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DeMeco Ryans, Eagles inside linebackers miss practice

PHILADELPHIA – For most of the offseason, one of the frequent questions for Chip Kelly was how he would use three inside linebackers for two positions.

Kelly always said the Philadelphia Eagles had injuries at that position last year and could have used the depth. And now, as the team prepares for its first preseason game, Kelly’s point is well taken.

None of those three inside linebackers -- DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso -- practiced Thursday. All three have been held out of recent practices for a variety of reasons.

Ryans, who tore his Achilles tendon midway through the 2014 season, has been off the past two days. Before that, Ryans had been on the field every day. It appears the Eagles are simply giving the 31-year-old linebacker a break before the games begin.

Kendricks, 24, also missed time last year with an injury. In Kendricks’ case, it was a calf injury that cost him four games. He played the last eight games, however, and says he is healthy now. The other day, Kendricks said something about a secret sports science-related issue. He did not practice Thursday.

“Mychal’s fine,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said, “other than little nitpicking things.”

Alonso received a concussion during last week’s practice at Lincoln Financial Field. Kelly said that, as of Tuesday, Alonso had not completed the NFL protocol to clear concussed players. He has not practiced in nine days.

“He is fine,” Davis said. “I’ve got no worries about Kiko. He’ll be all right. Just being cautious, that’s all.”

Alonso hasn’t been on the field at all since last week. Ryans and Kendricks were on the field Thursday, watching the drills.

Emmanuel Acho, Najee Goode and third-round pick Jordan Hicks have been practicing inside.

It isn’t clear who will be playing inside linebacker when the preseason opens Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

“Whoever’s left,” Davis said, laughing. “If Mychal plays, great. But even if the starters are playing, it’s usually a limited role. The preseason is awesome from my standpoint. The young guys, they get all this playing time. We get all this evaluation time. It will be a good experience for them.”

Especially Hicks, who will be making his first appearance in an NFL uniform.

“He’s a three-down linebacker,” Davis said. “And he’s got a very good football IQ and instincts. I’m excited to see him against the Colts, with the lights on, to see how he plays. He’s a really good athlete.”