Kiko Alonso has found himself feeling like he's back in college. He’s wearing green, he’s playing for his former college coach and most importantly, he’s healthy.
“I feel good, I feel great,” Alonso said when asked about his status after the last day of minicamp Thursday.
Much of the concern for ACL injuries has been focused on Sam Bradford this offseason. However, hidden in the spotlight, is the fact that Alonso is coming off of the same injury. It's an injury that sidelined the 24-year-old for the entire 2014 season.
That injury didn’t bother Chip Kelly.
And so the humble, soft-spoken, third-year pro is coming into his first season wearing an Eagles uniform after he was traded in March from Buffalo for Lesean McCoy. He has been having a pretty impressive spring, looking mobile and athletic, just as he did in his rookie season that consisted 159 tackles, four interceptions and two sacks in 2013 for the Bills.
Most players are forced to adapt to a new system, which can limit a player's chance to be a starter. Luckily for Alonso there isn’t much of a learning curve as he played under Chip Kelly back in his Oregon days.
“It’s nice not to have to learn a new playbook,” Alonso said. “Now I can just keep getting reps and keep learning.”
It’s hard to argue that Alonso isn’t coming in to start week one against the Falcons. There has been ongoing speculation since March that Mychal Kendricks will be traded and veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans, who is coming off of a torn Achilles injury, furthers the idea of Alonso patrolling one of the two inside linebacker positions.
The linebacker is another piece to the defensive puzzle, a defense that has vastly improved from last year and a defense Alonso looked forward to play in since coming to Philly.
“Just looking on paper I saw we have a lot of great players,” Alonso said, “just going out there and competing with these guys is going to make all of us better.”