The Eagles know they have a challenging road game awaiting them on Sunday in New Orleans, but head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Friday morning to talk about what they expect personnel-wise, including who they expect to return from injury.
Pederson said that the guys have had a good week of practice, and have responded well to the — understandable — negative criticism directed their way. He said they absolutely see it and hear it, but they don’t really listen to it, and if anything use it as fuel moving forward.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
Injury updates and personnel moves
Pederson said they are still optimistic about Timmy Jernigan being ready to play on Sunday, but that they just need to keep a close eye on him Friday and Saturday and evaluate if he can be part of the game plan.
Sidney Jones is in a little bit of a better situation than Jernigan, but they still want to make sure that Jones gets a full week of ball leading up to the game, but he’s done a nice job so far this week.
It was also pointed out that if Jernigan is ready to play, he’ll need to be added to the 53-man roster, and if that’s the case, assumptions are that Ronald Darby would be placed on IR. Pederson agreed that if Timmy is ready to go they’ll need to make a move, but if he isn’t quite ready to go then they have some time to make those decisions.
The head coach also likened Richard Rodgers’ situation to Jernigan’s and noted that the tight end has done a good job this week, and they’ll see how he comes out of Friday’s practice.
Lane Johnson is a lot closer to being ready to go than he was last week, with Pederson pointing out that Johnson has had a good week of practice and feels a lot better health-wise, so they are expecting him to be able to play against the Saints.
On Saints prep
The head coach was asked how preparing to play in the Superdome differs from preparing for other road games. Pederson noted that it’s a loud and exciting place to play, and that it’s a fun environment.
He also pointed to those things as reasons to practice with the music cranked up, especially on offense, but the guys have handled the noise really well this week in practice.
Pederson later was asked about how they prepare for a potential shoot-out, like so many of the Saints games have been recently. He said from a fan perspective it’s exciting to watch, but from a coaching perspective you’re looking for the defense to make a stop.
He said mentally they have to play to score on every possession, but that they aren’t exactly expecting a shoot-out because there have been some somewhat closer games against the Saints this season too. So, they don’t really know what to expect, but have to prepare themselves for either possibility.
Pederson also agreed with his players who have called the game against the Saints a form of a measuring stick to see how good they actually are. He went on to say that it’s not just a measuring stick for players either, and that the coaches have to study and put up their best effort.
On Golden Tate and the offense
Pederson was asked if Golden Tate is starting to feel more comfortable in what they’re asking him to do and whether that will lead to more snaps and involvement on Sunday, and the head coach kept it short and sweet, answering “yes and yes”. (While also grinning from ear-to-ear.)
He also said that Tate doesn’t know the entire play book yet because they aren’t throwing everything at him, but heading into his third week with the team is better understanding the Eagles offense. Pederson also said that getting more practice reps and seeing those plays in repetition has helped Tate as well.
Pederson also said that if they end going tempo this week it wouldn’t affect Tate’s snap count quite as much as last week. He went on to say that they’ve had some time now to coach off of last week and work on it a bit in practice, which has helped Tate feel more comfortable with some of those formations and code words.
On Carson Wentz and coaching
Later on Pederson was asked how quarterback Carson Wentz accepts tough coaching, particularly at times when he maybe missed a through or made a bad read. The head coach noted that it’s all part of coaching, but that the QB handles those discussions well.
He also talked about after the Carolina game, at the end of the game, Wentz had a couple of opportunities to make some throws and was really disappointed in himself for not being able to get the ball out. Pederson explained that they were then able to correct that on tape, show him where his eyes need to be, and making those changes moving forward.
Pederson said that was a good example of Wentz taking the coaching, moving on from it, and responding the next week like he did. And so far, that’s been his experience throughout Wentz’s career.
On his expectations of Sidney Jones
Pederson was asked about the former draft pick and what his expectations were for a guy who they drafted high but has been hammered by injury. The head coach pointed to Jones’ unfortunate luck when it came to getting injured during his pro day and missing his first season, and then to get banged up and sidelined here and there.
He went on to say that he equates the situation to one he saw in Kansas City with Eric Fisher, and that these high draft picks have to get their bodies acclimated to working at an NFL level, and then end up missing time in training camp and during the season.
Pederson said Jones is in a similar situation, in that he’s a young guy whose body is still developing, but he’s an incredible athlete and is going to be a great player for them, and it’s just unfortunate that he’s had some setbacks so early in his career.
But the head coach says he still sees Jones’ potential, and once he gets bigger and stronger, he’s going to be a really good player.