Minicamp Notebook: Cox Plans to be at Training Camp
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Both defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and running back Darren Sproles met with the media Wednesday, but didn’t offer a lot of context when it came to explaining their absences from the voluntary portion of the Eagles’ offseason program.
Cox's tact was expected considering the statement he released on Tuesday but the big defensive tackle did confirm his plans to be at the start of training camp on July 28, presumably with a new long-term extension if he has his way.
Sproles, meanwhile, claimed his absence from the voluntary stuff had to do with a family issue and was not at all contract related.
"“I don’t know where all them rumors came from,” the running back said. “People just writing things, I guess."
Sproles also said he's been in regular contact with running backs coach Duce Staley and understands the offense and is excited about the role he is going to have in it.
Cox is set to enter the final year of his rookie deal and stands to make $7.8 million this year is nothing gets adjusted. An extension, however, could net the burgeoning superstar as much as $50M to $60M guaranteed.
“I’m here today,” Cox said when asked why he returned for the mandatory work. “I’m happy to be here. I’m happy to be with my teammates. Happy to be with my coaches. I think what matters is diving into the playbook.”
The Eagles have held Cox out of the team drills and that's likely to continue for the entire camp, something coach Doug Pederson called smart.
"Now is not the time to push things and possibly risk an injury," Pederson said. "I'm not concerned with Fletcher Cox. He can play the game of football. He's a sharp guy and it's not gonna take much or long to get caught up."
That said, Sproles was thrown right into the fire with a lot of first-team reps and also work as a return man on special teams.
"Darren's a bit of a different animal," Pederson said, perhaps alluding to his work behind the scenes with Staley.
"I made the decision, I just wanted to see him," Pederson said of Sproles. "I spoke with Duce Staley and said 'Duce, if we can find a spot to give him the opportunity where he is not necessarily in traffic, let's see what he can do.' So it was my decision but it was not a depth chart issue or anything like that."
-Practice was moved indoors due to the strong storms in the area.
-Josh Huff was sent home with an illness.
-Undrafted rookie free agent defensive tackle Connor Wujciak had a cast on his right arm but did not specify what the injury was. Wujciak, a Boston College product, has been taking third-team snaps throughout voluntary work and the minicamp.
-Pederson agreed with the assessment that some of Carson Wentz's passes wobble but said it was not a concern and is a product of thinking a little too much, along with mechanics.
-Chip Kelly did not believe in tackling during practice but Hitting will be back in training camp, according to Pederson, who confirmed he will have at least a few live periods.
"How often and how [ever] many times [we can] hit," Pederson answered when asked about his philosophy concerning contact. "I fully believe that you've got to practice in pads quite a bit, and I feel like it's important from a timing aspect in your run game. It's just so important, not only offensively, but defensively, as well, for linebackers and safeties and guys that need to be around the line of scrimmage and make plays. [It’s important for] run lanes and blitzes and all of that needs to be done in pads.
"I'm a big believer in putting the pads on and banging a little bit. And the way training camp is structured, we'll test them for about three or four days, kind of go hard, and then we'll back off a little bit, take the pads off, let them recover, put them back on, let them recover again and just kind of ramp up to the regular season that way."
-Cody Parkey and Caleb Sturgis held a bit of a kicking competition inside the bubble and came up even for the most part. Both connected from 53 yards out but each was wide left from 56.
-Cornerback Nolan Carroll returned to team drills for the first time this spring.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen