It’s been a roller coaster of a week for the Eagles, who excitedly welcomed Golden Tate to the practice field on Wednesday, but then saw Darren Sproles tweak his hamstring later that same day.
Head coach Doug Pederson mentioned earlier in the week that he had expected Sproles to play on Sunday, and he talked a little bit on Friday about where the running back stands after the setback but wouldn’t say what the team’s Plan B is heading into the rivalry game.
Here’s what (snarky) Doug Pederson had to say:
Darren Sproles and Injury Updates
Pederson was asked right out of the gate why Sproles’ injury has sidelined him for as long as it has, and he said that the team’s responsibility it to communicate with the player and make sure things are 100% before putting them back out on the field.
When asked (again) why this particular hamstring injury has taken nine weeks to recover from, the head coach sniped back about how everyone heals differently. It was at that point he knew where the line of questions would go, and was upfront that he’s not a doctor and wouldn’t be giving up all that much information on the situation.
He did, however, say that he’s still optimistic that Sproles will come back sometime this season. “That’s the God honest truth.”
Pederson was then asked if he’s getting the information from the medical staff that he wants and needs — coming of the team releasing DeAndre Carter in anticipation of Sproles being back. The head coach said he gets his information from the medical staff, doctors and the player, and went on to say that quite frankly the most important piece is how the player feels in his return to play.
And ultimately, based on that, they felt comfortable moving forward with plans that Sproles would play before he suffered a set back on the practice field.
The head coach wouldn’t elaborate on who would take over punt return duties with Sproles out and Carter now gone.
Pederson was also asked about the three guys on IR who are getting close to being able to return, and he emphasized that which two of three return will be based on how the players are feeling in terms of their readiness to get back on the field. He did say there are few different other things to consider in addition to their readiness, including what time of the year they are returning and how they’ll fit into what the team is doing, and that the coaches and front office will have some tough decisions to make coming up down the stretch.
He was then asked about the number of soft-tissue injuries Eagles players have suffered this year, and the head coach admitted it was a good question but he’s not a doctor. He also quipped that of course he talks to the team doctors about these things, but there isn’t a ton of research about soft tissue injuries, so they use all the tools and resources available to them — whether that’s sport science or strength and conditioning — to work through it.
Pederson also noted that he’d rather have soft tissue injuries to deal with than eight ACL issues that could keep guys out the whole season.
The head coach also said that Sidney Jones is doing real good in his rehab, but that he and Jalen Mills are on track to return soon — noting Mills is a little further away than Jones. But they are going to try and see if Jones is ready to go on Sunday, if not, he wouldn’t disclose who the nickel will be.
Lane Johnson’s knee has reacted well this week in practice and is still expected to play on Sunday.
Later on Pederson was asked if there was a lack of communication with the medical staff and the front office with the changes over the offseason. The head coach (after a small chuckle that read “we’re still talking about the medical staff”) said that they actually have more communication among them because of the personnel changes.
On Golden Tate’s first few practices
Pederson was asked what he’s learned about his new receiver, and the head coach noted his ability to recognize and react to coverage has been impressive. He went on to say that one of the things that jumps out on film is Tate’s first-step quickness and when you see him in person it shows up.
The head coach also noted that you can’t always tell what kind of work ethic a player is going to have, but that Tate as a veteran player has come in and embraced his role and opportunity.
“He’s done a really nice job.”
Pederson was also asked if after seeing Tate practice they changed up the game plan, but he said they hadn’t. He also noted that they want to be careful and not ask him to do too much out of the gate, and making sure they aren’t putting him in situations he’s not comfortable with.
He later on went through how they put together the packages for Tate throughout the week — noting game planning happens mostly Wednesday through Friday —, and Pederson said on Wednesday’s they’d identify a handful of plays and see how he does with those, and then they get to situational parts of the game, and then they start putting the pieces together.
Pederson also admitted that Tate could help them in the return game, it’s something he has experience doing and could be something they look at in Sproles’ absence.
On Cowboys prep
Pederson talked a little about having to drown out all the noise coming out of Dallas about the discord within the organization and this being a make or break game for them. The head coach noted that while you have to avoid some of it, you also need to be aware of those things that could build a fire under the opponent.
He said in that capacity, both the Eagles and Cowboys are in the same boat, where they need this win to stay afloat within the division and are in must-win situations.
Pederson admitted you do see a little different style and structure with the Dallas defense being called under Kris Richard, compared to what he’s seen since he’s been the Eagles head coach. He went on to say that you still see Rod’s influence on the defensive line and linebackers, but schematically it’s more in that Seattle, Jacksonville, Chargers type of system.