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Chip Kelly: Alejandro Villanueva an intriguing prospect


First Lt. Alejandro Villanueva has spent the last several months juggling his time between offseason work with the Philadelphia Eagles and his U.S. Army Ranger duties.

The 6-foot-9, 277-pound Villanueva has a lot on his plate learning a new position -- defensive end -- with the Eagles, but has impressed coach Chip Kelly with his work ethic.

"I've been kind of partially amazed that he could do what he's done," Kelly said recently, per "... There was one day here, you can check with him, I think he went from here to an Army training session and went out and had a couple PT tests that he had to pass and actually one of them was a five-mile test. He nailed it and came back and didn't miss a day.

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"He's been just a guy that you see every day just getting a little bit better, getting a little bit better. As I said the other day, a real intriguing prospect but just amazed at everything that Alejandro does to be honest with you."

The Eagles signed Villanueva in May after he spent the last four years in active military duty. He last played organized football in 2009 at the U.S. Military Academy.

Villanueva's size and versatility -- he played offensive guard and tight end at Army -- offer compelling options for the outside-the-box thinking Kelly.

The 25-year-old, however, has a steep climb to make the Eagles' roster, battling Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry, Brandon Bair, Joe Kruger, Taylor Hart and Frances Mays at the defensive end position.

"For me, it's all uphill and that's the way I have to look -- is just up," Villanueva said last week. "So hopefully this work that I've put in during this offseason will pay dividends in training camp."

In the latest episode of the "Around The League Podcast," the guys discuss Rob Gronkowski's expected return to action and Cordarrelle Patterson's potential rise this season.


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