The Eagles are just days away from facing the New England Patriots, and despite coming off the bye week, are still making roster moves and announcing new injuries. Head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Friday about these injuries and updates to the running back position, as well as how he’s approaching game planning for Sunday’s matchup.
Pederson also noted that he assumes the Eagles will have some kind of representation at Colin Kaepernick’s workout this weekend. He said, obviously, since they are in-season, Pederson can’t be there himself, and he’s comfortable with the QBs they have on roster, but he assumes they’ll have someone in attendance.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On the RBs and injuries
The head coach started off by saying that he hadn’t had a chance to meet with Jay Ajayi just yet — who is at the facility for a workout —, but they’ll see where he’s at later on. They hadn’t held the workout prior to Pederson meeting with the media, but will see where he’s at physically and with his conditioning.
Pederson later on said that based on Ajayi’s history with the team, he would feel comfortable playing him a little bit on Sunday against the Patriots. He also mentioned that the team has De’Angelo Henderson on the practice squad too, and he’s familiar with the offense, etc... so, they have a couple options if needed.
“So, Jordan [Howard] did sustain, late in the game against the Bears, he did sustain what would be defined as a stinger. He’s been cleared to do some sort of individual work in practice, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact, yet. Therefore, you know, that’s where he’s at.”
He said that with Howard, and guys like Alshon Jeffery and Nigel Bradham, they’ll put out the injury report later on Friday. Pederson later mentioned that he doesn’t know whether Howard’s injury could end up being a longer issue.
Pederson said that he’s learned that these kinds of injuries are part of the job, but it’s specifically disappointing in Sproles’ case because of the type of person he is and what he and his leadership mean to the team.
“He’s a Hall of Fame specialist, really in this league. So, I’m disappointed for him, moreso than probably the team, obviously. Just that he can’t continue.”
On how the team handles injuries
“We put them through a rigorous protocol before we put them back out on the field. And there’s, with both of these players [Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson] too, you have to consider where they are in their careers. But, this why guys even like Nigel [Bradham], isn’t back out practicing yet, or Cre’Von [LeBlanc]. We’re putting them through these rigorous tests so that when they do hit the field, they’re ready to go.
And, it’s just unfortunate. [Sproles] came in Monday, he worked Monday, did some conditioning on his day off Tuesday, and just felt it after practice on Wednesday, and so we had it checked out.
We make sure every box is checked before we put the guys out there.”
Pederson was also asked what these, and other, injuries said about the team’s decision to bring in and re-sign older players (over 30 years old). The head coach didn’t waiver and said he’d do it all again.
“These are players. These are great leaders. These are great teammates. Been apart of the organization for a long time, so I would make the same decision again. I think you have to — you can’t go into it blind, obviously, we know where they are in their careers, as we talked about, and that’s something we consider.”
On personnel questions and game planning
Pederson was asked about the challenge coming up with a game plan against the No. 1 defense in the league with so many questions surrounding the offense — notably whether Jordan Howard and Alshon Jeffery will be available.
He noted that one of the things they do well in Philly is coach everybody so that every one on the team can step in at a moments notice. So, regardless of the opponent, they’ll have to get the guys — whoever they are — ready to play on Sunday.
Pederson said that rookie wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside has put in a good week’s work, but he always does. The head coach noted that JJAW always prepares well, but he’s been behind Jeffery, so if his work load increases this week, they expect him to play well. But, Pederson did admit that the rookie has showed a greater sense of urgency this week at practice, and has a increased attention to detail.
“There’s heightened awareness that there’s a chance he gets an opportunity.”
The head coach also said that he thinks rookie rusher Miles Sanders would handle an increased work load and responsibility well, if required due to injuries. Sanders has played a lot of football for the team so far this season — even if it’s in the No. 2 role —, but the coaches have to be careful not to put too much on him where he wears out early.
“But, I think he’s very capable of handling the load.”
On Jordan Matthews
“He’s looked good. It hasn’t been that long since he’s been here, so his familiarity with the offense was good, his recall was good, energy was good. He spent some time with Carson [Wentz] this week, so I would expect him to play and to get some snaps in this game.”
On the Patriots
Pederson talked a bit about the prep for Sunday’s game, and said that reviewing the film, they’re a team that looks like they just keep getting better. He explained that as coaches, sometimes they get so caught up in watching the tape, that they can start second guessing themselves and the decisions they’re going to make. But, they just have to push through and continue studying, because there could be one last thing they notice that could help the team.
The head coach also agreed that they have to put emphasis on not making mistakes and turning the ball over with a defense that so rarely misses. He said that the players know this about the Patriots, and know that they are an opportunistic defense that creates turnovers various ways.