Doug Pederson told reporters on Monday afternoon that Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who struggled mightily in the first game of his career on Sunday, will get the nod at right tackle this weekend when the Eagles face the Vikings.
“[Vaitai] gives us the best opportunity to win right now,” Pederson said Monday. “He is our backup right tackle right now, therefore he’s going to play and he’s going to gain valuable experience, week in and week out.”
Pederson was demonstrative in his defending of Vaitai’s performance. He admitted there were plenty of mistakes made by the rookie, but he refused to place the blame for the five sacks of Carson Wentz — including one on the first play of the game, and many of which were Vaitai’s responsibility — on the shoulders of the rookie.
“You look at it from a certain perspective, and then you get a chance to come in and watch it again and you get a different perspective,” Pederson said. “Felt like he - slow start, but really settled in nicely throughout the game.
“Was it perfect? Was it pretty? No. Were there assignment errors? Yes. I’m not going to stand here and point the finger at Big V, because that’s not what happened. There’s enough mistakes all around in this football game that cost us this game, but I thought as the game progressed, he settled in nicely and did some good things.”
Pederson was asked if he thinks he can afford to send Vaitai out there at right tackle again, when the Vikings boast one of the most talented defenses in the league and the Eagles’ primary interest is protecting Wentz, the face of the franchise.
The head coach countered by asserting there’s always a risk because football, inherently, is a risky game.
“There’s a risk every time they take the field,” Pederson said. “Plain and simple, every time they take the field there’s a risk. Regardless of whether it be a rookie or a veteran out there playing, I can’t get caught up in that. I’m not going to necessarily worry about it as much as my focus is to get V ready to go. He’ll be a lot better this week. He’s now got a full game under his belt, and that’s valuable experience he can learn from going into this week.”
Pederson updated reporters on a slew of injuries the Eagles suffered on Sunday. They’re listed here, in descending order of significance.
DT Bennie Logan - Groin strain
Pederson called Logan’s injury, which forced the defensive lineman to leave the game and head to the locker room on Sunday, a “week to week” thing. Logan won’t practice on Wednesday, and from the way Pederson discussed the injury, I would bet right now that Logan is more likely to miss this weekend’s game against Minnesota than he is to play in it.
CB Ron Brooks - Left calf contusion
Pederson called this injury “significant.” Brooks is day to day, according to Pederson, and he will miss Wednesday’s practice.
LB Mychal Kendricks - Rib contusion
Kendricks, whose production has waned in the past few weeks, one tackle for a loss excluded, will miss Wednesday’s practice, per Pederson.
DE Marcus Smith - Groin strain
Smith, who generated pressure on Kirk Cousins’ interception on Sunday, will miss Wednesday’s practice with a strained groin, per Pederson.
C Jason Kelce - Plantar fasciitis
Pederson said Kelce will miss Wednesday’s practice, which means Stefen Wisniewski will take first-team snaps at center in practice. But Pederson said he’s not concerned about Kelce possibly missing Sunday’s game.