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Doug Pederson gives some injury updates and talks about the Eagles’ playoff mentality

The Eagles head coach also talked about the challenge of playing at Soldier Field.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Friday, for the last time ahead of Sunday’s wildcard playoff game, and he talked a bit about the team’s playoff mentality and about how tough the conditions in Chicago will be at this point in the season — both the field conditions and the challenges of an aggressive defense.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

Injury Updates

On Avonte Maddox and Wendell Smallwood being listed on the injury report yesterday, Pederson said they were incidental so they just gave the guys an extra day of rest, but they’ll both be back at practice on Friday and he’s optimistic they’ll play on Sunday.

The head coach noted that Isaac Seumalo is doing better and is looking better each day. He noted they have to get through a full day from him on Friday and see where he’s at. Regarding whether he’d be back at left guard, Pederson noted that the biggest priority is first making sure Seumalo is 100% before making that decision.

Pederson also noted that Nick Foles is doing better every day as well, and is doing everything he can with treatment and protocols they have him on. He said that the QB is feeling good and did throw on Thursday, but again, they’ll see where he’s at after a full practice on Friday. Pederson also said that it doesn’t appear that Foles is favoring one side or another when he’s in the pocket and looks like the same old quarterback.

On the QB situation

Pederson talked about how there is a heightened sense of awareness from back-up Nate Sudfeld, knowing that he could be one-play away from getting into the game, like he was last week. But the head coach noted that Sudfeld understood that three to four weeks ago when Carson Wentz was sidelined and he became the No. 2 guy.

On the playoff mentality

The head coach was asked what about Alshon Jeffery’s personality allows him to step up in big games, like he has for the team in the past. Pederson said that when he talks to the team about the importance of Sunday’s game, he talks about the playmakers need to show up and Jeffery is one of their offensive playmakers.

Jeffery understands that and has really come on the last month of the season, and when the ball comes his way he’s really aggressive toward the ball. Pederson noted that Jeffery is also (obviously) excited about going back to Chicago and looking forward to that opportunity.

Later, Pederson was asked about the defensive line — filled with older players — playing their best football right now, and the head coach noted that it wasn’t so much that they’ve been pacing themselves, but rather a gradual increase in production throughout the season. Plus, as veterans, they understand that playing their best football late in the season is important, and with a season of playing together, they’re playing better as a cohesive group.

He also talked about the running back by committee approach and said that’s something they’ve continued to use, and that with Darren Sproles back, you can see that the veteran has gotten some more touches, and will likely continue to use him more. But, Pederson said all three backs have done a good job when called on, and sometimes the work load is divided up by design and other times it’s based on whose got the hot hand.

On playing in Chicago

Pederson was asked about playing at Soldier Field this time of year, and the head coach drew on his experience from when he was in Green Bay. He talked about how it’s a great atmosphere for football and the fans are loud and it’s a great stadium.

He noted that it’s different earlier in the season vs. now as far as the grass is concerned, but that’s football, especially winter-time football. Pederson said that’s what you’d expect this time of year, and it’s no different than the conditions at The Linc, but it is something they have to be prepared for. He went on to say that it’s something they have to talk to the guys about, in terms of proper shoes, gloves, whatever it might be.

Pederson was then asked about Alshon Jeffery’s comments earlier in the week calling the field in Chicago “terrible” and other players noting they’d need to wear different cleats on Sunday. The head coach admitted he hadn’t been there in a couple years, and haven’t been there in a while at this point in the season, so he doesn’t really have a lot of knowledge about that.

He did say that the equipment staff does a great job of bringing the right type of shoes, and more shoes than normal, and he’s asked the guys to go out on the field during pre-game and test it out and see what works for them.

On the Bears’ success

Pederson was asked what the key to Chicago’s success at taking the ball away this season, and he noted that it starts with the pass rush. He talked about how they are getting pressure on the quarterbacks, forcing the QB to either throw the ball early or tipping the ball, and even forcing a poor throw, and then being opportunistic in those moments.

He also said that they’re great at stripping and punching at the ball from running backs and it’s turning into points for them. Pederson acknowledged they have a lot of respect for that and he knows they’ll try and do that on Sunday so the Eagles need to prioritize ball security.

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