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Doug Pederson talks Jordan Mailata, John Hightower development

Plus, the Eagles head coach gave some injury updates.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Wednesday before practice and talked about some of the COVID spread throughout the league, as well as talked about Jordan Mailata and John Hightower’s contributions, and gave some injury updates.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On COVID around the league

Pederson didn’t want to comment on any specific team, but said that basically, the message from the league office is to uphold the protocols in place. The head coach said he feels confident with what the team and the players have done to adhere to those protocols in Philadelphia. They took the long road trip and everything was good, but it’s something that he has to continue to emphasize the rules to the players.

It’s unfortunate, but he is optimistic that the season will continue.

The head coach was also asked about playing in front of fans for the first time this season on Sunday in Pittsburgh. He said that they’re excited and it’ll be a good thing for both teams — and also a sign that they’re getting closer to having fans in The Linc. Pederson explained players feed off that energy, and even though it’s a smaller number, it’ll still be loud.

On Jordan Mailata

“He did well in the game. I tell you this, he wasn’t perfect, as you know and has some room to grow and, obviously, improve, but it was really a good first step against a good front, a good couple of defensive ends there in San Francisco.”

Obviously, this week with TJ Watt and Bud Dupree, they’re great edge pressure guys, and Mailata will have his hands full. Pederson noted that it will take a solid week of preparation from him, and the rest of OL, for the Steelers defense.

Pederson was asked about the challenge of having a different starting offensive line through four games, but he admits that while it’s been difficult, he has a lot of confidence in Coach Stoutland, who has made sure the next man up is ready.

“We don’t concern ourselves with all the moving parts, because this is something we’ve kind of been accustomed to, and we prepare our guys that way. So, it doesn’t matter, it’s sort of a plug and play, and guys have handled it extremely.”

On Carson Wentz

Pederson was asked about Wentz using his legs more this season.

“Normally when he takes off, he’s made the right decision.”

He went on to explain that Wentz has made some great decisions using his legs, and helped them stay on the field in some 3rd down situations — plus his run for the touchdown the other day was a special play. They feel comfortable putting Wentz in those situations — they don’t want to do it too much, but they are comfortable when he takes off.

Pederson said that he doesn’t recall a specific conversation with either Press Taylor or with Wentz about the QB being more aggressive on the ground, but it’s something he does well, and they’ve encouraged him to use his legs in passing situations when things break down. It’s a little bit of a conscious effort to get him more involved in the run game as a runner because he is a big and strong player.

On John Hightower

“John’s a talented receiver, with good speed and good hands, great athleticism. He’s smart. And, John’s learning how to play at this level, and we’ve challenged him a few times and he’s really responded positively. Each week he’s gotten more and more comfortable with the game plan. Carson’s getting more comfortable with him, and we just continue to watch him grow as a receiver. We think he’s talented and can really help us.”

Injury updates

Pederson said that both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are getting closer to returning. They expect Jeffery to practice this week, and Jackson will get some individual work at Wednesday’s practice, and they’ll incorporate him slowly this week.

In Jackson’s case, it’s about managing him and making sure he’s 100 percent as he gets back to practice. Even once he’s back, they’re going to have to continue to monitor him to try and mitigate any additional injuries — including giving him enough rest during the week.

“My confidence level is high. He knows how to practice, he knows how to play. It’s a situation where he’s a speed guy, he has to make sure — and we have to make sure, that we’re giving him the proper amount of rest. He’s got to stay in the weight room. Part of it is in the weight room, part of it is getting treatment, and then continuing to just slowly bring him along each week.”

The head coach was later asked about Will Parks, and he explained that there are different grades of hamstring injuries and his was significant enough to miss the amount of time he’s missed. But, Parks is another guy who is slowly working back — he won’t be out on the practice field Wednesday, but he’s getting closer each day.

Pederson also talked about JJ Arcega-Whiteside and said that he’s still a part of what they’re doing offensively, and he’ll be back on the practice field Wednesday. They’re still day-by-day with him, but they’re optimistic he’ll be ready Sunday.

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