Even after a so-so effort against Jacksonville in the third preseason game, Chip Kelly won’t play his starting offense in the preseason finale.
Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, Jason Peters and the rest of the first-team offense will be on the sideline Thursday against the Jets at MetLife Stadium as the Eagles finish up their first preseason under Kelly.
Nick Foles and Matt Barkley will see the majority of reps at quarterback.
“Nick’s going to start and then Nick and Matt will get the predominant amount of snaps,” Kelly said. “I’ll try to get Dennis [Dixon] and G.J. [Kinne] in there but Nick and Matt will get the predominant amount of snaps.
On defense, Kelly said most of the first-teamers will sit except in the secondary, where injuries have affected depth at corner (see story) and where jobs are still up for grabs at safety. Patrick Chung probably won’t play against the Jets, but Nate Allen and Earl Wolff will likely see action.
“We’ll get some work in, depending on [how] Billy [Davis] wants to rotate them in,” Kelly said.
Peters made his debut against Jacksonville after missing all of last season to rehab from two surgeries on the same torn Achilles, and the starting offensive line played 46 snaps together as starters went deep into the third quarter.
Although there were some protection breakdowns that led to Vick taking some hits and hurrying some passes, Kelly has seen enough. He’s looking further down the road with the decision to keep the O-line sidelined.
“You also have to think our first three games we’ve got to play on a Monday, and then a Sunday and then a Thursday,” said Kelly, whose team will play its first three games in an 11-day span. “There’s got to be that balancing act that you do. It’s a very, very long season. You’ve got four preseason games, you’ve got 16 regular season games and the playoffs.
“So there’s a part where you’re like, ‘Hey, I’d like to get those guys as many reps as we can,’ but you also have to understand the bigger picture here. So we weren’t tempted [to play the starters again].”
Kelly echoed his sentiment from Saturday night, that Peters made a strong first impression.
“I thought Jason, for his first action, actually played real well,” he added. “There were some technical things he’ll tell you; he’s probably his harshest critic. But it was very comforting knowing we have Number 71 in the lineup.”
As for his quarterback, Kelly didn’t seem overly concerned about some of the contact Vick absorbed against Jacksonville or Vick’s first display of some poor decision making. Vick completed 15 of 23 passes for 183 yards and threw a touchdown but also threw his first significant interception and was sacked twice. On his second sack, Vick tried to ditch the ball before hitting the ground, one of his more dangerous decisions in an otherwise outstanding preseason.
“There was just a couple [of bad decisions], but I think it was great coverage,” Kelly said. “A couple of those were seven-man protections and we didn’t have everybody out. They were three-man routes and Jacksonville wasn’t blitzing, but those guys were now in prevent coverage. Part of being a great quarterback is making great decisions. If people are in coverage, I would rather our quarterback hold onto the ball then release the ball.”
Some other notables from Kelly’s morning press conference:
* Cedric Thornton, Fletcher Cox and Isaac Sopoaga won’t play against the Jets. Kelly said he’s fairly certain they will open the season as the starting defensive line.
* DeSean Jackson hasn’t returned any punts in preseason action but Kelly said Jackson will see some return action this season at times.
* As for Todd Herremans, who missed some practice last week with right knee inflammation, Kelly said his right guard is still “getting back to where he needs to be.”
* Along with safety, Kelly said the toughest positions to decide for the final roster is tight end. He also mentioned the offensive and defensive lines as areas where difficult decisions must be made.