Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media for the last time heading into the team’s first preseason game of the year. He hasn’t decided about how much, if any, reps the first team will take on Thursday — repeatedly stating that there’s a fine line, and he has to weigh how much work they get during practices as well — and will make those decisions closer to game day.
He did, however, go into detail about what he’s looking for from his players, and some specific veterans he hasn’t made a decision on yet.
On the first preseason game
Pederson said he has still not made a decision about Carson Wentz and whether or not he’ll play in the team’s first preseason game on Thursday, or how many snaps he’ll take if he does play. He noted that they’ve got a personnel meeting later on Tuesday and they’ll work through some of those decisions.
He was asked what the arguments for and against Wentz playing were:
“For, obviously, it’s been awhile since he’s been on the field and we want to give him that feel of being back on the grass again in a competitive, live situation. And obviously, the reason for holding him is to still evaluate Nate [Sudfeld] and some of the other quarterbacks with Cody [Kessler] and Clayton [Thorson]. So, those are the things we’re working through.”
Similarly, they’ve held out Jason Peters in the past, but they haven’t decided what to do yet for this week’s preseason. Pederson mentioned that JP is another guy who hasn’t been on the field for awhile and could benefit from snaps, but the head coach did say that Andre Dillard will obviously “play a lot” on Thursday.
Later, Pederson was also asked about DeSean Jackson getting reps, especially as a guy that you know has experience and want to keep healthy. He mentioned that he’s one of those guys where there is a fine line as they start thinking about and planning for Week 1 regular season roster and those guys they see as starters. But Jackson hasn’t worked with Wentz in a game-like environment, so those preseason reps could be valuable.
He also talked about what he’s hoping to see from rookie running back Miles Sanders during the preseason. Pederson said it’s similar to just about everybody, in terms of execution, but also hitting the hole, being patient, protecting the football, and seeing some of the things they’ve seen from him during camp.
Pederson did mention that the team’s two new secondary players, Johnathan Cyprien and Orlando Scandrick should get some playing time in the first preseason game. He’s hoping to see how well they’re picking up the defense and what they can do in a live situation — and notably what they can do on special teams, where they’re expected to contribute.
On other QBs in the preseason
Pederson noted that how Nate Sudfeld handles the preseason could be a really good indication of how he’s grown and how ready he is to be the No. 2. The goal would be to give him as much time as he can behind center in these four preseason games.
He also talked about how he doesn’t want Sudfeld to feel any kind of pressure, but there’s always a little bit of pressure to just go out there and perform and play. He’s very comfortable with the offense, and by cutting it down for him by game should help. The head coach wants to see Sudfeld manage the offense and the team, execute and get them in the endzone.
Pederson was asked what he hopes to see out of their rookie QB Clayton Thorson. He mentioned that they’ve thrown a lot at these guys in a short amount of time, so now that things will pair down a bit per competition, he’s interested to see how he commands the huddle and communicates with his teammates. The head coach also noted that they’ll be watching to see how he executes and what he sees defensively.
Someone brought up that Thorson was a bit rough throwing the ball early on in camp, and Pederson pointed to a lack of confidence and familiarity with his teammates. The head coach noted that it’s a slow progression with young quarterbacks typically, but he’s getting real comfortable with what they’re doing and he’s handled himself well.
Pederson said it was unfortunate what happened with Kamu Grugier-Hill, but that it does give Nate Gerry a great opportunity to get in with the 1s and show his ability. He called Gerry a very smart player, athletic and a core special teams player.
The head coach confirmed Halapoulivaati Vaitai will line up at right guard on Thursday since Brandon Brooks can’t go just yet.
Pederson also noted that their expectations from Jordan Mailata are greater this preseason. He’s gotten a lot of work this offseason and seen a lot of reps in camp, so the preseason will give him a good opportunity to get some live experience.