The Eagles were back for their first training camp practice on Thursday and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media after practice for the first time in six weeks.
He noted that he’s going to run training camp much like the past couple of years, with two live days but not much more in terms of tackling and contact. Pederson said that the first day is always good and filled with energy, and that there weren’t a lot of pre-snap penalties at the first practice, which was good to see.
Here’s what else he had to say:
On expectations this season
Pederson noted that he just tells the players to focus on the day and get better each day, rather than listening to the outside noise. He said that’s for the writers to write about and speculate on, but there’s still a long time before they play a game and a lot can happen in that time.
The head coach talked about how it’s his job to make sure they come to work everyday and stay humble and work hard.
Later on, he was asked about how fans are considering this a “Super Bowl or bust” type season, and part way through the question Pederson jokingly put his fingers in his ears. Pederson then admitted that it’s out there, but talent alone can only get you so far, and how they gel as a football team is his goal and concern. They still have to execute on the field and go out and earn that.
The head coach also talked about how the players having gone through the Super Bowl makes them better equipped to handle these early kind of expectations. But having gone through some adversity last year with injuries piling up, guys learned. Pederson noted specifically that he challenges the veterans on the team to lead, but that he also teaches them that it’s okay to fail — but if you fail, fail forward not backward, and learn from it.
He was also asked how those kind of preseason expectations change this for him as a coach, and Pederson acknowledged that he tried not to let it affect how he approaches things. He still has to go out there and do his job, and push the guys but also listen to the guys. But nothing has to change from his standpoint, he has to stay aggressive and push the players to compete so that things aren’t so much harder on game days.
On his messaging to the team
“We’ve just got to focus each day. It’s a new team, it’s a new year. How fast can we gel? How fast can we come together as coaches, as players, players and coaches, and get better? Get 1% better each day.”
On the rookies
Pederson was asked what he wanted to see from rookie running back Miles Sanders, and the head coach noted that he had missed pretty much the entire spring, but he’s back and healthy and they’re going to get him involved. He’s excited to see Sanders’ talent and athleticism, and see what he recalls from being on the sideline and in meetings from OTAs. They’re going to work him in slowly and then wait for the preseason games to see what he can do.
Not just with Sanders but for all the rookies, Pederson said that after the six week break it’s like re-starting and seeing what they’ve retained and learned since the last practice. The head coach said they aren’t reinventing anything that was taught during the spring, so anything that rookies (and all personnel) can recall puts them ahead of the curve and they have an opportunity to play a little bit faster.
- Pederson said that they obviously need to be careful with Brandon Brooks returning to the field, but that he’s encouraged and happy to see him out there with the guys.
- The head coach said that they never know what the season will hold, but that overall it was encouraging to see so many guys practicing — especially those who didn’t practice this time last year. The team has to be cautious, but it is encouraging to have a full compliment of guys back out on the field.
- Pederson was asked if they plan on limiting Carson Wentz’s snap count this part of the offseason, and he noted that they are going to continue to monitor him, but he’s been doing some good things and they always monitor the arms of their quarterbacks. But, they’re going to see how it goes, but there are no limitations right now — and he’d be cleared for contact if there were games.
- As far as Jalen Mills goes, he’s still day-to-day and working on coming back from injury, and Pederson wasn’t willing to put a timetable on that. The head coach is happy with Mills’ progress, but would admit that he’s a little further away from returning to the field than some of the other injured players.
On the new medical staff personnel
Pederson said — as per usual — that he’s going to punt any sort of medical staff questions to that team, but not much changes for them in terms of communication with the new Chief Medical Officer position they added this offseason.