The Eagles finally had some time this week to get some rest and recover from the short week. As the team gets ready to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media about some injury updates, and also what they’re looking to do schematically against one of the best linebackers in the NFL.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Carolina prep
Pederson was asked about how they prepare for a defender like Panthers’ linebacker, Luke Kuechly. The head coach talked about how Kuechly is a really smart guy, and he’s going to study the Eagles offense and be prepared to attack.
He went on to say that Kuechly can often sniff out little intricacies that most wouldn’t be aware of, and he’ll know every call that Jason Kelce makes during the game, he’ll make adjustments on the sideline again like he did last year. Just overall, he’ll be ready for whatever Philadelphia brings on Sunday.
Pederson also said Kuechly is a high energy guy who flies around the field, he’s a great tackler in space, and is a great player and very disruptive. He lamented that they just have to always be aware of where he is on the field, and do their best to isolate him as much as they can.
The head coach was then asked about having to prepare for a versatile offensive player like running back Christian McCaffrey. Pederson called McCaffrey an explosive player pound for pound, and continued to laud the back’s routes and noting he’s a misdirection guy.
Pederson said that McCaffrey was everything they had expected him to be during the draft process, and he’s a guy that doesn’t have to come off the field. The running back is someone they definitely have to account for on Sunday, and they have to tackle him to prevent him from stretching the field.
On coin toss strategy
Pederson was asked about winning the coin toss and his choice to defer, and where he picked up that strategy. The head coach mentioned that it’s about the number of touches the offense can get. He used last week’s game as an example, where they were able to kick a field goal right before half, and then come out and get the ball again to score.
He emphasized that if you can get the offense another touch or two before the half, that’s what they want to do.
On Injuries and Personnel Decisions
- Jalen Mills was out of practice on Thursday with a hamstring injury, but Pederson noted that isn’t longterm and that he’d be back on the field Friday. Nothing to worry about.
- Regarding the move to promote Bruce Hector from the practice squad — and waive Kamar Aiken — Pederson said they just wanted to add some depth to the tackle position. He noted that DT Haloti Ngata is progressing well, but is still day-to-day.
- Pederson also expressed confidence in Hector, and admitted he’ll be asked to take on a little bit more this week, but that he has the skillset to be No. 2 on the depth chart.
- The head coach also mentioned that he expects to see both Jason Peters and Lane Johnson on Sunday, and that they’re “resting well”.
- On IR receivers Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace, Pederson noted they are both doing well, but they aren’t at the point to consider if or when they’ll be able to return.
- Pederson also said that they are optimistic about Darren Sproles returning to practice next week, but the head coach doesn’t want to push the veteran before he’s ready.
- Rasul Douglas is back, Pederson noted he was out with a personal issue, but that he’s back for practice on Friday.
On weekly prep
Pederson was asked if he is aware and plans for the referee groups each week, and he admitted he discusses things with players about referees tendencies for certain calls. He went on to say that knowing who the crew is, is important, and it’s good to give the players some insights into those things.
He was asked if he thought that made a difference, but Pederson was quick to answer, “No, I don’t think so.” He continued to say, that if anything, it brings a little awareness to things, but other than that it just gives the players a bit more knowledge about the situation.
On Jordan Hicks
Pederson noted that he thinks the linebacker is back to his former self after almost a year since the injury that landed him on IR to finish out the 2017 season. He went on to say that one of Hicks’ strengths was getting the rest of the defense lined up and getting the call out, and that it’s good to have him back.