On Tuesday morning, Doug Pederson held his final press conference leading up to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Thursday night preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. Here are some takeaways from what the Super Bowl winning head coach had to say.
Nick Foles will start against the Browns
Foles is fine enough to play despite suffering a shoulder strain against the Patriots last Thursday. Pederson said he’s looking for more consistency out of the reigning Super Bowl MVP this week. Pederson said he saw too many “not Nick Foles type throws as far as accuracy goes” against New England and he’s looking for the quarterback to execute those routine plays this time around.
With Carson Wentz’s status uncertain for Week 1, it WOULD be nice to see Foles look better than he did last week.
It would also be nice to see Wentz take one snap against Cleveland just to rub it in their faces, but we won’t be seeing that. Wentz won’t play. (Fun fact: the Browns are 1-31 since passing on Wentz.)
The starters will get a lot of playing time
The third preseason game is always the “dress rehearsal” game where teams want to get their starters a good amount of playing time. Pederson confirmed the Eagles’ first team units will play through “at least the first half.”
Part of the value of having the first team play so much, as Pederson explained it, is getting them some situational football snaps. He specifically mentioned the two-minute drill, both offensively and defensively.
Carson Wentz update
How’s Wentz looked in practice since returning to 11-on-11 on Sunday? Pederson’s answer:
“He’s doing well. He’s doing well. He’s moving well. He’s making good decisions, throwing the ball extremely well. Talked about his arm the other day being live and fresh. He’s doing the right things with his rehab. Have been excited with by the stage that he’s in.”
Good to hear.
What Doug wants to see on Thursday night
Pederson said he wants to see overall improved execution, eliminating penalties, cutting down on turnovers (which have been a “sore spot”), and capitalizing on takeaways opportunities they’ve previously missed.
Pederson said he’s not too concerned about the team’s offensive struggles during the preseason. He talked about trying to experiment with different packages and ultimately evaluate personnel.
Another aspect to this week’s game is the game planning element. Pederson thinks that’ll be helpful to guys like offensive coordinator Mike Groh and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, who both received promotions this offseason.
Some injury updates
Pederson said the Eagles are resting Jay Ajayi, who missed practice on Sunday and Monday, as he deals with a lower body injury. With Donnel Pumphrey and Josh Adams still missing time, the Eagles are down to two healthy running backs: Wendell Smallwood and Matt Jones. Both players failed to impress against New England. They’ll have a chance to bounce back against the Browns.
Brandon Graham won’t be playing this week despite coming off the PUP list on Monday. Pederson said he’s progressing well.
Mack Hollins “practiced a little bit on Monday” and might have a shot to play this week. Hollins missed the Eagles’ second preseason game.
Jason Peters and Darren Sproles aren’t injured but they won’t play this week. This means they won’t be playing in the preseason at all this year.
Nickel cornerback battle
Pederson agreed with Jim Schwartz’s assessment that Thursday night will go a long way in determining the battle at nickel cornerback. Pederson specifically mentioned Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones (in that order, for what it’s worth) as the two main contenders there. (Sorry, De’Vante Bausby.)
Pederson was asked about his book FEARLESS, which came out today. Pederson joked that he wrote the book “to make sure I signed a copy to you” in response to Howard Eskin’s question.
Answering seriously, Pederson said he was originally against the idea of writing the book but he felt like it was a good opportunity “for people to see me in a different light.” And allow people to “get to know me outside of football.”