Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Wednesday and talked about signing Elijah Holyfield and Shelton Gibson, as well as the team’s mentality heading into the playoffs.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Pederson said that a couple guys are getting close to returning. He expects maybe Lane Johnson to go through and take a few plays, and Zach Ertz might be able to participate a little bit in practice.
“The rest of the guys we have to see. It’s a little more day-to-day with them and make sure that they are closer to a hundred percent obviously before we stick them out there.”
He later confirmed that Ertz is NOT medically cleared for contact yet, but has been working in the walk-throughs. Similarly, Pederson said he’d be happy if Jalen Mills was able to get some mental reps at practice, and then see where he’s at closer to Sunday.
Pederson was asked about Miles Sanders’ ankle, and the head coach said, “Good, I guess.” The rookie rusher was in the same situation, getting mental reps during the walk-through. Pederson said they have to be careful early in the week and don’t want to set him back at all, and see where he’s at when as the week progresses.
On the offensive line
Pederson didn’t want to give away their game plan, but said they have some options at right guard this week. If Lane Johnson can work in and play, then Big V can work in at right guard, but if Johnson can’t go, then they’ll go with Matt Pryor and keep Big V at tackle. Nate Herbig will also get some reps over there this week just in case he’s needed.
He was also asked about Matt Pryor and his development the past couple years.
“I just think understanding the technique that Coach Stout is really teaching. And the blocking schemes kind of become I guess the second part of that. But he’s using the technique within the scheme and playing with confidence. I think the more he gets out there – he’s a big, physical, powerful guy that is really – and he’s a guy too that has to kind of focus on his fundamentals and be in the right places. And I think that’s where he’s improved the most.”
On new roster additions
Pederson emphasized that they’ve always had their eye on running back Elijah Holyfield and liked him all the way back in the draft. The head coach actually went to a private workout with him at Georgia earlier in the spring.
“And we’ve had four guys on our roster typically most of the season. It gives us depth obviously at the position. Obviously he has to come in and pick up the playbook, at least the game plan for this week, before we can do anything. But a player that we were excited to pick up when we had the opportunity.”
And then with Shelton Gibson, it’s someone they know and it gives them some more depth at the receiver position. Pederson also said Gibson is a core special teams player as well.
The head coach noted that they don’t have a lot of time to get guys caught up when they sign late in the season, but they’re focused on getting them ready.
On 12 personnel without Zach Ertz
“12 is obviously a good personnel group. We have been limited with the number of receivers we’ve had so we have had to be careful putting three guys out there or sometimes four.
But, yeah, 12 is a personnel group that has given us probably the best production here lately. But some of the explosive stuff and third down stuff has to come out of our 11 personnel to get a little more speed on the field and find ways to be creative against what our opponent is trying to do against us.”
On their playoff mentality
Pederson said that having so many must-win games down the stretch will help keep them from feeling extra pressure in the playoffs. He said that it brought them closer together as a team, and they’ve basically been in a playoff game the past four weeks, so they feel prepared for this stage.
“I think the biggest thing, and this is something that I’ll keep addressing the team this week, is we have so many young guys that haven’t been in these games and the emotions run high. The atmosphere is different, right? You have preseason, regular season, post-season, and everything gets sort of magnified now.
Just keeping the emotions in check and just calming your nerves a little bit, especially early in the game. I think that is where the tempo stuff can help, especially these last few games going tempo early.
I think in games like this, especially in Carson’s case, being able to get him to settle into the game and try keep the emotions the best we can. Everybody is going to be excited. Seattle is going to be excited. It’s a great opportunity for both teams. But how we handle that I think during the week helps us, especially in games like this.”