Doug Pederson spoke to the media ahead of the Eagles’ Friday practice and talked about several players who might be back from injury on Sunday, as well as the depth at defensive end, and what he expects from the Bears.
Pederson also discussed having 3 home games in November after a tough road-schedule in October. He hopes that they weathered the storm — even if it didn’t go as well as they hoped — and can get some good wins heading into the 3rd quarter of the season.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On returning injured players
Pederson said that he’s optimistic DeSean Jackson will play on Sunday. They’re going to see how he does during Friday’s practice before making the decision. He mentioned that Jackson has been limited in practice this week, so he could make his return to the field — and if he does, they’ll certainly have to monitor his workload as they go.
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and running back Darren Sproles are in a similar situation as Jackson. They’ve had a good week of preparation and practice, so they’ll get through Friday’s practice and see where they’re at.
When asked who won’t play against the Bears, Pederson quipped, “I’m not gonna say that just yet”. He followed up by confirming Jason Peters and Nigel Bradham are two guys that won’t be playing, but everyone else has a legitimate shot.
Pederson also acknowledged that if Avonte Maddox returns, he will jump right back into the nickel spot. He’s had a week and a half of practice at this point, so he’s prepared.
The head coach later talked about how returning players from injury was part of the reason they didn’t make moves heading into the trade deadline (aside from Genard Avery). He also said that he does look at the first half of the season, and seeing it differently had they had some of their key players.
Pederson also noted that the bye week doesn’t factor in to whether a guy will play on Sunday, and that if they are medically able to play, they will.
“Every game is too important to win, especially where we are with our win-loss record.”
On Jordan Howard facing his former team
“I’ve seen the guy each week has been focused, and this week hasn’t really been any different for him — the way he’s gone about his business, the way he’s prepared. He’s had a good week of practice, and I know he’ll be excited to see some of his teammates and friends. But, at the same time, once it’s teed up, it’s football, but he’ll be ready.”
On the DE position
Pederson had previously said that it’s tough to get draft pick Shareef Miller much game time because of the depth at the position. But, then, they go and add Genard Avery, totaling 7 DE’s on the Eagles roster. The head coach said that it’s tough to get all those guys on the field, but it’s a deep group.
He went on to say that Miller is still learning — the game, the defense — and is getting good practice reps.
Regarding how they find playing time for Avery, Pederson said that when you make a move to get a guy you have to figure out how to get them on the field.
“He’s worked in, he’s practice this week, and we’ll find a role for him.”
On the Bears
Pederson acknowledged that the personnel is similar and the structure is relatively the same as when the Eagles played the Bears in January. He went on to say that there are some Chuck Pagano tweaks with the defense. The defense plays fast, plays hard, and has a great front four.
“It’s one of those defenses, where they’re not gonna necessarily show you a lot of things, or do a lot of things, because they are so good and they just want to line up and play football.”
The head coach also talked about they are anticipating this being a good challenge for rookie Andre Dillard — especially with Khalil Mack being moved all around the line. Pederson noted that Dillard played well the past two games, and this will be one of the toughest challenges in his young career, but he’ll be ready.
Pederson said that it’s part of a tackle’s job to be kind of on an island, but — without giving the game plan away — talked about things changing with respect to who the opponent is. Sometimes they have to give the tackles a little extra help which could come from the tight ends or running backs, as well. But, the defense knows that and can change up their scheme to anticipate that kind of thing.