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Doug Pederson talks Eagles injury updates, Andre Dillard at right tackle, Jay Ajayi’s role, more

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Wednesday morning recap.

Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media ahead of practice on Wednesday, and gave some injury updates, spoke about their contingency plans if certain players aren’t available on Sunday, and also compared Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

Injury updates

  • Lane Johnson is still in concussion protocol.
  • Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Howard can both do some individual work at practice, but Howard hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.
  • Nigel Bradham will be back practicing this week.

On Andre Dillard

Pederson confirmed that they are going to get the rookie some work at right tackle this week, especially with Johnson still in protocol. He also noted that Big V will be the swing tackle if that’s the case.

“One of the things we loved about Andre is his durability — not only durability, but flexibility. His versatility to play both left and right. And even though he’s been limited on the right side, primarily the left tackle for us, this will be a great week of preparation for him, to really hone in his skill and be a swing tackle in that case.

But, he’ll do a great job this week. He’ll prepare, and it’s a matter of, honestly, you’re playing on the right side. Movement skill is kind of the opposite of the left, you’re more to the right unless you have to step down, things like that. He’ll pick up on it quickly, and he’ll be fine.”

On the offense and improvements

Pederson said one of the priorities for the team this week is to improve on first and second downs. He noted that they had far too many third and long situations on Sunday against the Patriots. Even better, the head coach said, is to create more first downs and eliminate third downs altogether.

The head coach also mentioned that there is a role for Jay Ajayi in the offense, in addition to just being insurance in the event Jordan Howard is still out. Pederson also clarified that they signed Ajayi because of Darren Sproles going on IR even though they are different types of running backs. But, if Howard can’t go, Ajayi’s role would likely increase as a result.

He was also asked about Jordan Matthews’ performance in his return last week, and Pederson noted that he did some good things and some not so good things. And when Matthews looks at the tape, he’ll see his mistakes and correct them, and play better this upcoming Sunday. But, overall, it’s nice having a veteran player, and someone accustomed to their culture, to really step in and fill in where they needed.

On experience overcoming adversity

“I think last year we were 4-6 last year at this time, and we made a push and got ourselves in the postseason. We did need some help, obviously, at the end of the year, but we still made that run, because we felt like we need to control what we can control.

So, we can look back on that, and No. 1 through injury, which, obviously, we’re sustaining that on offensive side of the ball a little bit right now. So, the next man up has to play, and that’s kind of the strength we leaned on with the defense — the next man up had to play. It’s a resilient group, I lean on the leaders, I lean on the veteran players on the team to really keep everything coming, and we just gotta go practice and continue to trust our process, and do all the little things that helped us get to the postseason, and ultimately the Super Bowl a couple years ago.”

On Seattle prep

Pederson was asked who is Russell Wilson during practice, and the head coach noted that obviously Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld can do it, but sometimes they do use Greg Ward in certain scenarios. He said it’s a tough task to simulate Wilson, but they do they best they can.

He later talked about how Wilson is healthy and playing at an extremely high level, and that the team’s run game has helped the quarterback, as well. Wilson’s ability to create plays outside the pocket continues to be a strength, especially when he’s healthy — like he is now. The Eagles will have to try and limit the scrambles and explosive plays.

Pederson was asked how Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz are similar, and the head coach noted that they were proven winners in college and even down to high school. He went on to say that they’re both great leaders, they’re tough physically and not afraid to extend plays with their legs, and both have powerful arms. Pederson did give the nod for speed to Wilson.

The head coach was also asked about their assessment of DK Metcalf during the draft process, and he admitted that they liked the player. Metcalf is a big, strong, powerful guy with some really good tape, but they saw similar things — in terms of size and ability to win in coverage — from JJ Arcega-Whiteside.

Pederson later talked a bit about Jadeveon Clowney and how the Seahawks are using the defender. He mentioned that they move Clowney around a lot, whether it’s at defensive end or spinner, to the tight end or away from the tight end, he can drop in coverage — so they’ll utilizing his talent and he’s been disruptive.