On Fridays before game days, Doug Pederson tells reporters which players will be out of the upcoming weekend’s game because of injuries. What he doesn’t disclose is which healthy players will be active or inactive.
After Nelson Agholor was a healthy inactive in the Eagles’ loss to the Packers on Monday Night Football, plenty of coverage has been devoted to whether Agholor will be active this week. What could’ve changed in the past week to convince Pederson that the second-year wideout is ready to come back? It’s an interesting question.
On Friday, Pederson said he things look good for Agholor in terms of being active on Sunday against the Bengals. One factor is Jordan Matthews’ ankle, which is bothering him.
“I plan on keeping [Agholor] in the mix, because of Jordan’s situation,” Pederson said. “We’re going to keep him live. He’s had a good week of practice, obviously yesterday and on Wednesday, so definitely keeping him alive for this week.”
The other, Pederson explained, is the way he’s seen Agholor work over the past week of practice.
“There’s a good chance [he’ll be active],” Pederson said. “Again, I have to find out how Jordan does today. But on Nelson, his mind’s been great, his attitude’s been really good, he’s been working hard, so right now, nothing says not keeping him up and keeping him out. Everything’s leaning towards keeping him active.”
Inquirer reporter Jeff McLane was a little confused by why Pederson wouldn’t commit to Agholor being active with just two days to go before the game. Surely Pederson could be able to draw his conclusions about Agholor’s mental state, and preparedness for the game, by now, right? Or is Pederson saying that Agholor is currently the fifth wide receiver on the team’s depth chart, behind guys like Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner?
Pederson still won't commit to having Nelson Agholor active. Said he's better though. My question was what could still be holding back?— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 2, 2016
So McLane asked Pederson what was holding Agholor back from being active. Pederson framed his answer, and the impending decision, as more dependent on Matthews, and other possible variables, rather than indicative of Agholor’s progress.
“I’ve still got two days,” Pederson said. “I’ve kind of been a believer of, I don’t want to rush into anything. I don’t want to ... because when you put that de-activate list in, and guys are down, it’s hard. It’s set in stone. So if I can wait until the last second, I’m going to wait and see. Because having five guys right now working in the mix, if something were to happen today or tomorrow, an illness could happen, like with Brandon [Brooks] last weekend. It keeps five guys alive, so it’s hard to commit at this point.”
It’s an interesting way to explain the decision, and it makes enough sense. But it certainly makes you wonder about how the Eagles’ coaching staff views Agholor at this point. It seemed at first that his inactive status last weekend was more of a one-week respite. But is he now the team’s No. 5 WR? That would be quite a precipitous drop for a 2015 first-round pick.
Either way, Pederson said if Agholor’s in the game, he has 100 percent confidence in the wideout. And if he plays, they might look to get him the ball early.
“There’s always ways to do that, obviously play call and play design to get him going in the game, could help,” Pederson said. “Get him the ball early, it might just be a screen. Get him the ball quick and let him get settled into the game. Those are all things I consider, especially putting together the openers, the first 15. Focusing in on guys, and he’s one of those guys.”
It will be very interesting to see what Pederson’s final decision is.