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Doug Pederson explains why the Eagles signed Corey Graham

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Cornerback, safety, or both?

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-Training Camp Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

When the Eagles first signed veteran defensive back Corey Graham earlier this week, it was unclear what position he’ll play in Philadelphia: safety or cornerback. So what’s the answer?

“Play corner and safety,” joked Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

“No, you know what? It gives us depth, obviously, at the position. [He’s a] great character guy, good competition, veteran player. Like always, it gives us depth at the position. So we'll see where he's at health-wise and get him out here and get him going.”

Further pressed to clarify Graham’s position, Pederson indicated the veteran will resume the role he most recently played with the Buffalo Bills.

“Probably start him [out] at safety,” said Pederson.

The Eagles’ decision to sign an extra safety at this point in this offseason seems curious. Philadelphia already has two really good starters in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Terrence Brooks, meanwhile, has really stood out during offseason practices. He looks like he belongs as third safety. Chris Maragos is the Eagles’ special teams captain so that’s four safeties right there. Jaylen Watkins could be in the mix for a fifth spot, but the Graham signing might not bode well for his chances.

It doesn’t hurt for the Eagles to add some extra depth to the safety position. It’s just obvious that the team needs way more help at cornerback and that’s a position Graham played under Jim Schwartz in 2014. In fact, Graham had his best NFL season that year.

The problem is the Eagles don’t know if they can rely on Graham at cornerback. There are concerns about the veteran’s speed now that he’s 32 years old.

“We've got to see,” said Pederson when asked if Graham can play corner. “It's been three years since he's played, so we've got to see that when he gets here.”

Graham may very well not be a viable option at cornerback. Given the Eagles’ glaring weaknesses at that position, however, they should at least give it a shot in practice/preseason when there’s nothing on the line. If Graham plays well at corner, that’s great. If not, they’ll have a nice backup safety who can also potentially contribute on special teams.

Check out Doug Pederson’s entire press conference from Friday (click here or watch below).

EAGLES HC Doug Pederson talking now!

Posted by Bleeding Green Nation: For Philadelphia Eagles Fans on Friday, August 4, 2017

Complete transcript of Pederson’s interview below.

Q. What's the plan for WR Alshon Jeffery against the Packers, as of now?

DOUG PEDERSON: As of now, I can't tell you because I haven't set the rosters yet.

Q. His injury, obviously he is day to day, but he hasn't practiced since maybe Sunday?

DOUG PEDERSON: That's all right. That's all right. I mean, listen, I gave him a day today. He's got a day off tomorrow, and the more I can just give him rest -- that's the same thing I did with [DE] Chris [Long] today, Chris Long. Just a vet day and time to rest up. We're not playing games for a while, games that matter anyway, and we’re getting ready for Washington.

Q. Did Alshon miss practice because of a rest day or because of the injury?

DOUG PEDERSON: Initially, it was a strain. And then just giving him extra rest on the shoulder.

Q. Is that shoulder injury any more significant than you thought it was a few days ago?


Q. All your receivers, like from Nelson Agholor to Marcus Johnson, and even guys like Bryce Treggs down the line, they seem like they're playing better this year than they did last year. Would it make sense to attribute that to the coaching from Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I would say so. Mike is a great teacher, obviously, and I think, too, the other thing on that is they're in the system for the second year. By the time we get to training camp, our players have repped these plays numerous and countless times. The information is very familiar to those guys. When I can rest a guy like Alshon or [WR] Torrey [Smith] for a day, these younger guys get a lot more reps, and it just helps.

Q. With all the mechanics and different things that QB Carson Wentz worked on in the off-season from last year to now, do you see him out here like it's second nature to him? Or do you still think this is a time where he's trying to trust that? Where do you think he is in the process?

DOUG PEDERSON: Well, you definitely see the carryover from the off-season. Things he's worked on, he's brought it over into practice. I think any professional at any position is constantly working their skill. That's the only way you get better. He's doing that every single day.

We keep – [Eagles offensive coordinator] Frank [Reich] and [Eagles quarterbacks coach John] DeFilippo stay on him about his mechanics and keep working his feet and all the quarterbacks. We want it to be second nature, and right now, he's very comfortable with the pocket and with the drop. And again, just understanding the scheme of what we're doing really helps his drop, in general, and where to go with the ball.

Q. You know from playing the game that it would be easy in a pinch to go back to what you've known your whole life just because that's …

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, human nature says you always go back to what you know. But the thing with Carson is he can forget about that and he can press on with the new teaching and the information that he's been given. And that's the growth, those incremental growth with that quarterback position, with Carson, and he's done a great job.

Q. You've had T Dillon Gordon at fullback since the spring. Do you feel comfortable with him moving forward at that spot?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, it's something we're going to continue to develop, continue to work. By no means is one day enough reps for him at that position. We're going to continue to grow that spot, hopefully with him, and get him more opportunities.

Q. Does his versatility enable him to be one of the guys that will be active on game days?

DOUG PEDERSON: It's hard. That's so far away. Right now, we just want to make sure he understands his assignment and get him going in the right direction.

Q. Getting back to the quarterbacks, are you happy with how quickly they get the ball out? The internal clock for all the guys, today, seemed like it was a little bit longer. Are you happy with where they are at?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, and today we worked some two-minute. We obviously worked a little red zone and two-point plays, offensively. Defensively, it was a 3rd-and-long situation, so they're naturally going to have to hold the ball a little bit longer as we service our defense. But, overall, the way the ball is coming out of their hand, I like that. I like it coming out. They understand the rush, the timing of the throw, and any time -- listen, any time we can check it down to a back or a tight end is positive.

Q. Just for clarity on Alshon Jeffery, are the injuries behind him?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, and it's just a matter of keeping him rested. And again, it's -- we're not playing a game. So I've seen a lot from him, probably more so than what you guys have seen, and I'm comfortable with where he's at with our offense. I'm going to make sure he's healthy going into the season.

Q. Have you decided if he'll play in the first preseason game yet?

DOUG PEDERSON: I haven't decided that yet.

Q. What's LB Mychal Kendricks' status as far as the quad injury?

DOUG PEDERSON: That's a day-to-day. I talked to him today, and he feels really good.

Q. You had a couple new punt returners today at the end of practice?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, yeah, it was really good to see their athleticism. Maybe if we get in a pinch, we stick them back there.

Q. Was that to end the day early today for them?

DOUG PEDERSON: No, from time to time I just like to keep it fresh. And me and the guys, we got a little thing going, so there's a little competition. And they'll be rewarded later on today.

Q. What was on the line with K Caleb Sturgis trying a 50 some-yard field goal?

DOUG PEDERSON: What was on the line? Again, it's between the team and I. We worked out a couple of things. And I think this is -- the guys has been working extremely hard, and I want to make sure that they're rewarded for that.

Q. That would have been the end of practice if he had made that, right?

DOUG PEDERSON: No. We were going to finish practice.

Q. How is QB Nick Foles progressing?

DOUG PEDERSON: Good, good. Again, day-to-day. This rest is helping him, so we'll see where he's at through the next couple of days and try to get him back on the field.

Q. What was the carrot hanging out there on that long field goal from Sturgis? You pulled the team together and then you had him kick.

DOUG PEDERSON: That was between me and the guys. I mean, that's the beauty of being the head coach, I think, sometimes. You get to -- sometimes their voices can be heard, so we had a little friendly wager there, and they'll be rewarded later.

Q. After this off day, is practice going to be structured differently next week going into the game?

DOUG PEDERSON: No, no. We're going to stay -- the Linc practice on Sunday is going to be the same format we had the last time we were there. They'll be in full pads really the next couple days even after that. We're still installing plays offensively and defensively, so -- and as you guys know, you get into these first couple games and you're trying to get everybody reps and you're trying to evaluate your roster. We've got to continue to do that and make sure the guys are ready, especially our younger guys, going into these first couple games.

Q. Have you decided how long Wentz will play Thursday night?

DOUG PEDERSON: Haven't decided that. [Eagles offensive coordinator] Frank [Reich] and I will sit down with Flip [Eagles quarterback John DeFilippo] and try to get a rotation probably early next week.

Q. What is the feedback you are getting from WR Jordan Matthews in terms of how he's doing with his knee?

DOUG PEDERSON: He's doing good. Again, he's another one that I talk to on a daily basis. He feels good. He's been moving around good, and I think he's improving each day.