McMullen: Sam Bradford Needs to Play in Green Bay
PHILADELPHIA - Will he or won't he?
The NFL's preseason remains a fluid concept from a coach's perspective and the old rules don't apply at least in some cities.
In the past the exhibition schedule was pretty clear, you're starters get 10-to-12 reps in Week 1, build up a little bit in Game No. 2 before getting work into the third quarter in the so-called dress rehearsal game. The final contest was for the backups and guys fighting for the spots on the back end of the roster.
The most important preseason encounter, that dress rehearsal game, is on the horizon this weekend for the Eagles in Green Bay, but it remains unclear if Sam Bradford will play, an almost inconceivable notion.
"We are meeting this afternoon and we will finalize (our plan for playing time) after our training session of Friday," a sarcastic Kelly kept repeating Thursday, refusing to confirm Bradford would indeed play.
The oft-injured Bradford, of course, needs repetitions. He didn't play against Indianapolis and had a 14-play cameo against the Ravens.
"I plan to play. I want to play," Bradford countered after the team's one-hour walk through. "Obviously it's up to the head coach."
If Kelly's prior history is any indication, a somewhat lengthier stint is in line for Bradford in Titletown. Two years ago Michael Vick was in for 46 plays in the third preseason game, while Nick Foles edged that a little bit last season, toiling in 48.
Kelly claimed that the weather in Green Bay on Saturday night, which could dip into the 50s with rain earlier in the day, could change his thinking, although the coach believes Bradford is healthy coming off his consecutive ACL injuries.
"I think Bradford is beyond the cautious phase," he stated. "Now it's a matter of getting him the work he needs."
If that all sounds like a contradiction to you, give yourself a gold star.
Bradford chuckled when he heard about the weather excuse.
"I'd like it to be warmer," the QB deadpanned before explaining the elements are not an issue for him.
Bradford needs the work especially because of the nature of this offense and how many plays he will be expected to run come Sept. 14.
Consider it like stretching out a pitcher. You don't ask a hurler to throw an inning one week and expect him to go nine in his next start.
Asked what he's looking for from Bradford, Kelly was concise.
"Daily progress. He is better today than he was on August 1. "He's a very coachable guy. He's not making the same mistakes as earlier in camp. We continue to see growth.
(Listen to John McMullen Discuss Sam Bradford and Thursday at the Nova Care Center)
*With the first round of roster cuts looming after this game Kelly said the decisions are "definitely" going to be tougher than the previous two seasons. "We have more depth," the coach said. "I will believe we will cut players that will be on other rosters. The (moves) will be more difficult than the past two years."
*One of those decisions came early as the Eagles waived/injured inside linebacker Emmanuel Acho after his recent thumb surgery. If Acho clears waivers he will revert to injured reserve unless the team reaches an injury settlement with him.
Acho played 20 games for the Eagles the last two seasons and made two starts last year but faced a sticky numbers game at ILB. Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans and third-round pick Jordan Hicks were ahead of Acho on the depth chart as was special teams standout Najee Goode. Brad Jones can also play inside although he is spending most of his time at OLB due to the injuries to Travis Long and Marcus Smith.
*The NFL sends out an officiating video to coaches and media every week as a teaching tool and Kelly confirmed Dean Blandino, the NFL's VP of Officiating, will be addressing Terrell Suggs' hit of Sam Bradford in this week's edition.
*Wide receiver Josh Huff was back for today's walk-through after missing the previous two days for personal reasons. Someone close to the second-year receiver passed and it was clear that Huff is not back mentally so don't expect to him in Green Bay."
"I'm just trying to get better day by day," Huff told 973espn.com while admitting he wasn't focused today. "It's difficult. I think the coaches understand."
*Bradford has dumped the knee brace and Kelly clarified why: "From our understanding the brace does not help with ACLs. It helps with an MCL injury but it doesn't really do anything for rotational injuries."
*Kelly also explained the decision to extend Mychal Kendricks. "Because he is a really good football player and we like him a lot," he said. "We want to build our future around guys like him."
Kelly also claimed Kendricks fits the parameters of what the Eagles want from the ILB position despite the perceived notion that the organization felt he was too short. "It's about weight for us at ILB," Kelly claimed. "We look for anyone from 5-foot-11 to 6-4."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen.