I’ve got a lot of things to say about that situation. But I’m just employee 26.”
Williams wasn’t done, and the small group of reporters surrounding him as he stood on the field following practice certainly remained willing to listen.
“Yeah, but those guys, if you’re a smart coach, you understand that hey, there’s certain signals that’s gonna be used out there on that practice field,” Williams said. “You don’t want to give any team, I don’t care whether it’s the Patriots or it’s the dang Bengals, whoever it is, you don’t want to give them an opportunity to look at your stuff. That’s just me, from a personal standpoint. I don’t want to show none of my cards. So to me, it’s not benefiting us because they’ve already proven who they are. That’s their history. I don’t like them. Not only because of that, but because—I just don’t like them. I played them three or four times in a row. I feel the same way about the Pittsburgh Steelers. I don’t like them either. So that’s just been my bringing up, upbringing. And now I’m starting not to like any team in this division. I don’t know. There’s other stuff, man. There’s a lot of stuff that goes along in this. I’m trying not to go into details about it or disrespect that organization because I give that organization nothing but—you’ve still got to go out there and play the game. All the credit. I give them all the credit in the world. But one fact still remains: They haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught.”
So Williams provided an opening, and he was goaded more than a little bit at this point. One media member said: “They cheated. Just say they cheated.”
“They are cheaters,” he said. “They are. You got caught. I know you’re gonna be looking at the film when we go out there. That’s just that. I don’t want to show them my cards. That’s just me. Not them. Not them. They’ve got a history of it. Every team is gonna look at it anyway. We’re gonna look at what they do, too.”
The Patriots, who were punished by the NFL in 2007 in the “Spygate” scandal for improperly videotaping opponents’ coaching signals, began a series of joint practices Monday in Richmond with the Washington Redskins. They have joint practices scheduled with the Eagles again this summer beginning Aug. 12.
Kelly’s Candor: The Eagles’ Chip Kelly is unusually straightforward for an NFL head coach when speaking to the media. He was asked Friday about his team’s depth at wide receiver. Instead of giving the typical “Next man up” coach-speak about liking his team’s depth, Kelly acknowledged that any coach likes his depth right up until the moment he loses an irreplaceable player.
“I don’t know about that,” Kelly said. “I don’t worry about that. I like our wide receiver depth on Friday. We’ve got enough guys to run around, run routes. So I’m not concerned with that. I never get involved with: What’s our depth here? What’s our depth there? The biggest decision we’re doing right now is making evaluations of who’s gonna make the team because we have to, at some point in time, we’ve got 12 or 13 of those guys and are gonna have to cut down to five or six, depending on how we juggle the roster, with the 53-man roster, and then how many guys get on the practice squad.
“If a guy gets hurt, a guy gets hurt. You can say that about any position on our football team or any other team in the National Football League. You know, if we were to lose LeSean McCoy, then we’re down at the running back spot. But if not, then we feel really good about our depth. So I think when you do that as a coach and start to look at, ‘What if I lose him? What if I lose him?’ I think there’s not much you can really do about it.”
Kelly and Meyer: Kelly spent some time this summer with Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer, sharing coaching thoughts.
“He was here for a couple days,” Kelly said Friday. “I’ve known Urban for a long time, have great respect for him. I think he’s one of the all-time great coaches in college football. He’s actually very, very good friends with [Eagles defensive coordinator] Billy Davis. Billy and him went to college together. So I visited Urban when he was at Florida. I went to Ohio State this year to watch a practice. He’s just one of the guys I talk a lot of football with, and it was good to get a chance to do that again. We shared ideas. We get as much out of them as they get out of us.”
The conversations run the gamut, Kelly said.
“It’s plays,” he said. “It’s schemes. It’s, ‘What are you doing off the field?’ It’s everything.”
Kelly, entering his second season with the Eagles since leaving Oregon and the college ranks, said he wouldn’t be comfortable at this point sharing insights with a fellow NFL coach.
“I don’t think anybody in the NFL sits down with anybody in the NFL,” he said. “It’s just like when we were in the Pac-12: We didn’t visit with other teams in our league, but you visited with teams that you don’t play. I think that’s kind of how it works at the college level, kind of the sharing of ideas from that standpoint is how it works. You may talk to a friend of yours that’s in the league about a scheme. Everybody runs the same thing: ‘How are you teaching the out route?’ But I don’t think they’re getting into real details of what they’re doing.”
Illegal Contact: The NFL has made enforcing illegal contact in the secondary a “major” point of officiating emphasis this season, the first time in seven years that the sport has made illegal contact a point of emphasis.
Players are getting a feel for how things will be called during the game officials’ visits to training camps league-wide. The officials visited the Eagles’ camp Friday and were on the field for that day’s practice. Plenty of flags were thrown during one-on-one passing drills between receivers and defensive backs, not all of them against the defensive players. Receivers also were called for pushing off.
The point is getting across to the players.
“They’re putting an over-emphasis on the five-yard rule,” Williams said. “That five-yard rule, that halo that you have to get your press in, to get the re-route in, it’s gonna be at five. It’s not gonna be six, seven like how it used to be, or you can still ride him a little bit. It’s not gonna be that. As long as the quarterback’s in the pocket and the ball is in his hand, they’re gonna get you for five yards illegal touching or hands or whatever it may be, whatever those calls are.”