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Mike Groh talks development of Miles Sanders, Jordan Mailata, and more

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Plus, the Eagles OC gives some insight into the changing approach to preseason games.

Following the team’s open practice on Sunday evening, the Eagles were back on the practice field on Monday. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh took some time to talk about certain players on offense and how they’re developing so far in camp.

On specific players

Miles Sanders

At this point in training camp, it’s no surprise that the rookie running back is making a lot of people pay attention, but Groh talked about how he’s doing a good job in other aspects of the position as well.

“Miles is doing a great job everyday. He’s coming out and knows what we want to get better at each and every day. He’s really just kind of started, being able to get out there and be involved in the huddle and be part of the play call.”

And ultimately, the OC noted that Sanders is “really making good progress”.

Groh wouldn’t say specifically that Sanders has given them more than they expected when they drafted him, but they are excited about him and where he’s headed. Now they’re just focused on getting him ready for Week 1 against Washington.

Jordan Mailata

Groh was also asked about whether Mailata is developing as much as they had hoped. He admitted it’s a good question because how do you set an expectation for a player who has so little background in the sport and is starting from Ground 0.

The OC noted that with that in mind, everyday that Mailata makes an improvement is a good day, and everyday that the game slows down for him is a positive step.

“That being said, he’s still playing against some really good guys and seeing things for the first time, and just getting acclimated to playing football.”

But, their excited about him getting some preseason experience.

Nate Sudfeld

Groh noted that Sudfeld is more comfortable in the Eagles system, having had two full offseasons now to learn it. He noted that the QB is more decisive and betters understands different looks from defenses and what he wants to get defenses to do.

“Thought he played fast last night, made some good throws, and really was effective.”

He emphasized that Sudfeld’s urgency in the pocket, is on balance and is using his lower body, are some things that he’s improved on specifically heading into Year 3 with the Eagles.

Jordan Howard

“He’s done a really nice job, both in catching the ball and in the protection. He’s been all over his protection, he’s done a really good job with that. Been sound, been firm in his protection, allowing our quarterbacks to be able to step up in the pocket and make the throws down the field. And when we throw to him, I think he’s done a nice job of catching it.”

Greg Ward

The OC praised Greg Ward following a great catch in the corner of the end zone during the team’s open practice on Sunday. That catch showed the coaches that Ward has been taking the things they’ve been coaching the receivers to do — especially because those kinds of plays are things they expect of him physically — and put it use on the field.

Donnel Pumphrey

Groh also talked about Pump and — while knocking on the podium/wood — said it was nice to have him out there everyday and look forward to seeing him this preseason.

“He’s another one of those guys, this is Year 3 for him, and he’s comfortable in our language and in our system, and knows what to do. He’s just gotta go out there and do it on Thursday and for the rest of the preseason.”

On the importance of preseason

Groh talked a little bit about how it’s important to see some of these younger guys react to getting on a bigger stage. Similar to the live practice, it was good to get them in front of 40,000 screaming fans at The Linc to see how that might affect and change certain performances.

The OC admitted that his view of the preseason has changed a bit the longer he’s been in the league, as priorities shift to taking care of guys and trying to limit injuries, particularly to veteran guys who don’t need those extra reps. Part of that too is that those veterans know how to prepare for games in the NFL both mentally and physically and know the system and their role.

Other notables

Groh wouldn’t say how much playing time Carson Wentz would get in Thursday’s first preseason game, but noted that Doug Pederson will give that update later in the week.

He also admitted that special teams ability is certainly something they look at when filling the final spots on the roster, and the more players can do, the more valuable they are.