Eagles Camp Notes: Andrew Gardner Settling in at Right Guard
PHILADELPHIA - If you really want to know what's going on with your favorite football team, don't listen to the head coach, watch what he's doing.
For whatever reason Chip Kelly won't admit that veteran offensive lineman Andrew Gardner has separated himself in the battle for the Eagles' starting right guard position but the Georgia Tech product got the nod in the team's preseason opener against Indianapolis on Sunday and was back with the No. 1s at practice Tuesday, his fourth straight go-round with the first-teamers.
"The more work you can get with those guys (the starters), the better," Gardner told 973ESPN.com after practice Tuesday. "If I end up being the guy, the more work I have with them is good. All reps are good."
The first-team reps were evenly distributed between Gardner, Matt Tobin, Julian Vandervelde and John Moffitt through Philadelphia's first eight practices of camp before Gardner stepped into the rotation again and never left.
Another sign pointing toward Gardner was Kelly's assessment of the offensive line play against the Colts. He lauded the starters for their play while poking the reserves a bit for allowing a little too much push on Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow. Furthermore, the coach even singled out Gardner's steadiness.
"Andrew Gardner is very consistent," Chip claimed. "You know exactly what you're getting. He's always in the right spot."
"Everybody strives to be consistent," Gardner said in response to Kelly's comments. "I mean every game I try to do the best I can."
The final tea leaf that reads Gardner is the lack of cross-training he's done since being elevated to the first team. Kelly often talks about the versatility backups on the offensive line need and players like Tobin and Vandervelde continue to get looks at multiple positions.
"It helps (the chemistry) to be in the same position," Gardner said. "Not only for me but for the guys around me."
Despite all of those signals, however, Kelly has still refused to anoint Gardner the starter in what began as a four-man competition and has now been whittled down to a two-man race between the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Georgia native and Moffitt, a former Seattle third-round pick who is trying to salvage his career after some serious off-field issues.
"There were some real good things to build upon for Moffitt (against Indianapolis)," Kelly said. "Also some inconsistencies and that's to be expected after not playing for two years."
The hedging seems to be a floor versus ceiling debate for Kelly. Moffitt has the better skill set and a higher upside than Gardner but the rust is still there.
In the meantime Gardner is just going about his business.
"I don't know. I don't feel there is ever much separation in this business at all," Gardner said when asked about his place in the starting lineup. "I mean Chip could come out here today and say 'Andrew Gardner is the starter' and two days from now, be like 'never mind.'
"So, Game 1, Game 2, Game 3, no one ever has anything locked up in this league. So I'll play right guard until they tell me I'm not playing right guard."
TUESDAY CAMP CHATTER:
*Inside Linebacker Kiko Alonso was back in a limited fashion after missing nearly two weeks with a concussion. Alonso was with the first-team in teaching periods and did a little light individual work.
“We’ll ease him back in," Kelly said. “He’s missed a few days. So he won’t go through the full practice. He’ll start going through the agility (drills) and stuff like that. I think mentally he’s good ... He should be good to go by the end of the week.’’
*Fellow inside 'backer DeMeco Ryans, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last season, didn't practice but is expected back Wednesday when the team begins three days of joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens in advance of Saturday's preseason game.
*Kelly hardly hid his displeasure with injured safety Earl Wolff, who continues to struggle in his return from microfracture knee surgery. "He says he can't run with his knee," the coach quipped.
*The Eagles made a minor roster move, signing LB Dasman McCullum (Southern Mississippi) and waiving/injured LB Jordan Dewalt-Ondijo (ankle).
*With the Ravens set to arrive tomorrow and the temperature reaching toward 95 degrees, Kelly cut practice short by about 45 minutes.