Kelowna’s Danny Watkins is more anxious than most for the Chip Kelly era to begin in Philadelphia.
Watkins is a former firefighter turned offensive lineman who the Eagles drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He had a rough beginning to his NFL career, reportedly due to a challenging relationship with his former coaches, particularly with former offensive line coach Howard Mudd.
Comcast Sportsnet CSNPhilly.com Eagles insider Geoff Mosher reports that Watkins’ feelings about the old regime can be gleaned from the way he speaks about his new coaches, specifically offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
Watkins called Stoutland, a “people person” with an entirely different approach to mentoring than his predecessor’s style.
“I think that goes a long way when you’re really passionate about who you want to play for and who’s coaching you,” Watkins told Mosher. “I think we have a good relationship and I think that goes a long way.”
“I always meet with him on the side. During the minicamps I spent a lot of time with him one-on-one. I’d come right off the field and go into his office. He was very receptive with spending extra time with me and very patient, explaining things through. It’s what you look for in a coach.”
Watkins started in Week five of his rookie year, but was removed from the starting lineup halfway through the 2012 season. The 6’4, 312-pound offensive lineman worked as a firefighter in his native Kelowna, BC, before enrolling at Butte College in northern California in 2007. Four years later, he became just the sixth Canadian taken in the first two rounds of the NFL draft.
“I’ll say this. Danny Watkins has worked his butt off. Worked his butt off this spring. He’s put a lot of time into it on his own, other than being out here and what they’re required to do,” Stoutland recently told Philly.com’s Jimmy Kempski. “He’s done a lot of stuff on his own to help him understand this new offense, to understand what I’m teaching, so I give him a lot of credit for that. That’s all good. Now you gotta produce. You gotta go play.”
Mosher suggests that in Year 3, the season in which most first-round picks reach their stride, Watkins is building himself up from ground zero.
“From a technique standpoint, Coach Stout is more of a traditional offensive line coach, I guess you could say,” Watkins told Mosher. “And I had always struggled in the first couple of years with Howard’s technique. So I’m not really looking at it as a Year 3 thing. I’m looking at it as, this is starting from scratch and I’m going to take the experience that I’ve got from the first couple of years and try to carry that over and transition that over onto the playing field.”
Mosher’s full report can be found here:
Watkins speaks in more detail about “starting fresh” in an interview with Philadelphia’s WFMZ-TV News: http://www.wfmz.com/sports/eagles-camp-watkins-fighting-to-regain-starting-spot/-/121402/21196858/-/hmvwffz/-/index.html