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Veteran Eagles arrive for camp, eager to start Kelly era

The Canadian Press

7/25/2013 6:16:39 PM

PHILADELPHIA -- Todd Herremans showed up with a braided Mohawk haircut. Jeremy Maclin wore a T-shirt that read: "I'm that Dude." DeSean Jackson, fittingly, looked like a rap star.

It's a new era in Philadelphia. Time to kickoff Camp Chip Kelly.

All 90 Eagles reported well before the deadline for arrival Thursday, and they were ready to go and eager to start fresh after last year's miserable 4-12 finish under Andy Reid.

"I've been excited every day I've been here," Kelly said. "I think our guys, I'm trying to get that mindset for all of them. It's not, 'Let's get excited because it's the first day of camp,' and the third day of camp you're bored. You have to be excited to be out here with an opportunity to work with a bunch of guys. We have an outstanding staff, and the players have been outstanding in terms of their reception and them wanting to get better.

"I was excited when I got here on the 16th of January, and it's the same today. Just because we get a chance to get back out on the field, I don't think it changes that."

Kelly holds his first full squad practice Friday, and the pads come on Sunday when the team moves over to Lincoln Financial Field and opens the doors to fans. More than 60,000 tickets already have been distributed for the practice. There's quite a buzz circulating in the city and throughout camp, which is being held at the team's practice facility in Philadelphia after 17 years at Lehigh University.

"It's like being home," tight end Brent Celek said. "And, you sleep better."

Kelly replaced Reid, who was fired after 14 mostly successful seasons in which he led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five conference championship games and one Super Bowl loss.

The team lured Kelly away from Oregon, where he led the Ducks to a 46-7 record in four seasons and turned the program into a national powerhouse. Kelly is known for his innovative, high-octane offence, so it's no surprise that he'll be in control on game days.

Offensive co-ordinator Pat Shurmur, the former Cleveland Browns coach, already said Kelly will be calling the plays. Everyone is interested to see how Kelly's system translates in the NFL.

"It's one of the principles that makes the offence successful," Shurmur said. "I think as time has gone on, you've seen that increase-paced, high-tempo type offence work its way into the NFL. It's a lot of what we do and I think it's very important."

The biggest question, of course, is which quarterback will be operating the offence. Michael Vick, Nick Foles and rookie Matt Barkley are competing for the starting job, and each has expressed confidence in his ability to be the No. 1 guy.

Jackson and Maclin, the two starting wide receivers, faced questions about camp's most intriguing battle.

"Competition level is great," Jackson said. "I think we got four great quarterbacks that can all contribute to helping us win. At the end of the day, I say Vick's been here, he's going on 11 or 12 years and I just think he's accomplished some great things. But Nick's a great player, nothing to take away from him, never said anything bad about him."

Maclin didn't have an opinion on the QB competition.

"You can't get caught up in that," he said. "That's a job that's going to come from the coaches. That's a decision that will come from the coaches. All we can do, as receivers, whoever's out there throwing the ball, be accountable and go out there and make plays for them."

Jackson had a busy off-season. He recently released a rap single and video called "Diamonds On My Neck," featuring Snoop Dogg.

"That's my other style," Jackson said of his hip-hop career. "That's something I like doing. I'm definitely a young kid, born and raised where I came from. So that's what's in me. Not to say I don't have a great time and fun having my Snoop in my videos and things like that. I'm really able to understand the business.

"It's definitely not an easy business to be in, just like football."