Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was back at the podium following the team’s training camp practice on Saturday, and talked a bit about the signing of Johnathan Cyprien and Alex Ellis on Friday, and how the team is getting ready for preseason games.
On Kamu’s injury
Kamu Grugier-Hill went down with a “lower body injury” during Saturday’s practice following a tackle of RB Jordan Howard and was carted off the field. He ended up walking into the facility under his own power, but Pederson noted that he’ll be further evaluated this afternoon.
Aside from the injury, the head coach noted that he’s been taking first team reps at linebacker and contributes on special teams, and overall Pederson is excited about what Kamu brings to the team. He’s a young player who is really starting to grow into his role, and has been good all of camp.
On new players
Pederson was asked about safety Johnathan Cyprien and why they decided to bring him in now versus in June when he first worked out for the team. The head coach noted that they were still trying to get some information on Cyprien’s previous ACL injury before moving forward.
Everything has checked out medically with him and the signing gives the team a little bit more depth and experience at that spot. They figured they’d bring him in and see what he can do and how he might be able to help the team.
Pederson acknowledged that Cyprien has played box safety a lot in his career, and while that differs from the kind of scheme and player the Eagles typically go for, that the safety will need to come in and embrace the new opportunity. Cyprien is a physical player and Pederson notes that there’s no one better for him to learn from than Malcolm Jenkins.
But hopefully he picks up the defense quickly and over the course of the preseason shows the coaches what he can do.
The head coach also said that they’d probably have to be really desperate down the road with injuries to look at Cyprien to fill in at linebacker, or for any of the safeties and linebackers to fill in at the other position.
Pederson was also asked about tight end Alex Ellis, and whether they got any reports from the Kansas City Chiefs and what they knew about him prior to signing him.
“Just what we’ve seen on film. Obviously, I think Justin reached out to Coach Melvin and just got a little scouting report on him. It’s great to have those relationships with coaches around the league so we can talk about players and just get an idea, get a feel of the guy we’re getting and then it’s up to us to coach him up and get him ready to play.”
On the upcoming preseason games
Pederson said that not much changes over the next couple of weeks as the get into the preseason, it’s still practice for them and they don’t really game plan for the preseason matchups. It’s all about evaluating some of the young and new talent and coming up with the best 53-man roster for this team.
The head coach also hasn’t decided whether Carson Wentz will start for the first preseason game on Thursday. Pederson doesn’t plan on knowing for sure until later in the week.
Pederson also talked a bit about how he views the importance of his starters getting playing time in the preseason and how that’s changed over the years. He noted that the starters get most of the reps during training camp, and now teams are practicing against each other, so you don’t necessarily have to see that in a game setting.
The preseason is really valuable for evaluating younger players and backups that they really want to see in game situations. That’s what Pederson has seen as the trend the past couple of years and something he continues to look at as well, and if he feels that fits for the Eagles he’ll do something similar.
The head coach also said that preseason reps will be huge for Jordan Mailata, and other young players, and if they can get him into a game during the first half against good competition it’ll show the coaches what he can do and how he’s developed. Pederson also noted that Mailata has been adapting well to the right side, but each day brings a new challenge and the coaches have to be a little more patient with him because he hasn’t played a ton of football in the past.
“He’s doing a decent job,” Pederson said — which isn’t exactly the most enthusiastic endorsement.
Pederson mentioned that Big V has done really well on the right side in spring and during training camp, and he’s another one that they have to get into the preseason games and see how he’s doing. Vaitai has been going against the Eagles starting defensive line in camp and done a really good job and has settled in a bit.
He also talked about the veterans and those returning from injury — guys like Rodney McLeod and Fletcher Cox — getting individual work during training camp rather than being on the field with the guys. They are out there listening to the team and watching from the sideline, so he’s not worried about veteran players like that, especially those who have a lot of experience and familiarity with the Eagles system.
On Donovan McNabb in the Hall of Fame
“I think you look at the body of work. I think there’s definitely, you could make a case, you could make an argument for him going in, and obviously in our game quarterbacks — especially the top tier quarterbacks —are always thought of as ‘Are they Super Bowl winners?’, and things like that, and I don’t think that has to be the final straw in any decision. How they lead their team for so many years, the numbers they put up, the amount of NFC Championship games he’s led this team to. So you could definitely make an argument for it, and maybe one day he’ll get an opportunity.”