Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Tuesday for the final time before the fourth and final preseason game. He talked a lot about how this matchup will affect the final 53-man roster, and also who he still expects to be ready Week 1 of the regulars season.
Pederson talked a bit about Carson Wentz — and how he’s definitely ready for Week 1 this year — and noted that his approach to the offseason in terms of being healthy and attacking his rehab, and he’s improved each week since taking the field during OTAs.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On camp additions
He said at this point he’d obviously love to see more from Josh McCown, but they’re down to the wire and they are still evaluating all the positions.
“But obviously what he did last week was good, and probably good enough, so we’ll see.”
The Eagles signed a new linebacker just before Pederson took the podium, Hayes Pullard, and the head coach said he hasn’t watched a ton of film on him, but he’s talked to some of the guys on the team, and Pullard used to play with Nelson Agholor.
“This guys a thumper, he’s athletic. It’s going to be, it’s hard obviously trying to learn a defense in 24-48 hours, but he’ll do the best he can to come in and learn and be in a position to help us Thursday.”
Pederson was also asked how bringing in some new guys — 15 during training camp, 14 of which are still with the team — helps to evaluate the most possible people in a short period of time. The head coach noted that it’s two-fold, they now have film and experience with the guys they’ve had to let go to make room for the new additions — if there is an injury down the road, there’s a familiarity there.
On roster cuts and decisions
The head coach said that special teams coordinator Dave Fipp’s voice is an important one when they are evaluating players for the final roster spots. Pederson said he’s been vocal that success is predicated on all three phases, and so they definitely take into account contributions on special teams when making those decisions.
Pederson also acknowledged that it’s tough when you lose a whole quarter to weather, like they did in Week 3 of the preseason, especially for some of the evaluations of younger guys. But, it’s not something they can control, so thankfully there’s another game on Thursday and they’ll try to make some of those final decisions.
While his approach to the preseason has evolved the past couple of years, he says the fourth game hasn’t changed all that much. Pederson plans to rest all of the so-called starters, but that it’s a really valuable game for a lot the players, particularly for the guys who could earn starting roles on special teams.
Pederson also reflected on a notable time in his NFL playing career when he didn’t make the roster, pinpointing the 1995 season when the Dolphins signed Dan McGwire and he ended up being waived at the end of training camp. But the Eagles’ head coach said it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because he’d go on to sign with the Packers.
He used that moment to explain that it’s not the end of the road for these players, and even if it’s not with the Eagles, there are 31 other teams who are looking at who gets released.
“Your dream is never over.”
Pederson also noted that this can be a bit of a distracting week for players who have questions about whether they’ll make the team, but he still expects them to go out there and perform and try and put all the uncertainties on the back burner.
There is still no Fletcher Cox at practice, but Pederson echoed what he said on Sunday, and he still expects the veteran defender to be ready to participate Week 1. He says that goal is still reasonable, and Cox has been working and getting his workouts in and is mentally prepared.
Not just with Cox, but with guys like Nigel Bradham, Ronald Darby and others coming back from injury, Pederson agreed that they have had to discuss and plan for the possibility that even with their return Week 1, they might not be able to take on a full work-load.
“As I said the other day, I fully expect these guys to be ready for Week 1. They’re getting themselves prepared for Week 1, so that’s reasonable. [Cox] has been working. He’s been getting his workouts in. Been going through all our walk-throughs and getting the mental side of it. Fletcher’s a guy that knows how to prepare, knows how to get himself ready. I would have no concern if that was the case.”
He did note though that some of those guys have been back at practice and been looking good in practice, and some were even able to play in the Week 3 preseason game.
Pederson also talked about Corey Clement returning to the field last week, and how he did well but there is a bit of an adjustment when coming back and slowing things down a bit. He said there were times he could have seen some holes better, but he ran hard and strong, just like they know he can do. The head coach said that Clement has attacked rehab hard and guys will get one more opportunity this week to show what they can do and try and make the 53-man roster.
Also of note, Jordan Mailata was not at practice on Monday, but Pederson said that was a low back injury, so they were resting him and should get more evaluation on the situation Tuesday.