The Eagles are two days away from taking the field again, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media ahead of Friday’s practice. He talked about the defensive tackle position, who will play slot corner on Sunday, and how the team is bouncing back.
Pederson said (again) that DeSean Jackson is getting close to returning, and continues to run and work on the side. The head coach hopes to get Jackson back on the grass next week — maybe — but they don’t want to rush him back.
And, he noted that the six players who haven’t participated this week in practice, likely won’t play on Sunday. BUT, Avonte Maddox will do some practice, service team reps on Friday, so he’s getting close.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the roster
The Eagles have an open roster spot right now, and Pederson mentioned that they could bring up Bruce Hector from the practice squad. He then agreed that they would likely add a defensive tackle to fill that open spot, but they do expect the two rookie DTs signed earlier in the week to play on Sunday. Pederson joked that if they aren’t ready to play, Fletcher Cox would have to take every single defensive snap, so they’ll be expected to contribute.
He said the two new additions — Anthony Rush and Albert Huggins — have done a great job this week at practice and they are excited about them and their potential. Pederson talked about how they are familiar with Rush since he’s been with the Eagles before, and the DT knows their defensive scheme which also helps.
The head coach also talked about Bruce Hector and what they’ve seen from him in the snaps he got last season.
“It’s a guy that, obviously, been in our system, knows the defense, knows the front. I know he’s excited if given the opportunity. It’s something he’s kinda — you can see him at practice, and he’s been talking to the guys about it like, ‘Man, hopefully this is my time’. And if he does [get promoted from the practice squad], he’ll do well for us. Again, it gives us the added depth at that spot until we get some guys back.”
On the slot corner spot
Pederson admitted he does know who will play in the slot on Sunday, but wouldn’t announce it publicly. (He said with a big smile.)
On cornerback injuries
“Darby has made really good progress. He feels good, he feels healthy, and again, just working himself back into playing shape. And, football shape is the biggest thing with guys that have missed time. He’s looked good in practice. Excited for his opportunity this weekend.”
Pederson also said that Cre’Von LeBlanc is getting close and has been working really hard on the side with the medical team. They want to make sure he’s 100% before getting him back out there, but “he’s getting there”.
On the state of the team
Pederson acknowledged that they had a lot of off-the-field distractions last week, but they put that behind them and he thinks the team has responded well this week in practice. He went on to say that the guys understand the mistakes they made, and it was the coaches job to not only point those out but to also correct them.
He talked about how players have been encouraging on the practice field, and they want to keep running plays until they get them right, and make those corrections right away. Pederson pointed out that the different position groups are working off to the side together, too.
The head coach also admitted that the distractions off the field could have played a part in their loss to the Cowboys. Hearing about it, reading about it, and being asked about it everyday can certainly seep in mentally. But, Pederson said, all of that comes with their job, with the territory.
On the anonymous source specifically, Pederson said that he addressed it with the team and said they can’t have that. There’s a better way to get their voice heard, and they can go to the coach or their teammate, because that’s a better way to handle it.
On Buffalo’s pass defense
“They got great personnel number one. Number two, they’re very good up front, their four pass rushers. And, this is a team that they don’t show you a lot, from the standpoint of tipping their hands — like, they disguise a lot of things, and then they can bring a blitz like that. It makes you really account for where they are, how they line up, our keys, our reads, things like that.
I feel like this is a really good secondary, the backend. These two safeties are smart, they’re talented, they’re tough kids. [Tre’Davious] White, in my opinion, is playing at a high level right now. He’s making plays on the ball. And just overall, they’re playing with a lot of confidence and this opportunistic team, they’re creating turnovers for the offense.”
Pederson noted that the priority for the Eagles offense will be not to turn the ball over, and learn from their mistakes the past few weeks. He said they just need to execute their plays, understand the structure of the defense, know their matchups, and study their tendencies. Aside from that, they also need to do better on third downs and stay on the field a bit longer.