It’s been a couple of days since we’ve heard from Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, but he spoke again on Friday as the team gets ready to take on Tampa Bay.
We already know that Nick Foles will be the starter on Sunday, but the head coach talked a bit about the progress of some of the receivers, and how they’ll help get Foles into a rhythm early against the Buccaneers.
Here’s what Pederson had to say:
On offense/special team injuries
He opened his press conference talking about Darren Sproles, and noted that the running back had a slight hamstring issue that he suffered during practice, but they are waiting to see how he does during practice on Friday before making any decisions about his availability for Sunday.
Similarly with Shelton Gibson, who is sidelined with a quad injury. Pederson noted that he should be fine, but he’s another guy they are waiting until after practice to make a decision about.
With those two guys potentially out on Sunday, Pederson was asked who would fill in on kick and punt returns. The head coach noted that they’ve had Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Nelson Agholor all get return experience, and then Clement and DeAndre Carter have gotten some extra work at returning punts the past couple of days.
Pederson also noted that Alshon Jeffery has “looked good” and that they’ll evaluate him again next week. The receiver has still only been doing individual drills while he waits to be cleared for contact.
He was later asked if keeping some players out during the preseason could create offenses that start a season slower than defenses. Pederson explained that while that could certainly have a bit of an effect, there were some teams in Week 1 who put up a ton of points, so it’s more on a team-by-team basis.
On Tampa Bay injuries
He was asked if the Bucs secondary being injured will affect their game planning. Pederson noted that he sees it a little differently, in that they first have to get past Tampa Bay’s defensive line, which is a challenge all it own. So before they can even worry about capitalizing on their injured secondary, they first have to focus on getting past the line.
Pederson also pointed out that they do have to be more effective offensively, and he has to do a better job of calling plays to shoot the ball down the field. He talked about execution, particularly up front, and that we’ll see what happens.
On facing former players
The Eagles will be facing two very familiar guys on Sunday in DE/DTs Vinny Curry and Beau Allen and Pederson admitted that they have to make some changes to their offense to keep a competitive advantage.
“It’s something we have to take in consideration,” Pederson noted.
He talked about Curry and Allen being two great players that the Eagles owe a lot of credit to for their help in getting a Super Bowl win, but at the same time they are focused on their new roles in Tampa Bay.
The Eagles just have to focus on executing, but they will have to be mindful of when Curry and Allen are in the game. He did say they would have to change up a few things because the pair was familiar with the Eagles terminology upfront.
On prep for weather conditions
Pederson said it’s something they just have to keep educating the players on how to stay hydrated and prepare for those type of hot and humid conditions — the same they’ll face this weekend in Tampa.
He continued to point out that the hydration process can’t start a day or two before the game, but rather the beginning of the week is when players need to start getting their bodies ready.
The head coach also pointed to Wednesday’s practice being a bit humid, which was beneficial in terms of replicating the environment. Hydration, along with nutrition and rest, are all things they can’t let hinder them on Sunday.
On Eagles fans traveling
Pederson talked about first and foremost wanting all those fans traveling to be safe in light of Hurricane Florence hammering the east coast, but acknowledged that having fans around for away games helps.
He talked about the team being able to feel the energy of fans in town, around the hotels and at the games. The head coach talked about how Eagles fans travel extremely well, and how them being loud can help in opposing stadiums.
The team itself will be flying around the storm, so they might have to go a little further west to get their safely.