The Eagles head coach was not here for any nonsense on Sunday, when he spoke to the media ahead of practice. Doug Pederson didn’t want to get into who the starters for Week 1 would be and tried to redirect focus to the team’s fourth preseason game against the Jets instead.
Reporters then shifted attention to quarterback Carson Wentz and when he would be cleared for contact. The QB still wasn’t cleared on Sunday, and Pederson said, “we’ll see” when asked if it could come as late as the day before the season opener. He also pointed questions about what the doctors are looking for to the medical staff themselves.
(The snark from Dougy P was real today.)
A question was being asked about how the team will prepare on a short week for Week 1, and Pederson quickly cut him off, saying they had seven days to prepare so it doesn’t change their practice schedule.
He was asked if Jordan Mailata has progressed they way they had hoped he would when they drafted him back in April, and Pederson answered succinctly, “He’s doing alright. Yep, day-by-day getting better.”
After an awkward first minute or two, the head coach finally opened up a little more about what the team is doing to prepare for next week’s game, and on his thoughts about the offense against the Browns.
“It actually wasn’t bad at all. I mean, the worst thing about it was obviously the turnovers and the missed opportunities, but we had some really good things in the game.”
Pederson was asked how they try to create the rhythm for the first-team, and he noted “We just have to continue to keep working.” He continued to talk about how he’s structuring practice this week, getting some of the guys who are “penciled in” right now some more snaps to give the coaching staff more to evaluate.
On whether there were any Alshon Jeffery updates, Pederson shook his head and said, “not at this time”.
The head coach was asked to elaborate on Thursday’s game against the Browns, and what positives he saw, especially with most of the offensive starters sitting out. Pederson noted that preseason games are a little different, rather than evaluate wins and losses, they’re looking at individual performances and how certain units perform.
“There was some really good individual efforts in the game, but at the same time, it’s another great opportunity this week for a lot of young players to showcase their abilities one last time.”
Pederson was also asked if we can expect to see more from Derek Barnett this season, especially as Brandon Graham works his way back from injury. “I think he’s had a really good offseason, a really good training camp,” Pederson noted. He explained that they rotate a lot along the defensive line to keep guys fresh, but Barnett get a good number of snaps.
Running back Wendell Smallwood had a big game last week, and Pederson was asked what the young player needs to do to earn a roster spot. The head coach explained it’s more than just staying healthy and being available for additional snaps, but that Smallwood has done a great job on special teams and has made very few mistakes during these preseason games.
Pederson talked a little more about Wentz’s progression in RPO work and then, again, was asked about when we’d know if the quarterback is cleared.
Around the 7:15 mark of his press conference, you can actually feel Pederson’s head about to explode.
As the question wraps up, the head coach laughs a little, before defending his seeming lack of answers to the question he’s been asked ad nauseam. He retorts that he doesn’t want to put himself, his quarterback or the medical team in a box, and he’s not going to arbitrarily throw out a guess.
When Wentz is cleared, he’ll be cleared, and that’s exactly how he’ll answer that question every time it’s asked.
It comes down to, yes, Wentz is evaluated every day medically — as Pederson pointed out — just like Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos, and all the other players coming back from an injury.