The Philadelphia Eagles occasionally make their assistant coaches available to the media and Monday morning marked one of those times. Here are some noteworthy nuggets from today’s session.
DESEAN JACKSON’S IMPACT
Carson Walch (#Eagles WR coach) on DeSean Jackson: “Our young guys sometimes are in awe seeing DeSean Jackson in our building."— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) June 10, 2019
The Eagles really talked up Jackson’s maturity upon bringing him back to Philly. The veteran wide receiver has delivered on that billing. Jackson, who hasn’t always made a habit of attending voluntary workouts, only missed one OTA practice this spring (the final one). He looked great on the practice field. Setting a good example for the young players.
WHO’S THE PUNT RETURNER?
Don’t ask Duce Staley.
Duce Staley on who will return punts for the #Eagles (with Darren Sproles seemingly not expected to return): “Right now, we don’t know.”— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) June 10, 2019
Let’s try Dave Fipp instead.
Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said DeSean Jackson is a top candidate to return punts. Need to figure out his offensive playing time and whole depth chart, but Jackson is the guy in focus right now.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) June 10, 2019
DeSean Jackson will be in the mix as the PR but only in key situations. Other possibilities mentioned by Fipp include Boston Scott, DeAndre Thompkins, Marken Michel and Donnel Pumphrey #Eagles— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) June 10, 2019
Of the guys Fipp mentioned, Jackson is really the only 100% lock to make the team. It’s hard to envision the 32-year-old returning a majority of the punts in addition to having a big role on offense. Jackson’s only returned eight punts since the start of the 2014 season.
The feeling here is that the Eagles will pick their spots with Jackson as the punt returner. So, whenever they feel they could use a spark on special teams. The Eagles could then have another punt returner who handles less pressing situations. It remains to be seen who that guy will be, though.
MILES SANDERS’ OUTLOOK
During the latest Birds With Friends episode, The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia relayed that Staley said ‘Miles Sanders is going to be special.’ The Eagles are high on their rookie running back despite the fact he’s missed the entirety of OTAs with a hamstring injury.
Even with Sanders in the fold, though, the Eagles aren’t about to suddenly abandon their running back rotation. Sanders and Jordan Howard figure to split a bulk of the carries.
Duce Staley is emphasizing that the #Eagles are always going to split the workload among the running backs in this offense. Don’t expect a bell cow.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) June 10, 2019
Speaking of Howard, there’s been some talk about his ability as a pass catcher. I think that’s being a little overblown. I hardly think Howard is incapable of catching the ball; I’ve seen him do that well enough in practice. But it’s not like he’s lining up out wide and making plays down the field like an Alvin Kamara. Howard’s a guy who’s averaged 1.5 receptions per game over his career. I’d be surprised if that’s drastically different in Philly.
JASON PETERS BOUNCE BACK?
There’s rightfully a lot of focus on 2019 being Carson Wentz’s second year removed from ACL/LCL surgery. But let’s not forget about the team’s starting left tackle, who originally injured his ACL in October 2017.
Here’s what offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland had to say in this regard:
“I’ll be honest. Have you ever had an ACL [surgery]? It takes a minute to come back from that. It takes a minute. A lot of people would say a year. Not only just physically but mentally. So, I really do believe — I’ve always felt this way — that he’s going to be a better, more productive player than last year. I really do believe that.
A healthier Peters bodes well for the Eagles’ offensive line — and thus the offense as a whole. Then again, Peters also turned 37 earlier this year so we’ll see how age factors in.
Personally, I’m not one to bet against JP. The guy is a freak. I think he has some quality football left in him before ceding the left tackle spot to Andre Dillard in 2020 and beyond.
DALLAS GOEDERT HYPE
#Eagles TE coach Justin Peelle said Dallas Goedert’s development has been “phenomenal.” Admitted that it could allow Zach Ertz to move around more.— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) June 10, 2019
No surprise here but the Eagles are bullish on their second-year tight end. Goedert’s looked great in spring practices. Philadelphia’s coaching staff MUST get him more involved in the offense this year. It would be malpractice to not get Goederet more looks.
WILL DARREN SPROLES RETURN?
Duce Staley wants Darren Sproles to come back to the #Eagles. Seems to think he’s going to play in the NFL this season, whether that’s with the Eagles or another team.— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) June 10, 2019
Duce Staley on Darren Sproles: "I don’t think he’s going to get old. I tell him all the time: I need to borrow some of that Kool Aid he’s drinking.” #Eagles— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) June 10, 2019
Speaking recently on the Pro Football Doc Podcast, Sproles said: “If the right team calls, then I go back.”
As I’ve said before, I believe the coaching staff when they say they’d love to have Sproles on the team. I’m just not so sure the front office thinks it’s a great idea.
I think the Eagles should try to measure the progress of the guys fighting for the fourth running back spot (Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey) before determining whether re-signing Sproles is needed.
BRANDON BROOKS IS AWESOME
Jeff Stoutland said he’s never seen someone bring such a positive, confident energy while dealing with a serious injury like Brandon Brooks has in his recovery from an Achilles injury. #Eagles— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) June 10, 2019
Just wanted to share this. Nice to see Brooks is handling a tough situation well.
ANDREW SENDEJO COMP PICK WATCH
Sounds like Vikings import Andrew Sendejo has the best shot at being the #Eagles' third safety. Maybe the 2nd if Rodney McLeod can't stay healthy.— Bob Grotz (@BobGrotz) June 10, 2019
Kapadia noted that Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin said of Sendejo: ‘loves ball, our kinda guy.’ The veteran safety HAS been taking first team reps in spring practices with both Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod missing time.
Sendejo appears to be the favorite for the third safety job — Corey Graham’s old role. But keeping Sendejo on the 53-man roster past Week 10 this year means the Eagles will lose the 2020 fourth-round compensatory pick they’re currently set to receive for losing Jordan Hicks.
Is Sendejo really so good that he’s worth losing that pick? That’s the decision the Eagles will have to make at some point.
NATHAN GERRY KNOWS MORE THAN HIS COACH
Gerry has been taking first team linebacker reps alongside Kamu Grugier-Hill. Of course, Nigel Bradham has been missing practice while he recovers from a thumb injury. Zach Brown also missed some practices, although Gerry was still running with the starters when Brown returned.
The Athletic’s Bo Wulf noted that Eagles linebacker coach Ken Flajole was really talking up Gerry. Flajole even said something along the lines of: ‘It feels like [Gerry] knows more than I do.”
Maybe it means nothing but I don’t think I’d count on Gerry getting cut this summer.
ALEX SINGLETON ... WHO?
Here’s a deep cut for you. Earlier this offseason, the Eagles signed former CFL tackling machine Alex Singleton to a futures contract. I haven’t noticed him a ton (good or bad) in OTAs but apparently this isn’t his time to thrive.
LB coach Ken Flajole said he thinks Alex Singleton is going to show up when the pads come on. #Eagles— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) June 10, 2019
Kapadia noted that Fipp also mentioned Singleton — unprompted. Could be a good sign for the CFL long shot. Maybe he sticks on the practice squad.