Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters ahead of Friday’s practice and gave several injury updates, and talked about the COVID situation throughout the league. The head coach also said that they expect a lot of pressure from the Steelers 3-4 defense on Sunday, but they’ve been studying all week and are ready for that, especially on first and second downs.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Things were looking good for Alshon Jeffery, but then he got sick — however, Pederson confirmed it is not COVID related — and isn’t in the building. He’ll miss Sunday’s game.
DeSean Jackson will get more work at Friday’s practice and they’ll see where he’s at closer to game day. Pederson noted that Jackson has really embraced the plan that Ted Rath and the medical team have put together for his specific injuries. It’s all about strengthening and making sure there is no soreness, and right now it’s just about trusting that plan.
Quez Watkins was activated from the IR list this week, and Pederson explained that he’s been working at practice and getting back in game shape. They haven’t decided on his status yet for Sunday, but he’s doing well.
With T.J. Edwards out, Pederson pointed to Nate Gerry having some experience before in the middle, and Shaun Bradley is in a back-up role — and the head coach feels like Bradley is ready if needed. Pederson said they’re comfortable with the linebacker group, including: Gerry, Bradley, Alex Singleton, Duke Riles, and Davion Taylor.
They want to make sure Jason Peters is 100 percent with the injury he has, and he’s a guy that they have a maintenance plan for during the week. Peters is doing really well in his rehab, and they’ll see how it goes — and in the meantime, the left tackle position is Jordan Mailata’s as long as he keeps playing well. If Mailata does that, Pederson admits they’ll have a decision to make when Peters is healthy.
On COVID around the league
Pederson said that his concern are his players and staff and making sure that they’re adhering to all the protocols in place.
He knows that at some point this season COVID will directly affect them — whether that’s with a positive test or with a rescheduled game —, and they just have to be diligent with how they approach each day, their testing protocols, and wearing masks. He can’t worry about things out of his control, and can just keep the team focused on doing the right things.
Pederson said that he hasn’t had any direct conversation with the league as to what happens if a team has to miss a certain number of games. They did talk about the possibility — and now reality — that the schedule would be disrupted. He expects these evolving schedules the rest of the season.
The head coach also didn’t comment on whether or not the Titans should be penalized, and said that it’s not for him to decide. He did, however, said that he thinks it did serve as a bit of a wake up call for coaches and players throughout the NFL. And for the Eagles, it just reinforced that they need to maintain all the protocols they have in place — they can’t let their guards down, even when they leave the building.
- Pederson was asked about Josh McCown’s contributions, and the head coach said things are going really well and the QB has been attentive in all the meetings and keeps up with the game plan. He also noted that McCown is constantly communicating with Carson Wentz and all the QBs, both in meetings and privately, and that the veteran’s impact is being felt even though he isn’t in the building.
- The head coach talked a little bit about his first meeting with Jeff Stoutland back in January 2016. Pederson admitted he had a lot of tough decisions to make in terms of hiring a staff, but he had a lot of outside sources give Stoutland high recommendations and strongly suggested he was someone the rookie head coach should keep on staff.
“Obviously looking back great decision on my part.”
- Pederson was also asked about defensive line coach Matt Burke, and he said that Burke really prides himself on the group, including himself, being prepared each week. It’s a group that practices hard, and with getting some more players into the rotation, they’ve been able to keep guys fresh.