The Eagles head coach is still fielding a lot of questions about injuries to key players, but the team is welcoming running back Jay Ajayi to the field on Sunday despite his back injury. Doug Pederson talked about preparing for the Titans multi-faceted offense and more in his press conference on Friday morning.
Here’s what Pederson had to say:
On Titans prep
Jay Ajayi is officially back for the Eagles on Sunday after rehabbing a fractured back. Pederson admitted, “it sounds bad,” and he even had that same injury during his time as a player, and it’s a go-as-tolerated type injury.
“He’s a tough kid and he’s battled through it, and he’s really felt fine.”
Pederson was asked about facing a quarterback who can do so much offensively, whether it’s the zone read or wildcat situations, and he talked about it being a unique style but the Eagles’ defense is used to facing that type of multi-faceted offense in practice.
He also pointed out it’s all about discipline for the defense, making sure they review the film and training their eyes to make the right reads.
The head coach was then asked about Nelson Agholor’s performance over the first three games of the season, and Pederson noted he’s been playing well and real consistent. On top of that, he’s stepped up and taken on a much bigger load with injuries to Alshon Jeffery and Mike Wallace.
Carson Wentz earlier in the week said that he has a target goal of 70% completion rate, but Pederson admitted that’s a bit lofty, but if he’s at high-60’s the team is happy.
Pederson was also asked about whether they pay attention to the defense allowing more points on the road, and their overall away game production. The head coach acknowledged that of course they do, and they even talk about how to handle their road games during training camp.
He continued to talk about how there are so many extra tiny distractions that come along with playing on the road. They have friends and family members in the hotels, different coaches pulling them in multiple directions, and so there’s a lot more to be focused on as they prepare for an away game.
Out of respect for Rodney McLeod, Pederson wouldn’t comment on the severity of the injury and the team still isn’t sure if they will end up putting the safety on IR or if he’ll even be out the whole season. It’s too early to tell.
The head coach also wouldn’t really go into what they were going to do to make up for the loss of McLeod roster-wise, but Pederson has been working with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz this week to make sure they are covered.
“We’ve got a plan and we’re comfortable with what we’ve got.” (But, he also said they are looking for anyone outside that could add depth.)
Alshon Jeffery was medically cleared earlier this week but missed practice on Thursday due to an illness. Pederson said the wide receiver isn’t really feeling much better, and that after speaking with team doctors, they say the virus is about a 24-48 hours deal.
Pederson did say that they had seen enough from Jeffery on Wednesday, and then have some time on Saturday — with a late departure — to determine whether he’ll be able to play on Sunday.
He said that the team has tested Darren Sproles this week, and he’s not quite there yet in terms of getting back out there on game day, but he’s getting close with his hamstring issue.