So with Mandatory Minicamp now out of the way, the Philadelphia Eagles now have time to prepare themselves for summer training, it’s also a great time for reflection. We spoke to Guard Julian Vandervelde about his thoughts on the upcoming season, what it takes to be a guard for the Eagles and his time in the NFL.
It’s our pleasure to welcome Philadelphia Eagles Guard Julian Vandervelde, how have you been recently Julian?
I’ve been excellent, thanks.
You were re signed by the Eagles following an injury problem earlier in 2014, how does it feel to be back at the Linc?
It’s always a great feeling to be able to play this game. God in His strength healed me well and the Eagles have given me another chance here for which I am very grateful.
You’re now going into your fifth season in the NFL, how have you changed both as a person and as a player since you were drafted by the Eagles in 2011?
It’s really night and day. Early on in my rookie season I felt like I was running through the woods with a blindfold on, bumping into trees and tripping over logs. Thankfully I had some really great mentors and veteran players who helped me develop. Guys like Todd Herremans, Mike Patterson, Jamal Jackson and others helped me adjust quickly to the speed of the game at this level. Now at this point in my career I’m really trying to do the same thing for the younger guys. My game still has plenty of room to improve but it’s really nice to be able to take time away from my own game from time to time and help the rookies and younger players go through those same adjustments I went through.
How have your experiences in the past few years benefitted you coming into this offseason?
Everyone reaches a point in their professional life where they feel like they’ve mastered their craft. For me, the adversities I’ve gone through the last few years have put me in a position where, between the coaching staff changes and my injuries, I’ve really had to examine my own game. I have a better understanding now than I did in my 2nd year of the level of play and work habits I need to develop and maintain in order to continue to advance my game and help my team.
What’s your personal highlight from your time so far in Philly?
Well I haven’t had a ton of playing time. I think only 5 or 6 plays in regular season games, though 2 of those were touchdowns so you could say 1/3 of the time I’m on the field we score TDs. Every time I get the chance to step on the field I feel like I’m achieving my dreams. Every day as an Eagle is a highlight.
In the four seasons you’ve spent with the team, a lot has changed in the city of brotherly love, most notably the managerial change from Andy Reid to Chip Kelly. It’s evident from watching the games just how different the two systems are, but how much more demanding is the new system?
It’s very demanding, but it’s also a lot of fun. The fun is the important part from my perspective.
The Eagles have been the subject to a lot of attention this off-season and with OTA’s now in full flow, what’s the vibe like down at the NovaCare?
The focus of this administration is on the culture, so the vibe is always positive. It’s easy when you have a great group of guys that are focused on one goal.
How important is team chemistry in a scheme like this?
Very important, but you could really say that about any scheme. I don’t think any team can be great or any scheme successful if the chemistry between players isn’t there.
Just run us through what a traditional day of training would involve with the Philadelphia Eagles. (It’s worth a try right?)
I’m afraid that’s classified.
How does the situation you’re in this season differ from this time last year? Have there been any notable changes in the training programs?
It’s mostly health related for me. It takes a lot longer than they tell you it will to fully recover from back surgery. This year I really feel healthy enough to push myself back into prime form.
What does it take to be a guard for the Philadelphia Eagles?
Everything you have, and a lot of stuff you didn’t know was inside you. It also helps to be large and have great footwork, knee band, hand placement and football intelligence, but that’s kind of a given.
What do you think is a realistic goal for the Eagles this season, can they go all the way like a certain Cornerback predicted?
I’m an optimist in every sense of the word, so I’ll let you imagine how far I think we can go.
If you could sum up your aspirations for the season in 5 words what would they be?
Win the fu*king Super Bowl.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and best of luck in the upcoming season!