Doug Pederson was in a much better mood on Tuesday, following a fairly snarky exchange with reporters on Sunday. As soon as he stepped the podium, the Eagles’ head coach quipped, “I just got done meeting with the doctors,” before throwing out a ‘just kidding.’
Here’s what the head coach had to say heading into the final preseason game on Thursday against the Jets.
On Carson Wentz’s progression
Pederson was asked about rumblings that Carson Wentz had taken more reps this week in practice, but the head coach said they were actually identical to last week.
He was also asked when splitting the reps between Wentz and Nick Foles would end, but Pederson noted that it’s still technically the preseason and that means working to get all the team’s QBs an adequate number of reps.
He did elaborate, that as they get into the regular season and start game planning, they want to whoever the starter is, to get the full compliment of reps.
Although when later asked about when his deadline is to pick a starter for Week 1, Pederson jokingly said that it was about 90 minutes before kickoff. He admitted “I’ll know” ahead of time, and when pressed, acknowledged that privately, they should know by Friday, but publicly, we’ll all just have to wait until game day.
Pederson also talked about how Wentz has always been involved in the 7-on-7 drills during training camp, and that his arm was live. What they’ve seen since Wentz returned to the 11-on-11 drills, was his lower body strength and just how well he had rehabbed.
He continued that physically, Wentz is probably stronger than any of the other four QBs on the roster, just because of the amount of conditioning and training he’s had to do to come back from his injury.
On Week 1 prep and players
Alshon Jeffery is still a question mark heading into the regular season but Pederson noted, “first of all he’s doing well in his rehab” and that he’s progressed to about 75 throws per day. They are going to continue monitoring him and see where he’s at next week. Right now though, he’s progressing, but still day-by-day.
Jay Ajayi is another guy whose missed sometime. The head coach noted that Ajayi has been resting a lower body injury, and they are just getting him ready to go for the regular season.
Similarly, receiver Mack Hollins is another guy with a lower body injury, and the rest has really helped him. Hollins is feeling a lot better Pederson noted, and they expect him back for Week 1.
Pederson is also not looking for any excuses about having a “short week” heading into the Week 1 game against Atlanta, explaining — much like he did on Sunday — that their game on Thursday against the Jets, still leaves them exactly one week out from the season opener.
On which positions are a priority to see
Pederson noted specifically, that getting some looks at the young receivers in the team’s last preseason game, will go a long way in deciding who ends up making the roster. He was quick to point out though, that they aren’t just trying to decide which guys will make the 53-man roster, but also those they want to add to the practice squad.
The head coach did mention running back Josh Adams, saying they haven’t been able to get him a lot of touches so far this preseason, and that they are hoping to get him more involved against the Jets. Pederson called Adams, “another bright spot” and a young player that’s made an impact for the Eagles.
On Thursday against the Jets, Pederson is just interested in seeing these guys “one last time in this type of environment”. He pointed out that the young players didn’t get a ton of snaps last week against the Browns, and it’s time for the coaches and staff to do their due diligence and make sure they aren’t missing anything.
He was also asked about what he was hoping to see from QB4 and QB5 on Thursday — Joe Callahan and Christian Hackenberg. Pederson admitted we haven’t seen much from either of them much this preseason. More than anything though, the head coach is looking at their overall execution, and how well they can manage and handle the game.
On worrying about waivers
Pederson was asked if he worries about young players getting picked up off waivers before the Eagles get the opportunity to sign them to the practice squad. The head coach admitted that sometimes you get a feel for who will and won’t be available — whether it’s because of an injury they are working through, or maybe didn’t have a ton of game time during the preseason. But, for the most part , “you’re just kinda hoping and praying these guys make it through and you can bring them back”.
On P Cameron Johnston
(Inject this whole section right into my veins.)
Pederson didn’t mince words when it came to the team’s only punter, but seemed genuinely happy with the progress that the Aussie has made this offseason.
“Cam’s really improved over the last couple of week,” Pederson noted. “He gets better in practice each week. Every rep he takes is a good rep, now. He’s getting stronger and you can see the get off time’s are faster, the hang times are a little better.”
The head coach said Thursday’s game is another good opportunity for Johnston to show coaches what he’s got, but that he’s been a valuable addition to the roster.
Pederson also talked about how they are working with Johnston on different types of punts and doing some situational things right now. He mentioned the Buckeyes’ skill set is a little different, so they are experimenting with some of his different kicks and directional things that he can do, as well.